Document Type


Publication Date



Development is about aspiration—our longing for a better life as individuals and as a community—and respect, as we individually and collectively recognize and support these aspirations. Development requires the freedom to define and choose that better life; a fair share of the resources needed to realize that life; and narratives of where we currently stand with regard to our aspirations and why, where we want to go, and what it will take to get there. This means that development inevitably takes place in and through politics, law, and the social sciences (especially economics), as we work to articulate our claims and understand how development can occur sustainably within an environment of finite resources. Development raises difficult issues of causality, path dependence, responsibility and justice, which can and have led to urgent and painful conflicts. However, globalization and recent innovative thinking on development may herald a new “post-national” development discourse in which we no longer arbitrarily distinguish between the “local” and the “global,” opening the way to increased understanding and cooperation towards deeply shared aims, and a more just global order, meaning inclusive, effective investment in human capabilities for everyone.


This essay is an entry in the forthcoming Encyclopedia of International Economic Law from Edward Elgar Publishing, edited by Krista Nadakavukaren Schefer and Thomas Cottier and due to be published in 2016.