Global Engagement Series - Rivalry and Development: Views from Asia

Global Engagement Series

Cosponsored by the Asian Society of International Law

Across contemporary Asian countries, development is a key priority, and encompasses a broad array of rights and capacities from sustenance and economic well-being to freedom and political autonomy. Development is thus an essentially contested concept: while most agree that it is fundamental to societies’ flourishing, there is no legally-binding notion of development. The “right to development” exemplifies this tension. Rooted in the New International Economic Order of the 1970s and as reflected in the United Nation’s Declaration on the Right to Development (1986) and in spirit in the Sustainable Development Goals (2015), the “right to development” has gained more traction in international law, even as it remains vaguely defined. A related issue is the directionality of development: where should models of development come from? Historically, development has flowed from North to South and West to East. States in Europe and North America as well as international financial institutions supply the majority of development aid. The direction of these flows has been questioned; yet only recently, with the emergence of powerful Asian economies, have Asian states emerged as donor countries. Rivalries have also emerged. Different approaches to development overseas have consequences for human rights, sovereignty, democracy, and economic governance.


  • Antony Anghie (moderator), National University of Singapore Law Faculty
  • Aparna Chandra, National Law School of India University
  • Matthew S. Erie, University of Oxford
  • Dilini Pathirana, University of Colombo Faculty of Law
  • Emi Makino, Center for Asian Legal Exchange, Nagoya University