Anti-Colonial Legalities: Paradigms, Tactics & Strategy

18 Palestine Yearbook of International Law (2015) 8-52

46 Pages Posted: 27 Nov 2015 Last revised: 22 Jul 2016

See all articles by John Reynolds

John Reynolds

National University of Ireland, Maynooth

Date Written: November 1, 2015


The tasks of this paper are (i) to explore the “alternative” public international law paradigms put forward by some as preferable to the “traditional” laws of occupation and armed conflict in understanding and challenging the situation in Palestine from an international law perspective, and (ii) to offer some thoughts on questions of tactics and strategy if law is to be deployed in pursuit of Palestinian liberation.

Settler colonialism is the core ideological project from which the derivatives of forced population transfer and apartheid flow. These three overlapping frameworks are knitted together by common underpinning logics of settlement and racialisation. This was the case historically in European colonial empires, as it was under apartheid in southern Africa, and as it remains in Palestine today. The paper therefore begins by situating these conceptual frameworks in historical and legal context. It then considers law as a skeletal structure which can be fleshed out with hegemonic or counter-hegemonic muscle, before turning to discuss the perils and possibilities of employing legal tactics in pursuit of transformative anti-colonial strategy.

Keywords: international law, palestine, israel, colonialism

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Reynolds, John, Anti-Colonial Legalities: Paradigms, Tactics & Strategy (November 1, 2015). 18 Palestine Yearbook of International Law (2015) 8-52, Available at SSRN:

John Reynolds (Contact Author)

National University of Ireland, Maynooth ( email )

Maynooth, County Kildare

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