Between Justice and Law: Exploring Avenues and Obstacles to an International Obligation to Trade Fairly.
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This thesis is concerned with whether international law is capable of evolving to adequately address the adverse impact of international trade practices on the billions of people living in poverty in the world today. To this end, it explores international law’s capacity to integrate ethical obligations into international trade through the hypothetical construction of an ‘international obligation to trade fairly’. Obligations of fairness in international law are defined as necessitating the construction of an obligation to not restrict processes of democracy and distributive justice between individuals and the state. The application of this obligation on international trade is considered necessary in light of global economic interdependence, which has diminished the capacity of the state. An examination of the extent to which such a norm already exists is undertaken before considering the internal and external limitations to the universalization of such a norm. The central obstacles concerning the proposed obligation are identified as relating to the subject of the obligation and the normative force of the obligation. It is argued that due to the ideology and, inter-relatedly, the structure of international law, these obstacles cannot be readily overcome without radical reform.
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