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Law and Lawyers in Global Governance by Professor Sol Picciotto

Lecture organised by the Centre for Law, Governance and Regulation of the Global Economy (GLOBE) on Thursday 23rd January 2020.


The talk will outline the changes over the past half-century in the forms of management of international economic activity, focusing on the role of law. It will outline how the growth of transnational corporations (TNCs) from the 1950s both was facilitated by the postwar international structures (the ‘Bretton Woods’ institutions) and undermined them. This involved a shift from ‘classical’ or ‘embedded’ liberalism, in which states were interdependent, with both economic and social management primarily centred on national governments, loosely coordinated through treaties, to new forms of ‘global governance’. This involved: (i) the rise of the ‘regulatory state’, and (ii) a shift from hierarchy to polyarchy in forms of state and law. In turn, these reflect new forms of power relations, which are multilevel and operate through governance networks, while growing technical specialisation creates a gap between technocratic and political discourse. Law plays a key role, in both managing multilevel interactions, and mediating struggles over legitimacy, which are ultimately about the democratic accountability of these new forms of governance.

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