About the seminar

The completion of the Uruguay Round in 1994 and the establishment of the WTO seemed to mark the achievement of normal trade law, both in the sense of normalizing regulation of international trade relations by legal norms and institutions and in the sense of a normal content of trade law involving significant international convergence rather than sovereign diversity. Both of these senses of normal trade law now are strained. The stalemate at the WTO, the turn to preferential agreements, and the return of belligerent unilateralism and “dealing” notably in economic relations between the United States and China, all suggest the need to interrogate again the legal context in which global trade and investment is embedded. Likewise, the characterization of an expanding domain of trade as involving national security normalizes exceptions rather than generating legal disciplines.

Going forward, trade law will likely emphasize less convergent substantive concepts such as exceptions, differential treatment, interface and variable geometry. But normal trade law will also involve a return to a more open role for international politics (including negotiation, threats and conflict), as well as a normal role for law better understood through the frames of transnational law and legal pluralism. The normal role of international law in such an order may need to change, including to self-consciously evolve its strategies of inter-legality.

If you would like to read the paper on which this presentation is based, it is available here. This event is a collaboration between the Institute for International Law and the Humanities, the Asian Law Centre and the Global Economic Law Network.

About the presenter

Robert Wai has been a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto, since 1998, where he has also served in a number of administrative positions including associate dean. He teaches various subjects of economic law including international trade regulation and international business transactions, and his current research explores the plural character of international economic law and the distinctive governance techniques of transnational private law.

He completed his MPhil in international relations at Oxford and his SJD focusing on private international law at Harvard Law School. He has visited at a number of universities including Brown University, LSE and Sciences Po Law School. During the current academic year, he has been a Braudel Senior Visiting Fellow at the European University Institute, the Mawhinney Lecturer in Professional Ethics at the University of British Columbia, and a visiting professor teaching International Economic Law at the University of Hong Kong.

Event details

Friday 3 May 2019 | Melbourne Law School | Room 920 Level 9
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm | 185 Pelham Street, Carlton VIC 3053
with an extended discussion for those who wish to stay until 2.30 pm

Register to attend