The Challenge of International Rule Making
Chapter 4: The Choice of Venue
INTRODUCTION An extraordinary mix of venues is used in international rule making. In May 1944 Keynes was aghast to learn that the United States intended to invite 44 countries to participate in the Bretton Woods conference that he was to co-chair. He complained to a friend and colleague that it would be ‘the most monstrous monkey house assembled for years’ and listed 21 of those 44 countries that in his view would not be able to contribute to the work of the conference.1 Yet, at an earlier point, when he had to defend the proposed international agreements in front of a political audience, he sang a different tune. He referred approvingly to the need for ‘consciousness of consent’ – meaning that it was desirable that all countries that were going to sign up to post war financial and monetary arrangements knew full well what they were doing and had agreed to the commitments they would be undertaking.2 Keynes’s ambiguity illustrates two very different sentiments about the form of venue for reaching agreement on international rules. In wishing the conference to be kept small and limited to those who could contribute to the substance of the discussion, he was expressing a preference for a venue where the experts could have fruitful talks. In referring to the importance of the ‘consciousness of consent’ he was enlisting a different principle – that a venue that included everybody was normatively ‘appropriate’ for an agreement that was intended to include all countries. Within three years of the...
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