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ANTI-COLONIALISM: Colonial Bias in the Self-Proclaimed International Court of Justice

Alvaro Enrique Saldivia Lopez

22 нояб. 2023 г.

Some in the Global South naively believe that colonial times are now behind us and that, once "flag" independence was achieved, countries would be left to develop their potential freely, beyond the designs of the imperialists.


The United Nations formally recognizes 17 non-self-governing territories administered respectively by three powers and one country within their sphere of influence: the United States, United Kingdom, France and New Zealand. The colonization process shackling Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and Asia between the 16th and 19th centuries did not cease once political independence was achieved.


There is a current of thought in de-colonial and postcolonial studies and legal criticism which ensure that such nominal independence constitutes not true sovereignty, but rather "the continuation of a model of legal exclusion" that remains to this day.


Colonialism could be understood, following Aníbal Quijano and Walter Mignolo, as that direct intervention which is carried out on the colonized space through a framework of total subordination (racial, economic, political, knowledge, etc.) which allows the colonizing power to maintain hegemony through indirect means besides the use of brute force and violence.


Assuming it this way, we observe instances of colonialism, or rather neocolonialism, in the economic sphere when discussing conditions for granting credit in some international financial institution or negotiating an economic agreement with a specific power. In such cases, the power or institution (controlled by the power) imposes detrimental conditions on the country.


In the same vein, we can speak of scientific colonialism when a prescribed approach to creating and approaching science is forced upon us, disregarding the forms and methods through which original populations, outside the hegemonic center (Global North), generate their knowledge—either discarding them or, more seriously, belittling them.


Within the realm of international law, the school of thought known as "Third World Approaches to International Law" (TWAIL) has exposed the colonial origins and power dynamics underpinning international law. This perspective challenges the purported universal nature of international law, laying bare its Eurocentric, expansionist, assimilationist, and homogenizing origins molded by colonialism and imperialism.


Notably, the recently independent states perceived the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as a primary source of International Law, reinforcing its colonial imprints.


The Colonial Bias of the International Court of Justice


Several aspects constitute colonial biases within the ICJ, undoubtedly complicating its claim to be an impartial institution tasked with dispensing justice among sovereign states. During the decolonization process, nations gaining independence decried this behavior, which in one way or another ended up favoring colonial powers.


The first bias lies in the language used by the ICJ to hear parties in a dispute. Although there are over 7,000 languages globally, the UN recognizes six official languages—Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish—the Court only accepts English and French in trials, reflecting the influence of former colonial powers.


The composition of the ICJ and the selection of judges constitute another bias that raises serious doubts about the supposed impartiality of its decisions. The 15 ICJ judges are elected by the UN General Assembly and Security Council for three-year terms.


This election process is dominated by Atlanticist states, which consistently hold disproportionate representation in the Court and influence votes for judges' elections, given it is a long-negotiated compromise also governing the composition of the UN Security Council.


The International Court of Justice is an imperialist entity, not an impartial one


The Geneva Agreement, signed in 1966 between Venezuela, the United Kingdom, and the then colony of British Guiana, is the sole existing instrument serving as the legal basis for resolving the Essequibo territory dispute.


This is why Venezuela rejects the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the main UN judicial body, as the arbitrator to "resolve" the conflict. Venezuela has ample reasons for this rejection, including concerns about the opinions that an organization deemed non-impartial might issue.


The current president, American lawyer Joan Donoghue, previously served in the United States Department of State between 2007 and 2010. The Guyanese government turns to the ICJ with the support and influence of the AngloZionist Empire, which employs pressure tactics to secure a decision favorable to its interests.


The U.S. transnational oil companies, interested in energy resources in the to-be-delimited waters, along with the government of Guyana and the ICJ, form a triangle working to solidify the theft of the Essequibo territory from Venezuela.


The empire will inevitably fail, and Venezuelans will prevail with legality, international solidarity, awareness, and the support of the Popular Bolivarian Armed Forces and Patriotic Civilians in Civic-Military Union.


Hasta La Victoria Siempre! Venceremos!




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