Research Handbook on Global Justice and International Economic Law

Research Handbook on Global Justice and International Economic Law

Research Handbooks on Globalisation and the Law series

Edited by John Linarelli

The fairness of institutions of global economic governance ranks among the most pressing issues of our time. Most approaches to understanding the complex structure of treaties and intergovernmental organizations such as the WTO tend to uncritically accept an economic focus, highlighting gains from trade and the merits of progressive trade and investment liberalization. While the economic arguments are compelling, other ways of thinking about the roles of these institutions have received less attention. The Research Handbook fills this gap by offering a substantial interdisciplinary examination of the normative and policy underpinnings of the international economic order.

Chapter 1: Theories of global justice

Gillian Brock

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, international economic law, trade law, public international law, politics and public policy, human rights


What is global justice? Like many concepts in political philosophy, what global justice consists in is contested and the subject of much debate. However we can identify at least one common element to theorists’ use of the term, namely, an appreciation that the topic of justice is not exhausted by considering what justice within a state consists in, but rather that global justice includes a concern for matters of justice that extend beyond the borders of one’s state (which was the focus for most philosophical theorizing about justice up until a decade ago). Typical questions that have been the subject of much debate include these: What does global distributive justice consist of? What do people in one country owe to those in other countries? In particular, what are people living in affluent countries to do for those in vulnerable positions in developing countries, such as those who live off less than $1 (US) per day? What responsibilities, if any, arise from basic human rights? If we ought to protect basic human rights, when is military intervention permissible in the name of such protection? How, if at all, does membership in states or communities of affiliation matter to our obligations to assist? Is partiality towards compatriots justified in a world filled with the more pressing needs of non-compatriots? If there are obligations of global justice, how will these be implemented or enforced? Should our accounts of global justice be feasible? Is global democracy feasible or desirable?

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