Essay Competition: International law and the Popular Consciousness in South Asia

International Law and the Global South and Research Society of International Law, Pakistan are inviting submissions for an essay competition on ‘International law and the Popular Consciousness in South Asia’ for scholars, practitioners and students from the region.

The Topic

Despite its claims to universality, international law is a colonial gift to much of the non-European world, including South Asia, the most populous and economically dynamic region on the planet. However, it is important to emphasize that South Asian states were not simply passive subjects of international law throughout history (see, for example, the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, the Non-Aligned Movement, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation etc.) This duality can, at least partly, explain the attitude towards international law in the region.

Yet there is scant literature on international law and the popular consciousness in South Asia – a region where politics has so often been centred around territorial disputes, conduct in war, self-determination, trade, porous borders, claims of occupation, migration (legal and illegal), etc. Of particular salience are issues of climate change. The coastal regions of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are threatened by rising sea levels and flooding; landlocked Afghanistan, Bhutan, and Nepal face droughts and glacial melting; the Maldives face the chilling prospect of complete submersion. Very recently, the climate crisis contributed to terrible floods in Pakistan, causing unprecedented human suffering.

Here, then, lies an opportunity for authors to look into how claims about the legitimacy of international actions are made by officials, reinforced by popular media, and contested or debated by the general public. 

Some (purely suggestive) research questions which fall under this theme:

  • How are international law and norms depicted in film and television
  • Do political leaders or other actors refer to international law during campaigning or otherwise? If so, what areas of international law (e.g., climate change, human rights, trade and investment) are relied upon? What does this tell us about the perception of international law in South Asia?
  • Are international law scholars called to public debates? How are they introduced and treated, and what is expected of them?

The research could also be empirical: collecting data on perceptions of international law from local lawyers, students, etc. 

We also encourage potential contributors to think through the ways we can decolonise our imaginations of international law in South Asia.


  • Submissions are accepted only in electronic form. The submission must be uploaded onto this form with the document title as ‘Submission – [Your Full Name]’. Please note that submissions made through email will not be considered. All submissions must contain the following:
  • The article in a .doc or .docx format. 
  • The document should contain:
    • The author’s name;
    • The author’s professional information;
    • The title of the manuscript;
    • The author’s contact details.
  1. The submission deadline is 11:59 pm, 30th November 2022.
  2. The submissions will be screened for plagiarism.
  3. Co-authorship is permitted up to a maximum of two authors.
  4. Submissions must conform to the Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities (OSCOLA), 4th Edition.


  • Winning Entry : Cash prize of 500 USD (approximately 41,000 INR) and publication of their essay in the International Law and Global South blog.
  • Runners Up Entry: Case Prize of 400 USD (approximately 32,000 INR), and publication of their essay in the International Law and Global South blog.
  • Winning one of the awards will also carry with it the presentation of the paper at a symposium to be held later.
  • All Participants: Additionally, all participants will get a participation certificate.

Disbursement of the cash prize to each winner is subject to any applicable tax reporting and withholding requirements.


For any questions or clarifications, the authors may contact the Organisers at: 

Shubhangi Agarwalla,                                                         Ayesha Malik

Founder, International Law & the Global South   Team Lead, Conflict Law Centre, RSIL                    

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