The EU employs certain regional trade instruments (mainly regional trade agreements and trade preferences granted to developing countries) to promote compliance with global human rights law. The use of these trade mechanisms to enforce global human rights law is significantly motivated by the collective identity and perceived social role of the EU in the international community as a promoter of human rights worldwide. These EU identity-driven measures may also affect the identity of international actors targeted by such measures. Economic and political dimensions of international law are often overlain with a social identity dimension. While in reality these dimensions are inseparable, this chapter is devoted to a social identity analysis of the EU’s employment of external trade instruments to promote human rights worldwide. This chapter sheds light on the enactment of EU trade policies in this sphere, their employment, and their potential to enhance compliance with international human rights law. These EU identity-driven trade measures present both advantages and drawbacks, and have different effects on in-group and out-group members. A social identity analysis of the EU trade and human rights policy also offers some policy recommendations which may improve the prospects of EU measures in this field.
The chapter exposes the three principal perspectives mentioned in the introduction to this volume that are widely recognized in sociological literature: the structural-functional perspective, the symbolic-interactionist approach, and the social conflict perspective. The chapter discusses three general approaches to international law, inspired by the above-mentioned key sociological perspectives, highlighting the sociological dimension of some international legal issues (like the invalidity of treaties, the enforcement of international law, and the structure and flexibility of international legal regimes). The chapter employs those core sociological perspectives to analyse alternative interpretations of the relevant WTO legal provisions regarding the regulation of regional trade agreements, and offers some conclusions regarding the desirable approach in this sphere.
Moshe Hirsch and Andrew Lang
International legal scholarship has increasingly turned to various traditions of sociology and social thought to challenge the constraints of orthodox international legal thinking, and to develop new kinds of thinking, more suitable for the rapidly transforming social and political landscape in which contemporary international lawyering is done. This Research Handbook seeks to showcase this work, marking the present fertile period of creative borrowing between the disciplines of international law and sociology with a collection of works at its cutting edge. Each contributor to the Research Handbook situates their intervention within a particular tradition of sociological or social theoretical thinking, and then explains how and why this tradition is useful in thinking about some contemporary development, or problem, within the domain of international law and governance. This introductory chapter seeks to clear the ground for the contributions which follow, by outlining a map of some major theoretical conversations within sociology. It identifies three core approaches which are most commonly identified in sociological literature, and briefly reflects on a number of early engagements between international law and sociology (mainly the writings of Max Huber and Julius Stone). It then argues that more recent engagements between international law and social thought stem in significant part from attempts to understand the nature, dynamics, and stakes of globalization as it relates to law, and reflect the main arena in which the significance of post-structural social theory for international law continues to be negotiated and defined.