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spacer "Global Trade Ethics and the Politics of WTO Reform"

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Organizers: Sophie Meunier (Princeton University) and Kalypso Nicolaïdis (Oxford University)

The workshop is organized under the umbrella of the Oxford-Princeton Partnership, the project on “Global Trade Ethics” located in Oxford and sponsored by the German Marshall Fund, and the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at Princeton University.

The aim of the workshop is to link normative debates in political theory with more concrete institutional and policy discussions on the future of the global trading system --in all its multilateral, regional and bilateral incarnations. In particular, this workshop will address the question of the legitimacy of the global trading system both through the lens of institutional reform and through the lens of political ethics. One of the premise of the workshop will be to ask to what extent and how the two are connected.

Indeed, while the Doha Round has put considerable strain on the governance of the trade system, it has also helped highlight what is wrong with it. In particular, and whatever happens at the end of the Round, the challenge of the WTO to reflect the twin agenda of global justice/equity and sustainability. For now, proposals for reform bear the strong imprint of the EU or the US, the two trade hegemons, whose roles and positions in the politics of WTO reform sometimes converge, often diverge.

This workshop will operate at two levels: a) broad normative debates on trade issues; 2) critical examination of the discourses and actions of the EU and US relative to the reform of the multilateral trading system, using normative frameworks as a backdrop. Questions addressed in the workshop will include: What should be the guiding norms for shaping global trade reforms, and how can these norms be operationalized? What are the general contours of a global ethics for trade? On the politics side, what is the impact of domestic institutions, and especially electoral politics, on a country's position on WTO reform? Who gets to decide which trade-related issues get into the WTO and which stay out? How are the EU and the US using trade as instruments of foreign policy and what does this imply in terms of global justice? Which countries are empowered, or disabled, by the proposed reforms? To what extent do different institutional and policy proposals perpetuate current political power structures? Participants will of course amend and expand this list.


Draft Schedule

Directions to Palmer House

Map of Palmer House

Background Paper: Democracy without Sovereignty: The Global Vocation of Political Ethics

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