On the political economy of ethnic violence and statelessness
In June 2022, Mohammad Shahabuddin, Professor of International Law & Human Rights at Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham, UK, presented as part of the Refugees, Citizenship & Statelessness: Asia in Focus' Seminar Series.
The ideology of the postcolonial ‘developmental’ state not only results in the marginalisation of minorities but also serves to legitimise and gloss over asymmetric power relations that produce such marginalisation. Development projects disproportionately target minority lands and forests, with long-term devastating effects on the cultures and the very existence of minorities. Statelessness is a direct outcome of such political and economic marginalisation as part of the ideological operation of the postcolonial ‘developmental’ state. International law provides a framework within which international actors and postcolonial states suppress minority interests in the name of economic development, whereas minorities – being politically marginalised – suffer the most due to such development activities. Genocidal violence against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar illustrates these arguments.
Mohammad Shahabuddin is Professor of International Law & Human Rights at Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham, UK. His research interests include history and theory of international law, international human rights with special focus on minority rights, postcolonialism and the law, and Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL). He is the author of Minorities and the Making of Postcolonial States in International Law (2021) and Ethnicity and International Law: Histories, Politics, and Practices (2016), both published with Cambridge University Press. Professor Shahabuddin was an Expert Panellist at the 14th Session of the UN Human Rights Council’s Minority Rights Forum in December 2021.