Asia’s Ambivalence About International Law & Institutions: Past, Present, and Futures

Percentage of states participating in certain international institutions by UN regional groupings (Dec. 2014)

Asian states are the least likely of any regional grouping to be party to most international obligations or to have representation reflecting their number and size in international organizations. This is despite the fact that Asian states have arguably benefited the most from the security and economic dividends provided by international law and institutions. The article explores the reasons for Asia’s under-participation and under-representation. Part I traces the history of Asia’s engagement with international law. Part II assesses Asia’s current engagement with international law and institutions, examining whether its under-participation and under-representation is in fact significant and how it might be explained. Part III considers possible future developments based on three different scenarios, referred to here as status quo, divergence, and convergence.

The full paper, which will be presented at the Asian Society of International Law biennial meeting in Bangkok on 26 November 2015, is available on SSRN here: