International Law, the International Development Legal Regime and Developing Countries

Brian Ikejiaku

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


International Development Law or the legal regime relating to International Development is one of the aspects of international law that is of greatest interest to developing countries. When the International Law and Development movement began in the early 1960s, the aim was to reform the existing legal system in developing countries in order to pave the way for economic freedom, social welfare and cohesion. This brought about many hopes and aspirations in developing countries; however, these hopes and aspirations faded after a short period when international law and development movement appeared to fail. This paper examines the international law and development movement/regime since the 1960s and why it came to be seen as a weak, dysfunctional and/or collapsed instrument. The paper argues that the international law and development movement collapsed because:(i) the goals of developing countries are not identical to those of developed countries and/ or imperial powers that piloted the movement; (ii) the people of developing countries, where it was envisaged the movement would develop, were not involved along with those that headed the implementation of international law and development agenda; and (iii) that the current international law and development regime has put more emphasis on militarisation than on socio-economic development. The failure, though it did not come as a surprise to many, continues to impact negatively on developing countries. This paper uses structural-functionalist legal theory (often para-phrased as “functionalism”) and an interdisciplinary and critical-analytical approach within the framework of international law and development. It employs qualitative empirical evidence from developing countries for illustrative analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-163
Number of pages33
JournalThe Law and Development Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014


  • International Law and Development movement
  • public international law
  • liberal economic internationalisation
  • developed countries
  • developing countries
  • international financial institutions
  • structural-functionalist legal theory


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