Bowring’s Legacies in ASEAN– Research project under the CTSS Research Grant 2021 for Professor Kevin Crow


This project aims to reconstruct extraterritorial legal decisions from the UK in Siam that did not survive an intervening 150-year period. The decisions were originally published within British consul reports detailing legal judgments consuls reached in accordance with extraterritorial jurisdiction provisions enshrined in the 1855 Bowring Treaty between Siam and the United Kingdom. Although Thailand/Siam was never officially colonialized, the Bowring Treaty required that British citizens living and trading in Siam be subject to the laws of the United Kingdom, which expanded to economic as well as criminal disputes; in some cases, it expanded to non-UK citizens. These disputes were settled by British consuls who often held no legal training yet harnessed an interpretive authority backed by the specter of Empire. The Bowring Treaty—while sometimes credited with introducing European tax modalities to Thailand and often considered a good example of ‘gunboat diplomacy’—is understudied by international legal scholars generally and amongst Third World Approaches to International Law (“TWAIL”) scholars specifically