UCL Faculty of Laws


Distributive Justice & World Trade Law

21 February 2018, 6:00 pm–7:30 pm

Image of front cover of book and author

A Book Launch by Dr Oisin Suttle (Queen's University Belfast)

Event Information

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UCL Laws


UCL Roberts Building, Sir David Davies LT, Torrington Place, London WC1E 7JE

Distributive Justice and World Trade Law: A Political Theory of International Trade Regulation

Author: Dr Oisin Suttle (Queen’s University Belfast)
Discussant: Dr Barnali Choudhury (UCL)
Chair: Dr Martins Paparinskis (UCL)

What does justice demand in international trade regulation? And how far does the law of the World Trade Organization (WTO) respond to those demands? Claims of justice and injustice have been a recurring feature of trade politics for decades. Whether our focus is developing countries, struggling industries, or environmental protection, distributive conflict is a pervasive feature of international economic law, as different constituencies make competing demands that cannot readily be reconciled. Yet despite this, we lack an adequate theory of distributive justice for this domain, which can order our conflicting intuitions, integrate competing claims, and propose a standard against which the trade regime can be judged.

In his book, Distributive Justice and World Trade Law (CUP, 2017), Oisin Suttle seeks to fill that gap. Drawing on philosophical approaches to global justice, the book advances a novel theory of justice in trade regulation, and applies this to explain and critique the law of the WTO. Integrating theoretical and doctrinal approaches, it demonstrates the potential for political theory to illuminate and inform the progressive development of WTO law, including rules on border measures, discrimination, trade remedies and domestic regulation. Written from an interdisciplinary perspective, accessible to lawyers, philosophers and political scientists, it seeks to speak both to theorists interested in building bridges from theory to practice, and practitioners seeking new perspectives on existing problems.

This event will introduce the book, its key claims and arguments, and provide an opportunity to think critically about the role of alternative approaches in trade law scholarship. It will also provide an opportunity to consider the relevance of theoretical scholarship in the face of contemporary challenges to the trade regime.

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