International Economic Law's Wreckage: Depoliticization, Inequality, Precarity
Forthcoming in Research Handbook on Critical Legal Theory - Edited by Emilios Christodoulidis, Ruth Dukes, Marco Goldoni - Edward Elgar
30 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2018 Last revised: 31 Oct 2018
Date Written: May 28, 2018
By purporting to depoliticize markets, international economic law complicates solutions to precarity and inequality within and between states and regions. Separating out markets from ordinary politics, the novel legal orders of trade and investment choose winners and losers, determining who will adapt to whom so as to render their policy goals most efficacious. In so doing, trade and investment law expresses preferences about how political and social life should be organized, rendering solutions to pressing social problems more difficult to address. This chapter interrogates these two legal regimes, arguing that they exhibit a similar tilt that favours global capital, precipitating similar legitimacy problems, and kindred responses that aim to manage the fall out. They reveal, in other words, startling comparable trajectories that rely on similar techniques to manage resistance. International economic law’s plan of action turns out to be unified: to deflect critique, disarm states, and weaponize legal rules. We conclude that, so long as international economic law does not take precarity and inequality seriously, its trade and investment regimes will remain vulnerable to political blowback.
Keywords: International Economic Law, Foreign Investment, International Trade, Arbitration, Critical Legal Studies
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