Document Type

Article

Publication Date

5-30-2018

Abstract

Why does a textbook on trade law end with a chapter on justice? By justice I mean that branch of political theory (going back to Aristotle) that concerns itself with the allocative fairness of social institutions, i.e. how rights, resources, privileges and opportunities are divided among those participating in the social enterprise. Why, indeed, has the relationship between justice and international economic law become an increasingly urgent subject of academic and policy debate? First, it has been increasingly recognized that international economic law and its institutions are powerful engines of resource allocation, establishing patterns of distribution for market access, subsidies, IP, investment capital, rights of establishment, dispute resolution between states and within states, and among various groups, entities, firms and individuals. So, we must then ask ourselves, “What kind of distributive pattern is international economic law making, and what do we think of it?” The stark figures on global poverty and political instability around the world, with an undeniable (but contentious) connection to the structure of economic relations between and within countries, have highlighted the stakes involved in this relationship. So too have the globalization debates, putting the distributive effects of international economic law and its institutions at the centre of global justice.

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