Rural Communities in International Law: Non-State Actors?

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    While entities as different as armed groups, multinational corporations, megacities, terrorist organizations and indigenous peoples are mentioned as Non-State Actors (NSA) in the relevant literature, rural communities (RCs) are never referred to. This article aims to lift this invisibility veil with arguments coming from three theories of/scholarly approaches to international law: positivism, sociolegal realism (specifically, the New Haven school), and constitutionalism. From a positivist perspective, RCs are recognised as ‘derived’ subjects of international law since they are made bearers of rights and duties in some major multilateral treaties. From a sociolegal realist perspective, the analysis reflects the ontological reality of the RC being able at times to affect international law-making. This is possible because the RCs acquire, when mobilized, the tools to influence decision making in international arbitration and court litigation. From a constitutionalist perspective – one recognizing the need for global justice and the existence of some supreme norms above the will of the states – the discussion is focused upon the moral desideratum of giving a voice to the segment of the Earth’s population which has the least to benefit from globalization, while paying the highest price in terms of damage to the natural and socio-cultural environment.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1
    Pages (from-to)1-19
    Number of pages19
    JournalTexas International Law Journal
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2023


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