Equality in Global Commerce: Towards a Political Theory of International Economic Law

Oisin Suttle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
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Notwithstanding International Economic Law’s (IEL’s) inevitable distributional effects, IEL scholarship has had limited engagement with theoretical work on global distributive justice and fairness. In part this reflects the failure of global justice theorists to derive principles that can be readily applied to the concrete problems of IEL. This article bridges this gap, drawing on existing coercion-based accounts of global justice in political theory to propose a novel account of global distributive justice that both resolves problems within the existing theoretical literature and can be directly applied to both explain and critique concrete issues in IEL, including in particular WTO law. By complementing existing coercion-based accounts with a more nuanced typology of international coercion, it distinguishes two morally salient classes of economically relevant measures: External Trade Measures (ETMs), which pursue their goals specifically through the regulation of international economic activity; and Domestic Economic Measures (DEMs), which do not. The distinctive intentional relationship between ETMs and the outsiders they affect means such measures require more stringent justification, in terms of global equality or other goals those outsiders themselves share; whereas DEMs can be justified under the principle of self-determination. Non-Product Related Production Processes and Methods (NPRPPMs) provide a case study to show how this framework can illuminate recurring problems in IEL.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1043-1070
Number of pages28
JournalEuropean Journal of International Law
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 2014


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