New Workshop on PIL as Global Governance at Sciences Po


Horatia Muir Watt and Diego Fernandez Arroyo are establishing a workshop on « Private International Law as Global Governance » at the Law School of the Paris Institute of Political Science (Sciences Po). The group will meet regularly over the year ; the first meeting is on October 21st.

Private International Law as Global Governance : from Closet to Planet

Despite the contemporary turn to law within the global governance debate, private international law remains remarkably silent before the increasingly unequal distribution of wealth and power in the world. By leaving such matters to its public international counterpart, it leaves largely untended the private causes of crisis and injustice affecting such areas as financial markets, levels of environmental pollution, the status of sovereign debt, the confiscation of natural resources, the use and misuse of development aid, the plight of migrating populations, and many more. This impotency to rise to the private challenges of economic globalisation, is all the more curious that public international law itself, on the tide of managerialism and fragmentation, is now increasingly confronted with conflicts articulated as collisions of jurisdiction and applicable law, among which private or hybrid authorities and regimes now occupy a significant place. The explanation seems to lie in the development, under the aegis of the liberal separation of law and politics and of the public and the private spheres, of an « epistemology of the closet », a refusal to see that to unleash powerful private interests in the name of individual autonomy and to allow them to accede to market authority was to construct the legal foundations of informal empire and establish gaping holes in global governance. It is now more than time to de-closet private international law and excavate the means with which, in its own right, it may impact on the balance of informal power in the global economy. Adopting a planetary perspective means reaching beyond the schism and connecting up with the politics of public international law, while contributing its own specific savoir-faire acquired over many centuries in the recognition of alterity and the responsible management of pluralism.

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