Groningen Journal of International Law

International Law Under Construction


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EUROPEAN STATES TO RETURN BENIN BRONZES TO NIGERIA: TOWARDS A DECOLONISED LEGAL BASIS FOR ANCHORING CULTURAL RESTITUTION CLAIMS

Anh Nguyen

Introduction and Historical Background of the Benin Bronzes

In 1897 over 3000 plaques and sculptures known as the Benin Bronzes were looted by British troops in an armed “punitive expedition” against the Benin Kingdom after its ruler, the Oba, massacred a British delegation for not heeding his warning not to enter the kingdom during a sacred period. The Benin Bronzes were brought back to Britain, where they were transferred to the British Museum, which still houses the largest collection of Benin Bronzes in the world, as well as to other European and US institutions and private collectors.

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TWAIL Coordinates

Luis Eslava | L.Eslava@kent.ac.uk

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Tenant purchase borrowers in front of their house in rural Puerto Rico (c. 1941–42). FSA-Office of War Information Collection. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., USA.*

Third World Approaches to International Law, best known by its acronym TWAIL, is a dynamic, intentionally open-ended and decentralised network of international law scholars who think about and with the Third World.

Within the universe of TWAIL, the ‘Third World’ refers to that expansive and usually subordinated socio-political geography that, during the mid-twentieth century, came to be seen as ‘non-aligned’ – belonging neither to the ‘free’ nor to the ‘communist’ world. Today the Third World is more often referred to, however, as the ‘developing world’, the ‘post-colonial world’, or the (Global) South. In our intensely unequal, racialised, gendered, environmentally precarious global order, confronting a proliferation of Souths in the North and Norths in the South, this socio-political geography can perhaps be better characterised as ‘most of the world’.

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