Edited by Ljiljana Biukovic and Pitman B. Potter
Chapter 7: Local communities, cultural heritage and international economic law
What role do local communities play in the making of international economic law? Do local cultural heritage and values matter in the adjudication of international economic disputes? Where there is a conflict between the objective of global economic liberalization and the pursuit of local cultural policies, should the local give way to the global? Like other branches of international law, international economic law treats each state as one unit and does not typically focus on the different subparts within states. As a result, local communities do not appear in the text of international economic law treaties. Only recently have local communities gradually emerged in the adjudication of international economic disputes. Despite their gradual appearance, they still remain significantly absent or marginalized in mainstream international economic law discourse. This chapter thus aims to fill this gap in legal literature by investigating the impact of economic globalization on local communities and the role that local communities play in international economic law and adjudication. Socio-legal approaches to international economic governance reveal that, substantively, a clash of culture can emerge between an international economic culture aimed at productivity and development and local cultural practices. Procedurally, international economic courts may not be the most appropriate tribunals for disputes adjudicating cultural heritage-related issues. After briefly discussing these findings, this chapter highlights two different yet complementary avenues for integrating local communities’ concerns into the fabric of international economic law.
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