Andrew Lang
Andrew Lang

Administrative support: Karen Williams
Room: New Academic Building 6.19
Tel. 020-7849-4644    

Andrew Lang is a Professor of Law, teaching Public International Law, with a specialty in International Economic Law. He has a combined BA/LLB from the University of Sydney, and his PhD is from the University of Cambridge. From 2004-6, Prof Lang was a Junior Research Fellow at Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge. In 2012-13, he was awarded a British Academy mid-Career Fellowship.

He is a co-founder, with Colin Picker, of the Society of International Economic Law. He sits on the Editorial Committee of the Modern Law Review, the Editorial Boards of the London Review of International Law and the Journal of International Economic, and has been a Book Review Editor for the International and Comparative Law Quarterly.

Professor Lang has taught on Harvard's Institute for Global Law and Policy, the University Melbourne LLM program, the World Trade Institute's Masters of International Law and Economics (MILE) program, the University of Barcelona's IELPO course, as well as the IIEM Academy of International Trade Law in Macau.

He has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard Law School, Visiting Fellow at the Institute of International Economic Law at Georgetown University Law Center, Visiting Faculty at the University of Michigan, and an International Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Sydney.

Professor Lang has recently consulted for the European Parliament, writing two reports on the treatment of financial services in EU free trade agreements, and in the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). He has also worked as part of a team conducting a Sustainability Impact Assessment for two prospective FTAs between the EU and partner countries.

His current research thematically focussed on a number of themes around global economic governance, including the relationship between law and expert knowledge, theoretical international law and economics, and sociological approaches to the study of international economic law. He is co-authoring a commentary on the WTO’s Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, and has ongoing projects relating to the treatment of subsidies in WTO law, the WTO implications of Brexit, and the SPS agreement.

Research interests

Current research interests include: sociological and constructivist approaches to the study of international organisations (focussing on the WTO); the design of global governance institutions in conditions of pervasive uncertainty; the interaction between international trade law and other sub-fields of international law (particularly human rights law); the General Agreement on Trade in Services; and the impact of WTO legal obligations on domestic regulatory decision-making processes.

External Activities
  • Co-Founder and Executive Vice President of the Society of International Economic Law

  • Member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of International Economic Law

  • Book Review Editor for the International and Comparative Law Quarterly

  • Member of the Editorial Committee of the Modern Law Review

  • Member of the Editorial Board of the Law and Development Review

  • Member of the Faculty of the World Trade Institute's Masters of International Law and Economics

  • Member of the Faculty of the University of Barcelona's IELPO program


World Trade Law after Neoliberalism : Reimagining the Global Economic Order (Oxford University Press, 2011)

The rise of economic liberalism in the latter stages of the 20th century coincided with a fundamental transformation of international economic governance, especially through the law of the World Trade Organization. In this book, Andrew Lang provides a new account of this transformation, and considers its enduring implications for international law. Against the commonly-held idea that 'neoliberal' policy prescriptions were encoded into WTO law, Lang argues that the last decades of the 20th century saw a reinvention of the international trade regime, and a reconstitution of its internal structures of knowledge. In addition, the book explores the way that resistance to economic liberalism was expressed and articulated over the same period in other areas of international law, most prominently international human rights law. It considers the promise and limitations of this form of 'inter-regime' contestation, arguing that measures to ensure greater collaboration and cooperation between regimes may fail in their objectives if they are not accompanied by a simultaneous destabilization of each regime's structures of knowledge and characteristic features. With that in mind, the book contributes to a full and productive contestation of the nature and purpose of global economic governance.


(2014) 23(3) Social and Legal Studies 403-456
(2013) 26(4) Leiden Journal of International Law 1055-1059
(2013) 4(2) Transnational Legal Theory 305-311
(2012) 15(2) Journal of International Economic Law 701-707
(2012) 55 German Yearbook of International Law 716-718
(2012) 50 Canadian Yearbook of International Law 654-665
(2012) 9(2) Manchester Journal of International Economic Law 226-228
(2012) 23 European Journal of International Law 887-906
(2011) 21 Italian Yearbook of International Law

Selected articles
and chapters in books

'The judicial sensibility of the WTO Appellate Body' European Journal of International Law (2017) 27 (4) pp.1095-1105

'The double movement of law and expertise' in Erin Hannah, James Scott, Silke Trommer (eds)., Expert Knowedlge in Global Trade (Routledge: 2016)

'Twenty years of the WTO Appellate Body’s “fragmentation jurisprudence”' Journal of International Trade Law and Policy  (2015) 14 (3) pp.116-125

This paper aims to reflect on the first 20 years of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body’s jurisprudence, specifically as it relates to questions of normative fragmentation. It provides an overview of some of the highlights of the WTO’s jurisprudence as it pertains to fragmentation, with particular focus on the use of general public international law in the context of the WTO dispute settlement.

'New Legal Realism, Empiricism, and Scientism: The Relative Objectivity of Law and Social Science' Leiden Journal of International Law (2015), 28, pp. pp.231–254

In this article, I suggest that one of the central characteristics of New Legal Realism is the productive tension between empiricist and pragmatist theories of knowledge which lies at its core. On one side, new realist work in its empiricist posture seeks to use empirical knowledge of the world as the basis on which to design, interpret, apply, and criticize the law. On the other, in its pragmatist moments, it explicitly draws attention to the social and political contingency of any claims to empirical knowledge of the world, including its own. As a consequence, it is distinctive of much scholarship in the New Legal Realist vein that it continually enacts creative syntheses of different philosophies of truth in an attempt to be, in Shaffer’s words, 'positivist . . . interpretivist, and legal realist all at once'. The first part of this article draws on existing historical accounts of legal realism briefly to trace the problematic and ambiguous place of scientism in the legal realist tradition. Then, in the second and more important part of the article, I argue that the ambivalence of the legal realists’ vision has left us, in certain contexts, with a complicated form of mixed legal-scientific governance which has proved remarkably and surprisingly resilient in the face of late twentieth century critiques of scientific objectivity. This may be one of the most enduring legacies of the ‘old’ legal realists for those today who work in the New Legal Realist vein.

(with Susan Marks) 'People with Projects: Writing the Lives of International Lawyers', 27 Temple International and Comparative Law Journal (2014) 437-453

'The Consequences of Brexit: Some Complications From International Law'  LSE Law: Policy Briefing Papers 3/2014

Over the last few decades, the United Kingdom has experienced a profound – if quiet – constitutional transformation. But these developments have hardly been appreciated within broader public debates, which remain rooted in/anchored to notions of parliamentary sovereignty. In this paper, we describe the broad contours of constitutional change in the UK over the last decades. We also ask the question, what can and should courts do when faced with ‘unconstitutional’ legislation? We present the case for the development of a modest range of new constitutional review powers for the courts in the coming years.

'Governing "As If": Global Subsidies Regulation and the Benchmark Problem' Current Legal Problems (2014) Volume 67, Issue 1 pp. 135-168.

As a result of the extraordinary work of Foucault, Shapin and Schaffer, Porter, and many others, we are familiar with many of the practices of governance which emerged during the 19th century at the intersection of the modern social sciences and the modern state, as 'naturalized' knowledge of an objectified social body formed the foundation of specific kinds of social and political order. But over the course of the 20th century, critiques of objectivity have become commonplace, and a post-positivist epistemological revolution has taken root in many quarters. How, then, have practices of governance-through-knowledge modified themselves in response to a century of such critiques? This article takes inspiration from the work of Jasanoff, Riles, Latour and others to identify a mode of 'governing as if': a pragmatic mode of governance which works not through the production of objective knowledge as the shared epistemic foundation for political settlements, but rather by generating knowledge claims that stabilize social orderings precisely through their self-conscious partiality, contingency, and context-dependence. This argument is developed using the illustration of global subsidies regulation in World Trade Organization law, focussing in particular on the knowledge practices by which particular conceptions of 'the market' are produced and deployed in the course of its operation. The article argues that the standard criticisms of naturalized economic conceptions of the 'free market', developed in various scholarly traditions throughout the 20th century, do not provide an adequate account of economic governance working in 'as if' mode, either positively or normatively. It further argues, following Riles, that such regimes of governance derive their effectiveness fundamentally from their 'hollow core', and that it is in the constant and active work of 'hollowing out' that we are likely to find their characteristic modalities of power and underlying structural dynamics.

'The Role of the International Court of Justice in a Context of Fragmentation', International and Comparative Law Quarterly, 62 (4) (2013), pp.777-812

Over a decade ago, an important debate began concerning the proper role of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in an international legal universe characterized by a large and rapidly increasing number of specialized courts and tribunals. What functions can and should the Court perform in response to the fragmentation of international law, and the proliferation of international tribunals? Initial proposals, especially those emerging in the late 1990s, were hierarchical and centralist in their orientation, and have justifiably fallen out of favour. This article uses the current international legal disputes about Australia's plain packaging tobacco legislation as the basis for an exploration of the possibilities for an alternative, non-centralist vision for the ICJ, which is sensitive both to the institutional limits of the international judiciary, and to the benefits of a fundamentally pluralist international legal order.

'Emmanuelle Jouannet. The Liberal-Welfarist Law of Nations: A History of International Law'  European Journal of International Law 2013 24: 712-714

'The legal construction of economic rationalities' J. Law & Soc. 2013, 40(1)pp.155-171.

Asks what the role of the law is in the construction and maintenance of forms and practices of calculative rationality in modern markets. Considers the role of sociology, and the work of classical and modern sociologists, in analyzing and influencing the role of the law in the economic sphere, and the potential for a new economic sociology of the law to explain how the law interacts with social and economic structures to constitute the meaning of rationality. Examines the construction of the rational economic subject and economic rationalities, and the cognitive infrastructures of markets.

'Legal regimes and professional knowledges: the internal politics of regime definition' in Young, Regime Interaction in International Law: Facing Fragmentation (Cambridge UP, 2012)

Trade Agreements, Business and Human Rights: The case of export processing zones - April 2010 Working Paper No. 57 : A Working Paper of the: Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative

This report was prepared…to inform the mandate of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Business and Human Rights…The proliferation [of Export Processing Zones (EPZs)] has been of some concern to many within the human rights movement, primarily because of some evidence of low and deteriorating labor standards within these zones… The human rights impacts of EPZs include more than labor issues…This paper draws on this existing work in exploring the relationship between trade agreements, business and human rights based on the Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework for dealing with business and human rights, first set forth by the Special Representative in 2008… This paper focuses on the implementation and operationalization of the Framework’s first pillar, the State 'duty to protect' in the context of EPZs.

(with Joanne Scott) 'The Hidden World of WTO Governance: A Rejoinder to Richard H. Steinberg' European Journal of International Law 2009 20 (4):1073-1076 [reprinted in Steger, Debra P, The World Trade Organization: Critical Perspectives on the World Economy (London: Routledge 2014) pp.575-614]

'Inter-regime Encounters' in Joseph, Kinley and Waincymer (eds), WTO and Human Rights (Edward Elgar 2009)

This collection of essays from leading academics examines the connection between the World Trade Organization (WTO) and human rights issues, a topic which has provoked significant debate, particularly in the decade since the collapsed WTO talks in Seattle in 1999. The editors argue that a true appreciation of the salient issues requires consideration of disciplines beyond the law, such as economics, political science and philosophy. This book builds on previous trade/human rights projects by adding that interdisciplinary dimension.

[with Professor Joanne Scott] 'The Hidden World of WTO Governance' European Journal of International Law 2009 20(3):575-614

In academic literature the WTO is largely viewed as synonymous with its novel system for the settlement of disputes. We seek to demonstrate in this article that there is more to the WTO than this, and to exemplify this claim by reference to two specific sites of non-judicial governance in the WTO. We suggest that these two WTO committees perform important functions which are largely hidden from view. In particular, we point to the role that they play in generating and disseminating information, and as facilitators of technical assistance and regulatory learning. We also suggest that these committees contribute to the emergence of interpretive communities which serve to elaborate upon the open-ended norms laid down in the relevant agreements.

'Legal Regimes and Regimes of Knowledge: Governing Global Services Trade'  LSE Law, Society and Economy Working Paper Series, WPS 15-2009, July 2009

The starting point of this paper is that if we want to understand the way in which international law structures and mediates the deployment of power in international life, then we need to attend to the relationship between law and knowledge - the relationship between international legal processes and the processes by which we collectively come to know, describe, and imagine the world in which we live. My aim is to explore this relationship empirically by looking in detail at one case study, namely the international legal regime governing international trade in services, and specifically, the World Trade Organisation's General Agreement on Trade in Services. Over the last fifteen years, this new body of international law has developed and evolved alongside a corresponding body of social scientific expertise on the nature and dynamics of the global services economy. I tell a story of the co-evolution of these two systems - the legal regime on the one hand, and the body of knowledge on the other - and try to trace in detail the ways in which law and legal processes have been present in processes of knowledge production, shaping the way the global services economy is collectively imagined and its dynamics understood. I offer four axes along which to think about this relationship, corresponding to the concepts of constitution, transmission, objectification and empowerment.

'Taking Uncertainty Seriously: Adaptive Governance and International Trade: A Rejoinder to Monica Garcia-Salmones' (with Rosie Cooney) (2009) European Journal of International Law 20 (1) 187-192

It is always a pleasure and an honour to have a colleague engage with one's work in detail. We are grateful, therefore, to Mónica García-Salmones for her response to our article, and are pleased to have this opportunity to clarify some aspects of our thinking and our approach that may not have been explicit enough in the original piece. Given the limitations of space available, we have decided to put to one side the many points of detail on which we may differ from García-Salmones, and provide simply the broad outlines of a response to the three primary lines of criticism which we understand García-Salmones to be offering.

'The Thirteenth Chime: Experimentalism and the Global Economy' (2008) 71(6) Modern Law Review 984-1000

'Provisional measures under Article 5.7 of the WTO’s Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures: Some Criticisms of the Jurisprudence so far', (Dec 2008) Journal of World Trade

The purpose of this article is to identify two potential diffi culties in the application of Article 5.7 which appear to follow from certain statements made by panels and the Appellate Body in the jurisprudence under that Article so far. The fi rst relates to the situation in which a WTO Member legitimately takes provisional measures under Article 5.7, but refuses to conduct further research as required by that Article. In such circumstances, it is argued, the relevant violation is the failure to conduct further research, not the taking of provisional measures - and the solution must therefore be to require such further research, rather than to invalidate the provisional measures themselves. The second relates to questions of evolving science, and the extent to which Article 5.7 can and ought to remain available as a safe harbour to Members even once a risk assessment has been carried out. It is argued that in some circumstances it should: where substantive inadequacies and limitations of the earlier risk assessment become apparent to policy makers, if new evidence comes to light, and where a previously unconsidered risk is identified. Under the current jurisprudence, it is not clear that Article 5.7 remains appropriately available in all such circumstances.

'The General Agreement on Trade in Services', in Bethlehem, McRae and Neufeld (eds), The Oxford Handbook of International Trade Law (OUP 2008).

This Handbook places international trade law within its broader context, providing comment and critique on contemporary thinking on a range of questions both related specifically to the discipline of international trade law itself and to the outside face of international trade law and its intersection with States and other aspects of the international system. It examines the economic and institutional context of the world trading system, its substantive law (including regional trade regimes) and the settlement of disputes. The final part of the book explores the wider framework of the world trading system, considering issues including the relationship of the WTO to civil society, the use of economic sanctions, state responsibility, and the regulation of multinational corporations.

'Institutions and International Trade: Some Lessons from Sociology' in Picker, Bunn and Arner (eds) International Economic Law: The State and Future of the Discipline (Hart, 2008)

'Bretton Woods' has become shorthand for the post-war international financial and economic framework. Mindful of the historic 1944 conference and its legacy for the discipline of international economic law, the American Society of International Law's International Economic Law Group (IELG) chose Bretton Woods as the venue for a landmark scholarly meeting. In November of 2006, a diverse group of academics and practitioners gathered to reflect on the past, present and future of international economic law. They sought to survey and advance three particular areas of endeavour: research and scholarship, teaching, and practice/service. This book represents an edited collection of some of the exceptional papers presented at the conference including contributions from Andreas Lowenfeld, Joel Trachtman, Amelia Porges and Andrew Lang.

'Re-righting international trade: some critical thoughts on the contemporary trade and human rights literature' in Shan and Simons (eds), Redefining Sovereignty: An International Debate on Sovereignty and International Economic Law (Hart, 2008).

The concept of state sovereignty is increasingly challenged by a proliferation of international economic instruments and major international economic institutions. States from both the south and north are re-examining and debating the extent to which they should cede control over their economic and social policies to achieve global economic efficiency in an interdependent world. International lawyers are seriously rethinking the subject of state sovereignty, in relation to the operation of the main international economic institutions, namely the WTO, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The contributions in this volume, bringing together leading scholars from the developed and developing worlds, take up the challenge of debating the meaning of sovereignty and the impact of international economic law on state sovereignty. The first part looks at the issues from the perspectives of general international law, international economic law and legal theory. Part two discusses the impact of trade liberalisation on the sovereignty of both industrialised and developing states and Part three concentrates on the challenge to state sovereignty created by the proliferation of investment treaties and the significant recent growth of investment treaty based arbitration cases. Part four focuses on the domestic and international effects of international financial intermediaries and markets. Part five explores the tensions and intersections between the international regulation of trade and investment, international human rights and state sovereignty

'The role of the human rights movement in trade policy-making: human rights as a trigger for social learning' (2007) 5 New Zealand Journal of Public and International Law 147-172.

This article reflects on a decade of engagement by the human rights movement in debates about the international trading system. The author contends that this engagement has occurred with little explicit consideration of precisely what human rights actor and humnan rights language have to offer trade policy debates. The question is an important one, in part because trade policy debates have traditionally been framed in technical language, and primarily conducted among a group of specialised experts. In addressing this question, the author reconstructs three models of the ‘value-added’ of human rights, which he sees as implicitly structuring much of the current ‘trade and human rights’ literature. He sets out some advantages and limitations of each of these three models, before offering a fourth, which sees the human rights movement as a ‘trigger’ for policy learning. Human rights actors, he argues, have begun to ask new questions about international trading order, and in doing so have facilitated the production of new kinds of trade policy knowledge, and the creation of new kinds of trade expertise. To the extent that the current international trading system is deeply structured by prevailing trade policy knowledge, the author argues that this model captures an important and rarely recognised mechanism by which social movements generate change in the international economic system.

'Taking uncertainty seriously: adaptive governance, alien invasive species and the WTO' with Dr Rosie Cooney, (2007) (2007) 18(3) European Journal of International Law 523-551.

The problem of uncertainty presents a major challenge for institutions of international governance. In this article we draw lessons from a variety of literatures, including ecology and environmental management, for understanding and responding to uncertainty. From them we derive a model of ‘adaptive governance’ as a way to respond to the extensive and pervasive uncertainty confronting decision-makers in international institutions. Adaptive governance accepts and responds to uncertainty through promoting learning, avoiding irreversible interventions and impacts, encouraging constant monitoring of outcomes, facilitating broad participation in policy-making processes, encouraging transparency, and reflexively highlighting the limitations of the knowledge on which policy choices are based. Here we assess the World Trade Organization as an institution of adaptive governance, taking for our focus the WTO’s treatment of national measures to counter the spread of invasive alien species, an arena in which particularly challenging and persistent uncertainties are faced. We find that while some aspects of the WTO’s operation already fit within an adaptive governance model, in other important respects the WTO fails to encourage (and sometimes inhibits) effective policy responses to persistent uncertainty.

'Reflecting on Linkage: Cognitive and Institutional Change in the International Trading System' (2007) 70(4) Modern Law Review pp.523-550; [reprinted in Steger, Debra P, The World Trade Organization: Critical Perspectives on the World Economy (London: Routledge 2014) pp.523-549]

Since the creation of the World Trade Organisation, the international trading system has lived through a decade of sustained and vocal public criticism. International trade lawyers have made significant e¡orts to engage, evaluate and respond to these critiques. This article assesses the adequacy of these responses, focussing on the so-called ‘trade and’ debate - or ‘trade linkage’ debate - in international trade law. While this debate has produced valuable insights, it tends to legitimate and reproduce precisely those aspects of the trade regime which it purports to contest. Drawing on the insights of economic history, an alternative mode of scholarship is proposed - at once historical, critical, constructivist and institutionalist - to augment the current literature in the ‘trade and’ debate. Concrete lines of enquiry are proposed which, if followed, would help international trade lawyers to respond more productively and with greater legitimacy to contemporary public critiques of the international trading order.

'Rethinking Trade and Human Rights' (2007) (2007) 15(2) Tulane Journal of International and Comparative Law 335-413.

'Cross-Border Supply of Gambling Services' (Casenote) (2006) 65 (1) Cambridge Law Journal 21.

'Reconstructing embedded liberalism: John Gerard Ruggie and constructivist approaches to the study of the international trade regime' (2006) 9 (1) Journal of International Economic Law 81-116. [REPRINTED in Ruggie (ed), Embedding Global Markets (Ashgate, 2008)]

In 1982, John Gerard Ruggie published a study of the postwar international trade and monetary regimes in which he introduced the concept of 'embedded liberalism'. A large and growing number of international trade scholars are finding Ruggie's concept of embedded liberalism an appealing one, and it now occupies a significant place on our conceptual horizon. In this article, the author returns to Ruggie's original article to excavate lessons which are peculiarly relevant for current trade law scholarship. He argues that Ruggie's account of embedded liberalism usefully serves to destabilize common assumptions about the objectives and normative underpinnings of the trade regime and thereby to expand our conceptions of what a liberal trade regime might plausibly look like. On the other hand, he explains why he does not share the enthusiasm of those who see in embedded liberalism an attractive normative vision to guide WTO reform. In addition, and most importantly, the author draws attention to the constructivist theoretical framework of Ruggie's piece. He suggests that Ruggie's article provides a useful introduction to the central elements of constructivist thinking about international institutions and shows how attention to constructivist insights has the potential to significantly enrich and expand our understanding of the trade regime and of trade law.

'Beyond formal obligations: the trade regime and the making of political priorities' (2005) 18:3 Leiden Journal of International Law 403-424.

The World Trade Organization is often criticized for requiring its members to adopt policies which can detrimentally affect poor and vulnerable groups. Close analysis of the relevant provisions of WTO law, however, often reveals international trade obligations to be significantly more flexible than is commonly suggested. The author argues, however, that, on its own, detailed formal analysis of trade law paints an incomplete picture. Trade law also influences political choices by framing debates about trade policy – determining the arguments which can be made, who can make them, and in what forums they can be presented. The author illustrates this argument through a focused analysis of one controversy relating to the trade regime, namely the ‘GATS and water’ debate, and in particular the question of whether the General Agreement on Trade in Services may require the ‘privatization’ of water infrastructures. 

'GATS and regulatory autonomy: a case study of social regulation of the water industry' (2004) 7(4) Journal of International Economic Law 801-838, updated and reprinted in Langford and Russell (eds) The Right to Water: Theory, Practice and Prospects (CUP, forthcoming 2011).

In June 2002, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report entitled 'Liberalization of trade in services and human rights'. In this article, the author examines one of the concerns voiced in that report, that the GATS potentially affects the ability of governments to regulate the water industry in the pursuit of social objectives. This claim has been disputed by a number of other commentators. Taking both the claim and its critics on their own terms, he applies GATS non-discrimination articles to typical water sector regulation, to determine whether, and in what circumstances, such regulation potentially violates those provisions. He argues that one should view with some skepticism strong claims that the GATS does not restrict social regulation of the water sector, as they are often based on unjustifiably robust interpretations of the protective provisions of the GATS. At the same time, he identifies a number of promising argumentative strategies of potential use for those interested in protecting domestic regulatory autonomy in the water sector.