Shirley V. Scott
The vast majority of states in the world today are “developing countries.” The most fundamental characteristic of a developing state is that its income is relatively low in comparison with that of an industrial country. Another characteristic is that they are former colonies. Developing countries are sometimes referred to as the “South” because the developed–developing division amongst countries corresponds roughly to the hemispheric division of the globe. Another related term is the “Third World,” which refers to economically weak countries and those countries undergoing decolonization. The relationship between developing countries and international law can be found in the disciplines of International Law, International Relations, and International History. There are three aspects of the engagement of developing countries with international law: the colonial past and contemporary continuities in international legal approaches and categories; attempts by newly independent Third World states that transform international law through the introduction of specific new legal principles; and whether structural impediments remain to the equitable participation of developing countries in international law. Meanwhile, the literature on the implications of the experience of developing countries with international law concerns the relationship of developing countries with the sources of international law as well as the international dispute resolution. The most obvious dimension to the bias of international law against developing countries is the historical one: international law served the interests of the colonizers rather than the colonized. Nevertheless, international law can also be used advantageously by the weak to resist the invasions of the strong.