Lunchtime Seminar Series with Dr Andrew Lang, London School of Economics

4 March 2010

The Neoliberal Moment in International Law

Around the late 1990s, a 'trade and human rights' debate emerged: on the one hand, claims were made that certain formal conflicts may exist between trade law and human rights law, and that human rights law may require particular forms of state intervention in markets which trade law forbids; on the other, the global project of trade liberalisation was presented as fundamentally compatible with, and reinforcing of, the global promotion of human rights. This seminar will offer an intervention in that debate along two axes.

First, it historicises the trade and human rights debate as a projection or internationalisation of domestic political struggles over neoliberal transformations of the state in the developed and developing world.It shows how these political struggles, when projected into the international field, are recast as problems of a fragmented legal order, requiring 'inter-regime co-ordination' as a solution.It asks what the consequences of such a reframing might be, and draws attention to a number of the more disturbing paths down which it might lead.

Second, it uses the trade and human rights debate as a launching point for an explorationof the relationship between international legal regimes and regimes of expert knowledge. How is international economic law informed by evolutions in orthodox economic knowledges, and how conversely do international legal regimes contribute to the evolution, projection and mobilisation of expert economic knowledges? One purpose of this line of enquiry is to question too simple models which posit WTO law as unproblematically an embodiment and global projection of neoliberal economic prescriptions.

About the Speaker

Dr Andrew Lang, London School of Economics

Dr Lang is a Senior Lecturer in the Law Department of the London School of Economics and specialises in International Economic Law and Public International Law. His current research is focussed on a number of themes around global economic governance, including the relationship between law and expert knowledge, and sociological approaches to the study of the trade regime.

Time: Light lunch 12:30pm - 1:00pm; Seminar 1:00pm - 2.00pm

Location: Sydney Law School, Building F10, Eastern Avenue, University of Sydney

Cost: Free

Contact: Events Coordinator

Phone: 9351 0429

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