The Glasgow Conversations in International Law Series will be holding the workshop “World Trade Law and Human Rights after Neoliberalism: The Evolution of the Structures of Knowledge” on November 29, 2011, 3:00 – 6:00 pm in the  Gilbert Scott Suite 355 at the University of Glasgow.

The speakers and presenters include Andrew Lang (LSE), IGLP affiliate Chantal Thomas (Cornell), Paavo Kotiaho (Helsinki), Grietje Baars (City University, London), Robert Knox (LSE), Christian Tams (Glasgow), Emilios Christodoulidis (Glasgow), and Akbar Rasulov (Glasgow).

As the historical tide of neoliberalism swept through the international arena in the early 1990s, the structural relationship between the law of international trade and the international law of human rights increasingly came to be viewed as one of the main ideological battlegrounds in which the fight for the soul of the “new world order” was meant to take place. Where the international trade regime was commonly seen to give the institutional flesh to the abstract ideology of free-market globalisation, the international human rights regime came to be regarded as the practical embodiment of the idea of a systematic commitment to the principles of distributive fairness and the ideals of social justice. How one chose to interpret the systemic linkages between the two regimes, thus, would have to be understood, in effect, as the direct representation of one’s political identity and ideological attitudes. Or at least that is what the conventional wisdom suggested had to be the case. Many international lawyers over the years have come to accept this vision as part of their professional self-image. Many global justice activists went on to enact it as part of their professional life-projects. But just how accurate was the basic assumption that underpinned it, ultimately?

The starting premise behind this year’s Glasgow Conversations workshop comes from the twofold assumption that the study of the general trajectory of the “neoliberal turn” in modern international law holds the keys not only to the immediate logic of the structural relationship between the two main constitutional regimes of the contemporary international legal system but also to the broader questions of critical legal practice and forms of international legal knowledge. What was the impact of the rise of the neoliberal tradition on the development of the international legal project? How did this process unfold and what was the causal “mechanics” behind it? How was it misunderstood and misrepresented within the internal discursive space of the international law profession and what role did the politics of the international legal project itself play in this misrepresentation? These and other similar questions will form the main theme of this year’s instalment in the Glasgow Conversations in International Law series.

For further enquiries and registration, email akbar.rasulov@glasgow.ac.uk.