A Conflicts-Law Response to the Precarious Legitimacy of Transnational Trade Governance
Forthcoming in Research Handbook on the Sociology of International Law edited by Moshe Hirsch and Andrew Lang
33 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2017
Date Written: June 1, 2017
This paper discusses the fundamental tensions between economic globalisation and democratic politics in the field of international trade. New bilateral and regional trade agreements increasingly incorporate other “trade-related” policy areas and threaten to constrain state action and democratic politics. The move towards deeper and more comprehensive trade deals has greatly accentuated grievances and is of exemplary importance in the realms of transnational governance. This article examines the decoupling of these agreements from national and democratic control and the resulting legitimacy impasses of transnational governance based upon the theoretical frameworks of Karl Polanyi and Dani Rodrik. Arguing that politics is not a mistake that gets in the way of markets, we submit our own conceptualisation of transnational legitimacy. In doing so, we suggest a new type of conflicts law which does not seek to overcome socio-economic and political diversity by some substantive transnational regime, but responds to diversity with procedural safeguards, thus ensuring space for co-operative problem-solving and the search for fair compromises.
Keywords: International trade, mega-regional trade agreements, Karl Polanyi, Dani Rodrik, conflicts law, globalisation, democracy, legitimacy
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