Legalise or not to Legalise International Trade: the Interactionalism Approach
Presenter: Abdulmalik Altamimi, PhD Candidate
A debate that had almost become perpetual since the beginning of international trade order in the 1947 under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and continues under the World Trade Organization (WTO) is the disagreement on the goal of trade sanctions. The debate is represented by three scholars: the legalist (John Jackson), anti-legalist (Alan Sykes), and quasi-legalist (Joost Pauwelyn) who respectively claim that trade sanctions are designed to only induce compliance, for compensation and ‘rebalancing of concessions’, or serve both remedies honouring the rules in adherence and/or breach. The debate continues with growing divide between the three scholars and bad repercussions on practice especially from the anti-legalists who advocate the application of the private contract theory of efficient breach to the WTO law. This presentation maintains that this debate has become impractical because it lacks the right analytical-framework to analyse the content and purpose of trade law. Inspired by the interactional international law theory ‘interactionalism’ of Jutta Brunnée and Stephen Toope who relayed and expanded on Lon L. Fuller ‘interactional legal theory’ this presentation will highlight how interactionalism’s unique concept of compliance is suitable to contain this debate and provide a comprehensive mechanism of assessment. The debaters on the trade sanctions’ goal (with the exception of Jackson who used an analysis similar to interactionalism’s) are not helping in explicating the contemporary practice or assessing the strengths and weaknesses of international trade law. Interactionalism will illustrate how is this the case, and what are the solutions.
This is a free seminar open to all and lunch will be available. If you are planning on attending please e-mail
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