Research Handbooks on Globalisation and the Law series
Edited by John Linarelli
Writing about the relationship between theories of justice and inter- national economic law today requires that we begin with three preliminary points. First, by international economic law we mean the public international law of economic relations between states and, to an extent, between states, individuals and firms, together with the treaty-based institutions (such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Inter- national Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank) created to implement, monitor and adjudicate this body of law. This field is dominated by legal regimes whose aim is trade liberalization, but includes international investment and financial law and the international law of economic development, as well.1 Second, by theories of justice we 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 with a share in the relevant community or enterprise. Finally, we note the essential and increasingly recognized relationship between the two: international economic law and its institutions are powerful engines of resource allocation, between states and within states among various groups, entities, firms and individuals. That relationship is the subject of this chapter. Why has the relationship between justice and international economic law become an increasingly urgent (and studied) one? We offer three reasons. First, the stark figures on global poverty, with an undeniable (but contentious) connection to the structure of economic relations between and within countries, have highlighted the stakes involved in this relationship.
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