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World Trade Law after Neoliberalism: reimagining the global economic order

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Andrew Lang
Oxford University Press (September 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.

  • Andrew Lang is a senior lecturer in law at LSE.

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'This book laudably challenges the comfortable story the WTO likes to hear about itself.'
Professor JHH Weiler, NYU School of Law

'A path-breaking study which no-one interested in world trade and global justice can afford to ignore. Lang's new history of the 'neoliberal turn' in international trade law has far-reaching implications for how we reorient trade for the benefit of humanity as a whole. If 'trade linkage' ('trade and human rights', etc.) has been the dominant approach, he shows that our real challenge is to renew the simple - but, in the WTO, largely discredited - idea that trade governance implicates not just private interests, but collective purposes as well. This is a marvellous book, written with unpretentious grace and pellucid clarity.'
Susan Marks, Professor of International Law, LSE

'World Trade Law After Neoliberalism is an imaginative and wide-ranging reassessment of the foundations and the prospects of the world trading system. The author, a fine legal scholar with an excellent grasp of the social science of international institutions, places the achievements of WTO law and jurisprudence in a broad perspective, informed by many of the tumultuous political and economic events of recent times. With the collapse of the WTO Doha negotiations imminent, this book is must-reading for anyone seeking to understand what has happened and where we go from here.'
Robert Howse, Lloyd C. Nelson Professor of International Law, NYU School of Law

World Trade Law after Neoliberalism