Portrait of Dr Luis Eslava

Dr Luis Eslava

Reader in International Law
Director Internationalisation (Research & External Profile)
Co-Director Centre for Critical International Law (CeCIL)


Luis teaches and researches in the areas of International Law, International Legal Theory and History, International Development, International Human Rights Law, Comparative Public Law, Anthropology of International Law, Global Governance and Global Political Economy, and Urban Law and Politics. Luis is an active member of the network Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL).
Bringing together insights from anthropology, history and legal and social theory, his work focuses on the multiple ways in which international norms, aspirations and institutional practices, both old and new, come to shape and become part of our everyday life, arguing that closer critical attention needs to be paid to this co-constitutive relationship between international law ‘up there’ and life ‘down here’.
In this spirit, his publications advance a series of new methodological parameters and applied case studies that aim to shed light on the simultaneously ideological and material, ground-level work that is done, each day, by international law, inviting the reader, in turn, to question what our response to it should be.
Luis is also a Senior Fellow at Melbourne Law School, an International Professor at Universidad Externado de Colombia, and a core member of the teaching faculty at Harvard Law School’s Institute for Global Law and Policy.
Luis is also a Co-Director of International Law and Politics Collaborative Research Network at the Law and Society Association (LSA) and a member of the editorial boards of Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development; the Latin American Law Review; and Contexto: Revista de Derecho Económico.

Research interests

Following his interest on the constitutive power of the international legal order and its shaping of global life, Luis has studied over the recent years the long-standing relation between international law and imperialism; the history of the international development project; and the nature of the state in the Global South. Part of this body of work has focused on the recent emergence of cities on the international scene. His fieldwork in this area has taken place in Bogotá, Rio de Janeiro, Istanbul, and most recently in Cali, Colombia. 

Luis has also paid attention to new forms of international intervention in the Global South (for example, the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility); the reach and limits of human rights; and the changing nature of the global legal and economic order and its impact on questions of sacrality, universality, resistance, revolution and Third World engagements with international law. 

Research interest highlights

  • International Law
  • International Legal Theory and History
  • International Development
  • International Human Rights Law
  • Comparative Public Law
  • Anthropology of International Law
  • Global Governance
  • Urban Law and Politics

Research Projects

Luis’s recent and current projects include: 

Broken Worlds: New Poverty, Law and Youth Violence – Luis is currently writing a book on the changing nature of global poverty. Engaging with this ‘new poverty’ and its relationship to youth violence, it offers a diagnosis of the dramas that have come to characterise life in the South, and in the increasing number of Souths in the developed world. 

International Law and Development - together with Sundhya Pahuja (Melbourne Law School) and Ruth Buchanan (Osgoode), Luis is co-editing The Oxford Handbook of International Law and Development (OUP, forthcoming 2022). 

Security and Development Today – as part of a British Academy sponsored international collaboration lead by Kent Law School, Luis worked with Lina Buchely (ICESI, Colombia) on a join project on new practices associated to the management of petty crime in the Global South (2015 -2018). The outcome of this project is a paper entitled ‘Security and Development? A Story about Petty Crime, the Petty State and its Petty Law’ (2019) 67 Revista de Estudios Sociales 40. 

Imperial Locations – together with Liliana Obregón and Martti Koskenniemi, Luis co-edited a Symposium on Imperial Locations in the Leiden Journal of International Law (2018). This symposium brought together a series of cutting edge explorations on the dynamic and broad operation of imperialism and the international legal order. 

The 60th Anniversary of Bandung – to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Bandung Conference, and together with Vasuki Nesiah (NYU) and Michel Fakhri (Oregon), Luis co-edited the volume, Bandung, Global History and International Law: Critical Pasts and Pending Futures, published by Cambridge University Press in 2017

History, Anthropology and the Archive of International Law (The HAAIL Project) – together with Madelaine Chiam (Melbourne), Genevieve Painter (Concordia), Rose Parfitt (Kent) and Charlotte Peevers (UTS), Luis is engaged on a long collaboration on the methodological and analytical implications of bringing together the fields of history, anthropology and international law. The first outcome of this collaboration is a Special Issue on the First World War published in the London Review of International Law (2017).


His teaching responsibilities span across Law and International Development, Public International Law and International Human Rights Law.


Luis supervises and benefits enormously from a group of wonderful graduate researchers at Kent Law School and other institutions, all of them doing research on the past, present and possible futures of the global order. At the moment he is supervising projects on the history of international human rights law and its impact on social security provisions in Brazil (Rafael Baltar, Catholic University of Pernambuco); on state-based resistance in the international legal order using the Non-Aligned Movement as a case study (Mateja Koltaj, KLS); the operation and challenges posed by international discourses around waste, waste collection and development in the South today (Allison Lindner, KLS); the intricacies of water use, trade and management for our conceptualization of power and international law (Mia Tamarin, KLS); and the challenges posed by novel forms of counter-terrorist practices to traditional conceptualizations of international law (Ahmed Memon, KLS).

Past students graduated:

  1. Dr Eric Loefflad: ‘Popular Will and International Law: The Expansion of Capitalism, The Question of Legitimate Authority, and The Universalisation of The Nation-State’ (2019)
  2. Dr Jimena Sierra: ‘Law, Development and Extractivism: The Contest for Gold in Colombia in a Context of Global Coloniality’ (2019) (In Spanish: Derecho, Desarrollo y Extractivismo: La Disputa por el Oro en Colombia en un Contexto de Colonialidad Global)
  3. Dr Paulo Bacca: ‘Indigenizing International Law: Inverse Legal Anthropology in the Age of Jurisdictional Double Binds’ (2019)
  4. Dr Silvana Tapia: ‘Criminalising Violence Against Women: Feminism, Penalty and Rights in Post-Neoliberal Ecuador’ (2017)


Editorial Work

  • Editorial Board member, The Latin American Law Review (2017 – current)
  • Editorial Board member, Humanity (2016 – current)
  • Editorial Board member, Revista Derecho del Estado (2014 – current)
  • Editorial Board member, Revista de Derecho Económico (2010 – current) 

Professional Societies 

  • Law and Society Association



  • Eslava, L. and Pahuja, S. (2020). The State and International Law: A Reading from the Global South. Humanity journal [Online] 11. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/hum.2019.0015.
    In this essay we re-describe the relationship between international law and the state, reversing the usual imagined directionality of the flow between the two. At its most provocative, our argument is that rather than international law being a creation of the state, making the state is an ongoing project of international law. In the essay, we pay particular attention to the institutionalised project of development in order to illuminate the ways in which international law gives form to, and actualises, states, and then recirculates from a multiplicity of points “within” them.
  • Eslava, L. (2019). The Question of Agency and Structure: Critical Realism and the Teaching of (Another) International Law. The Law Teacher [Online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/03069400.2019.1697590.
    In this article I explore the potential of a critical realist approach to the teaching of international law. Critical realist scholars have advanced a compelling account of the importance of paying attention – in designing educational curricula, delivering materials and classroom interactions – to the close relationship between agency and structure, a relationship that has also come to preoccupy international legal scholars. Recent academic work, especially that developed by critical international legal scholars, has revealed and insisted upon the structural dimension of the international legal order. According to these scholars, this dimension should be taken into account not simply in order to explain questions of bias in the global normative and institutional order but also to understand and challenge some of the ways in which international law has historically constituted, and continues to constitute, our persistently violent and unequal material and social world at all levels, from international to local spaces, and from collective to individual subjectivities. If the aim is to generate another global order, and another international law, teaching international law today requires us to learn how to negotiate the structure and agency divide. The work of critical realists has the potential to help teachers of international law create a more emancipatory learning experience for their students in order to face this crucial task.
  • Eslava, L. and Buchely, L. (2019). Security and Development? A Story about Petty Crime, the Petty State and its Petty Law. Revista de Estudios Sociales [Online] 67:40-55. Available at: https://doi.org/10.7440/res67.2019.04.
    In this article we engage with the promises and limits of the ‘Security and
    Development’ discourse. Using Cali as our case study, we show how initiatives
    associated with this discourse, instead of helping states move beyond insecurity,
    exclusion and low levels of development by strengthening social relations,
    official institutions and legal frameworks, end up producing, instead, a particular
    set of precarious institutional and human arrangements. We characterise this
    precarity as moving in the realm of ‘pettiness’: a characterisation that for us
    suggests both the marginal kinds of solutions that ultimately form the core of
    Security and Development, and the flimsiness that has come to mark those
    institutional and human arrangements resulting from it. The result is a resilient
    liminality across the board and the continuation of insecurity.
  • Eslava, L. (2018). The Moving Location of Empire: Indirect Rule, International Law, and the Bantu Educational Kinema Experiment. Leiden Journal of International Law [Online] 31:539-567. Available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0922156518000328.
    Between 1935 and 1937, the International Missionary Council conducted the Bantu Educational Kinema Experiment. The objective was to produce silent educational films and screen them to ‘native’ people via mobile cinemas in the British territories in East and Central Africa. Embracing the principle of ‘indirect rule’, and its role in training colonial subjects in economic self-sufficiency and political self-rule, as then advocated by leading colonial figures and the League of Nations, the films strived to capture ‘the native point of view’ through an ‘ethnographic sensitivity’ towards local cultures, concerns and needs. Hoping to educate the natives from ‘within’, they used local actors, familiar locations and pedagogical instructions that were believed to meet the target audience’s cognitive capacity. Though in many respects unsuccessful, the experiment cemented the use of cinema in the late colonial project and, more importantly, embodied the clear move at the time towards a more dynamic and disaggregated, yet perhaps never fully post-imperial, international order. I argue in this article that the Bantu Experiment is thus a telling instance through which to examine both the mobility and multiplicity of late imperial locations and the system of modern international administration that emerged during the interwar period. I suggest that this mobility and multiplicity continue to characterize the workings of today’s international order, indicating the key role that ‘indirect rule’, as a silent principle of international law, still plays in its functioning today.
  • Eslava, L. (2018). Retratos de Estanbul: Observando la Operación Cotidiana del Derecho Internacional y el Desarrollo’ Revista Latinoamerica de Derecho Internacional. Latin American Review of International Law [Online]. Available at: http://revistaladi.com.ar/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/LADI-n7-Eslava-Retratos-de-Estambul.pdf.
  • Eslava, L. (2017). The materiality of international law: violence, history and Joe Sacco’s The Great War. London Review of International Law [Online] 5:49-86. Available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/lril/lrx001.
    Thinking through Joe Sacco’s The Great War (2013) and adopting a materialist approach to the international legal order and its history, this article re-maps both the temporal scope and the actual location of the violence endured in the First World War and calls attention to its ongoing everyday material manifestations.
  • Eslava, L. (2016). El Arte: Entre lo Doméstico y lo Internacional. Conversatorios de Arte y Derechos Humanos – Boletín No. 2:11-20.
  • Eslava, L. (2014). Istanbul Vignettes: Observing the Everyday Operation of International Law. London Review of International Law [Online] 2:3-47. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/lril/lru005.
    Through a series of photographic vignettes of everyday life in Istanbul, this article explores international law beyond the exceptional events and sites often associated with it. The article challenges international law’s enframing as a narrow field of action and instead highlights its expansive role in the constitution of our world.
    Full final version available at: Oxford Journals website.
  • Dias, M. and Eslava, L. (2013). Horizons of Inclusion: Life between Laws and Developments in Rio De Janeiro. University of Miami Inter-American Law Review [Online] 44:177-218. Available at: http://inter-american-law-review.law.miami.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Horizons-of-Inclusion-Life-Between-Laws-and-Developments-in-Rio-de-Janeiro.pdf.
    In this article we explore current debates about social inclusion in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro. Through a comparison of two initiatives that aim to redress socio-economic segregation in Rio, we analyze the ontological position that these programs adopt towards their subjects, paying particular attention to the programs’ assumptions regarding the legal and development status of residents in informal neighborhoods. Our aim is to demonstrate how some social inclusion programs recognize and respect the diversity and life experience of marginalized subjects, whereas other nominally successful programs do not achieve such objectives. In our view, such recognition ensures that social inclusion programs become substantive avenues for justice, rather than instruments of technocratic or economic programing, or the seeds of new forms of violence.
  • Eslava, L. and Pahuja, S. (2012). Beyond the (Post)Colonial: TWAIL and the Everyday Life of International Law. Journal of Law and Politics in Africa, Asia and Latin America - Verfassung und Recht in Übersee (VRÜ) 45:195-221.
    Third World Approaches to International Law, or ‘TWAIL’, is a response to both the colonial and postcolonial ethos of international law. It is also one of the most explicitly articulated juridical and political spaces in which to think about an international law beyond its (post)coloniality. In this article, we describe TWAIL as having a characteristic ‘double engagement’ with the attitudes of both reform and resistance vis-à-vis international law and scholarship. This double engagement has the potential to provide us with the tools both to delineate the (post)colonial character of international law, and to work actively toward a meaningfully plural international normative order. This latter possibility arises from a nascent conceptualisation within TWAIL scholarship of a universality that is compatible with an understanding of international law as an agonistic (and not imperial) project. To make good the tantalising potential of this ‘new’ universal, we suggest an explicit methodological move for TWAIL and its fellow travelers. Such a move involves paying attention to international law as a ‘material project’. By being attentive to the daily operation of international law on the mundane or ‘material’ plane of everyday life, it may be possible to generate a ‘praxis’ of (the new) universality. Such a praxis would trouble the way places and subjects are currently constituted in the name of the international and its (post)colonial ethos. Crucially, it would make intelligible to international legal scholarship the numerous forms of resistance already at play in the struggle against the (post)colonial normative order now being institutionalised and administered across the world.
  • Eslava, L. and Pahuja, S. (2011). Between Resistance and Reform: TWAIL and the Universality of International Law. Trade, Law and Development 3:103-130.
    In this article we explore the relationship between TWAIL scholarship and the universality of international law. In particular, we offer an account of this relation as the outcome of what we describe as TWAIL’s characteristic double engagement with the attitudes of both reform and revolution vis-à-vis international law and scholarship. In being thoroughly critical of the cornerstones of the established order, and yet engaged with the practice and operation of international law at the same time, TWAIL scholars have intimated in their search for justice, an idea of universality capable of accepting international law as an agonic project. To further its political engagement with the universal promise of international law, we suggest an explicit methodological turn for TWAIL scholarship that is attentive to international law as a material project. By paying attention to the daily operation of international law at the mundane, quotidian and material plane, we suggest that TWAIL can sharpen its analytical potential and generate at the same time, a ‘praxis of universality’. Such a praxis would be capable of troubling the constitution of places and subjects in the name of the international, whilst heightening our sensitivity to the numerous forms of resistance that are already at play as a particular normative project is being institutionalised and administered across the world.
  • Eslava, L. (2009). Decentralization of Development and Nation-Building Today: Reconstructing Colombia from the Margins of Bogotá. The Law and Development Review 2.
    Responding to an international trend that regards the state as an oversized, unsustainable and uneven jurisdiction that cannot effectively intervene in the economy to promote development objectives, nor impose a proper presence over its territory and population, the reform of the Colombian Constitution in 1991 installed local development as one of the primary strategies to recuperate the nation-building project in Colombia. Bogotá has greatly benefited from the introduction of this normative framework: within the spatial limits of its jurisdiction, Bogotá has been able to achieve a remarkable level of community engagement, measured urban growth and financial stability, as well as high per capita levels of education, health and public utility provision. However, the successful decentralization of state activity in Bogotá has implied an intensification of the systemic violence that traditionally accompanies nation-building projects. Through practices of classification, demarcation and disciplining of space and subjects, Bogotá has used a cartography of legal and illegal urban spaces in order to circumscribe its developmental target. Reflecting upon the contradictions that arise from the encounter between the weaknesses of Colombia's sovereignty and Bogotá's successful development, this paper examines the relationship between development and sovereign consolidation through the multiplication of levels of governance and the creation of increasingly smaller, more accountable sub-national jurisdictions in Third World states.
  • Eslava, L. (2009). Constitutionalization of Rights in Colombia: Establishing a Ground for Meaningful Comparisons. Revista Derecho del Estado 22:183-229.
    Considered out of context, the 1991 Colombian Constitution might be read as an extension of a trend in constitutional reform that has swept the world since the early 1970s, renewing state commitments to the Social Rule of Law model and human rights. Accordingly, the Colombian constitutional reform could be described as a copy-cat reform, whose failure resides in the internal ambivalences of the Social Rule of Law model and human rights discourse, and is starkly revealed in the social, political and economic reality of Colombian citizens. This paper problematizes this position: instead, the paper argues that the Colombian constitutional text should be read and evaluated on the basis of its particularities. The paper outlines reasons for studying the Colombian Constitution as a socio-juridical phenomenon, situating the constitutional text beyond its normative nature and the interpretative boundaries of the law. By adopting this approach, the paper concludes that the socialization of the nation-building project in Colombia has been an impressive achievement of the 1991 political and legal constitutional experiment, but that distinctive failures of Colombia’s constitutional reform can also be identified in this process.
  • Barr, O., Eslava, L. and Otomo, Y. (2009). In Search of Authority, Rebellion and Action. Sortuz: Journal of Emergent Socio-Legal Studies [Online] 3:1-13. Available at: http://opo.iisj.net/index.php/sortuz/issue/view/43.
    This article introduces the key thematics of this special edited collection within a frame of critical legal scholarship. How do lawyers constitute, question and re-make their relation to law and to legal writing? What is at stake in displacing or in claiming law? In co-writing this article, the editors have found it helpful to narrate their own journeys into law in the first person in the ‘Episode’ of Part I. Part II reflects on the risks inherent in searching for authority, rebellion and action in relation to law. Part III outlines some responses to those risks, in terms of the strategic methodologies engaged by the authors included in this edition.
  • Eslava, L. (2008). Corporate Social Responsibility & Development: A Knot of Disempowerment. Sortuz: Oñati Journal of Emergent Socio-Legal Studies 2:43-71.
    This paper presents a discursive analysis of the arrival, operation, and effects of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) on international development from a socio-legal perspective. CSR has become a priority on the international development agenda as frameworks for development promote the contraction of the state's role and seek to encourage corporate participation in addressing social issues. It is argued here, however, that CSR discourse represents an expansion of development as an antipolitics machine. As a discourse, CSR possesses a powerful capacity for selfperpetuation, allowing it to appropriate and rephrase social dissent in its own terms, and cancelling genuine political contestation. Through institutionalization, regularization and managerial capture, CSR exemplifies how discursive practices and structures embody a constellation of power relations that constrain action and obscure the intrinsically political nature of development.
  • Eslava, L. (2007). Occupation Law: (Mis)Use and Consequences in Iraq. Contexto 21:79-114.
    It is a delicate and pretentious endeavour to examine Iraq in current times. It is delicate in the sense that new facts and consequences of the Coalition’s presence in Iraq are broadcast on a daily basis and discussed worldwide. Yet it is also pretentious because of the impressive volume of academic work about Iraq that has appeared during the last four years. There is now a solid body of scholarship on issues such as the Coalition’s interpretation and misuse of occupation law, the legality of the use of force, Western imperialistic aspirations over Iraq, and successes and failures of the Coalition Provisional Authority’s administration of Iraq in 2003 and 2004. Keeping those concerns in mind, this paper establishes a discursive trajectory across all these topics. I will argue that the modern evolution of occupation law is intertwined with the Coalition’s misinterpretation and misuse of their obligations under international law, and examine how a radical interpretation of occupation law has affected the prospects of democracy and stability in Iraq.
  • Eslava, L. (2003). Las Decisiones del Hombre Frente a la Escasez (Scarcity and Human Decisions). Derecho y Vida - Ius et Vita:21.
  • Eslava, L. (2002). The Method of Law and Economics: A Framework to Study the Scarcity, the Traffic and the Market of Human Organs (in Spanish). Revista Contexto 15:8-57.
    The paper engages with the expansion of economic analysis into the social sciences, especially in the realm of legal studies. The paper pays particular attention to the recent use of microeconomic analysis as an explanatory avenue to approach human behavior in conditions of scarcity. In the first part, the paper offers a review of the substantive and methodological assumptions and operations of the field of Law and Economics. In the second part of the paper, the increasing shortage of human organs for transplant is used as an example to illustrate and examine the value, as well as the limitations, of Law and Economics.
  • Eslava, L. (2002). A Review of the Controversy between the Andean Community General Secretariat and Venezuela about Transport’. Contexto 14:41-50.


  • Eslava, L., Pahuja, S. and Buchanan, R. (2017). International Development. Abingdon, Oxford: Routledge.
  • Eslava, L., Obregón, L. and Urueña, R. (2016). Imperialismo Y Derecho Internacional. Bogotá, Colombia: Librería Siglo del Hombre La Candelaria.
  • Eslava, L. (2015). Local Space, Global Life : The Everyday Operation of International Law and Development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    Local Space, Global Life engages with the expansive, ground-level and intertwined operations of international law and the development project by discussing the current international focus on local jurisdictions. Since the mid-1980s, and through the discourse of decentralization, municipalities and cities in emerging nations have become the preferred spaces in which to promote global ideals of human, economic and environmental development. Through an ethnographic study of Bogotá's recent development experience and the city's changing relation to its illegal neighbourhoods, Luis Eslava interrogates this rationale and exposes the contradictions involved in the international turn to the local. Attentive to historical and current transformations, norms and praxis, and both ideology and materiality, he provides an innovative reading of the nature of international law and the development project, and reveals their impact on local spaces and lives at the urban periphery of today's world order.

Book section

  • Eslava, L. (2019). The Developmental State: Independence, Dependency and the History of the South. In: Bernstorff, J. von and Dann, P. eds. The Battle for International Law: South-North Perspectives on the Decolonization Era. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Available at: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-battle-for-international-law-9780198849636?lang=en&cc=it#.
    The battle for international law during the era of decolonization in the mid-twentieth century was to a large extent a battle fought over the nature, function and objectives of the state—above all, over their relationship to the idea of ‘development’. A particular normative and institutional formation resulted from this battle: the ‘developmental state’, the impact of which on (in)dependence in the South was and continues to be profound. However, the ‘developmental state’ did not spring ready-made out of nowhere. On the contrary, using Latin America’s much earlier experience of colonialism, decolonization and independent statehood as a starting-point, this chapter draws attention to the long and complex process through which the developmental state’s most important elements emerged, defining what was thinkable and doable there and elsewhere in the post-colonial world.
  • Eslava, L. (2018). Dense Struggle: On Ghosts, Law and the Global Order. In: Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, A. ed. Routledge Research Handbook on Law & Theory. Routledge, pp. 15-48.
  • Eslava, L. (2017). The Spirit of Bandung. In: Eslava, L., Nesiah, V. and Fakhri, M. eds. Bandung, Global History and International Law: Critical Pasts and Pending Futures. Cambridge University Press, pp. 3-32.
  • Eslava, L. (2016). Imperialismo(s) y Derecho(s) Internacional(es): Ayer y Hoy. In: Eslava, L., Obregon, L. and Urena, R. eds. Imperialism and International Law: History and Legacy (In Spanish: Imperialismo Y Derecho Internacional: Historia Y Legado). Siglo del Hombre Editores, pp. 11-94.
  • Eslava, L. (2012). Urban Law in a Global World (in Spanish: El Derecho Urbano en un Mundo Globalizado). In: Rengifo, M. and Pinilla, J. F. eds. La Ciudad Y El Derecho Urbano: Una Introducción Al Derecho Urbano Contemporáneo. Bogotá: Los Andes & Temis.
    Este capítulo hace un recuento del actual interés internacional por nuestras ciudades, municipios y jurisdicciones locales y se pregunta cuál debería ser nuestro entendimiento y uso del derecho urbano en este contexto. Examinando de manera crítica la evolución de la relación entre las jurisdicciones locales y el nivel nacional e internacional, el capítulo esclarece los efectos de la renovada atención por la vida local en términos de sus efectos disciplinantes. Para ilustrar estos efectos, el capítulo narra etnográficamente los dilemas enfrentados en la ciudad de Bogotá por un grupo de desplazados internos por el conflicto armado en Colombia. En la lucha (infructuosa) de estos ciudadanos por obtener el reconocimiento de sus derechos en Bogotá, es posible entender los dilemas inmersos en la emergencia de las ciudades en las actuales políticas internacionales de desarrollo local y los planes nacionales de descentralización. Así mismo, en la lucha de estos ciudadanos es posible ver como el nuevo rol asumido por las ciudades en el ámbito nacional e internacional ha traído consigo una multiplicación de niveles de governanza sobre el actuar local que ha generado no solo una preocupación por el buen gobierno de nuestras localidades, pero también una ansiedad por controlar a esos que ponen en riesgo el proyecto de tener ciudades internacionalizadas, competitivas y sostenibles.

    This chapter offers an account of the current international interest on our cities, municipalities and local jurisdictions, and it asks what could be our best understanding and use of urban law in this context. Critically examining the evolution of the relation between local and national and international levels of government, the chapter outlines some of the disciplinary effects of the current global attention to local municipalities. In order to illustrate these disciplinary effects, the chapters describes ethnographically the issues faced by a group of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) who engaged in a long protest to obtain the fulfillment of their rights in the city of Bogotá, Colombia's capital city. In the (unsuccessful) battle of this group of citizens to obtain the fulfillment of their rights, it is possible to appreciate the dilemmas that are enclosed in the current emergence of local jurisdictions in international development policies and national planes of decentralization. At the same time, in the evolution of the protest of these citizens it is possible to observe how the new role of local jurisdictions vis-à-vis national governments and the international order has brought with itself a multiplication of levels of governance upon the actions of local administrations. This situation has generated in local administrations not only an increasing awareness about the need for good local government practices, but also an anxiety to manage those who challenge the objective of having localities that are internationally recognized, competitive and sustainable.
  • Garcia-Salmones, M. and Eslava, L. (2010). Jurisdictional Colonisation in the Spanish and British Empires: Some Reflections on a Global Public Order and the Sacred. In: Ruiz Fabri, H., Wolfrum, R. and Gogolin, J. eds. Select Proceedings of the European Society of International Law. Hart Publishing, pp. 53-81.
    A public legal order that aspires to be global must involve the possibility of the sacred. The international legal system should thus be open to the sacred if it strives to create order among states in global governance. These claims arise from a reflection on international law in which we have tried to move beyond imperialistic conceptions of order and modern fears about the role of religion in international law. Here we examine the relation between religion and international law by applying a genealogical approach to two important legal international projects for ordering the world: one theological, the other humanist. Two imperial stories of universalism, redemption, conquest and conversion are recounted. The first occurred during the initial conquest of the New World, and its main characters are the Spanish Empire and the indigenous people of South America. The second story concerns the British Empire and European colonisation in North America.
  • Eslava, L. (2003). The Method of Law and Economics: A Framework to Study the Scarcity, the Traffic and the Market of Human Organs. In: Colección Enrique Low Murtra, Tomo IV. Bogotá: Universidad Externado de Colombia, pp. 173-265.

Edited book

  • Alessandrini, D., Perry-Kessaris, A., Eslava, L. and Bedford, K. (2020). Law and Development: A Connected Approach. Alessandrini, D., Perry-Kessaris, A., Eslava, L. and Bedford, K. eds. Bloomsbury.
  • Eslava, L. (2017). Bandung, Global History and International Law: Critical Pasts and Pending Futures. [Online]. Eslava, L., Fakhri, M. and Nesiah, V. eds. Cambridge University Press. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/9781316414880.
    In 1955, a conference was held in Bandung, Indonesia that was attended by representatives from twenty-nine nations. Against the backdrop of crumbling European empires, Asian and African leaders forged new alliances and established anti-imperial principles for a new world order. The conference came to capture popular imaginations across the Global South and, as counterpoint to the dominant world order, it became both an act of collective imagination and a practical political project for decolonization that inspired a range of social movements, diplomatic efforts, institutional experiments and heterodox visions of the history and future of the world. In this book, leading international scholars explore what the spirit of Bandung has meant to people across the world over the past decades and what it means today. It analyzes Bandung's complicated and pivotal impact on global history, international law and, most of all, justice struggles after the end of formal colonialism.
  • Eslava, L., Obregon, L. and Urena, R. (2016). Imperialism and International Law: History and Legacy (In Spanish: Imperialismo Y Derecho Internacional: Historia Y Legado). [Online]. Eslava, L., Obregón, L. and Ureña, R. eds. Siglo del Hombre Editores. Available at: http://libreriasiglo.com/ciencias-juridicas/25667-imperialismo-y-derecho-internacional.html#.We2ox1tSxhE.

Edited journal

  • Eslava, L., Obregon, L. and Koskenniemi, M. eds. (2018). Imperial Locations and International Law. Leiden Journal of International Law 31.
  • Chiam, M., Eslava, L., Painter, G.R., Parfitt, R. and Peevers, C. eds. (2017). History, Anthropology and the Archive of International Law. London Review of International Law 5.

Internet publication

  • Eslava, L. and Pahuja, S. (2017). A World of “Sound” and “Clash": An Interview With Taru Dalmia [Critical Legal thinking - blog]. Available at: http://criticallegalthinking.com/2017/04/03/world-of-sound-and-clash-interview-with-taru-dalmia-part-1/.
  • Eslava, L. (2016). Colombia: Counter/Revolution in Present Tense [Critical Legal Thinking - Blog]. Available at: http://criticallegalthinking.com/2016/10/06/colombia-counterrevolution-present-tense/.
  • Eslava, L. (2016). Colombia: Counter/Revolution in Present Tense [Republication, English and Arabic - blog]. Available at: https://madamasr.com/en/2016/10/06/feature/politics/colombia-counterrevolution-in-present-tense/.
  • Eslava, L. (2016). Colombia: The Rubble of History and the Future to Come [Critical Legal Thinking - Blog]. Available at: http://criticallegalthinking.com/2016/09/29/colombia-rubble-history-future-come/.
  • Chiam, M., Eslava, L., Painter, G., Parfitt, R. and Peevers, C. (2014). Interruption: Five Artefacts of International Law [Blog Post]. Available at: http://criticallegalthinking.com/2014/12/16/interruption-five-artefacts-international-law/.
  • Eslava, L. (2014). Dense Struggle (I): Violence and the Otherworldly [Online blog]. Available at: http://criticallegalthinking.com/2014/05/01/dense-struggle-violence-otherworldly/.


  • Eslava, L., Natarajan, U. and Parfitt, R. (2012). (Post)Revolutionary Interlinkages: Labour, Environment and Accumulation. Transnational Legal Theory [Online] 4:108-125. Available at: https://doi.org/10.5235/20414005.4.1.108.
    In this collective review, we explore Timothy Mitchells Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil with a view to reflecting critically on a contemporary historical juncture, which we call a
    (post)revolutionary moment. The review builds on discussions at a seminar we co-organised in Doha, Qatar under the auspices of Harvard Law Schools Institute for Global Law and Policy as part of its annual workshop in January 2013.1 Carbon Democracy is part of a significant body of scholarship stretching over several decades where Mitchell explores the relationship between economic expertise
    and the material conditions of socio-economic development. Mitchells analyses over the years have been wide-ranging in their interests and implications, but his particular focus has been the Arab region. In Carbon Democracy, Mitchell maintains this geographical focus, investigating the internal mechanics and political repercussions of that quintessential Middle Eastern commodity, oil. Yet this is
    not an ordinary resuscitation of the rentier states thesis: as Mitchell explains: [r]ather than a study of democracy and oil, [this] became a book about democracy as oilas a form of politics whose mechanisms on multiple levels involve the processes of producing and using carbon energy (5).2
  • Eslava, L. (2007). Book Review (Developing Power: How Women Transformed International Development) Fraser, A. S. and Tinker, I. eds. Feminist Legal Studies [Online] 15:255-257. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10691-007-9061-2.
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