Global Lawmakers: International Organizations in the Crafting of World Markets

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Melbourne Law School 185 Pelham St, Carlton Level 2, Room 221


Terence Halliday presents a seminar on his new book 'Global Lawmakers: International Organizations in the Crafting of World Markets'


Global lawmaking by international organizations holds the potential for enormous influence over world trade and national economies. Its impact reaches to state lawmaking and commercial behavior, whether of giant multi-national corporations or micro, small and medium-sized businesses. Who makes that law and who benefits affects all states and all market players. In Global Lawmakers (Cambridge University Press 2017), Susan Block-Lieb and Terence Halliday  offer the first extensive empirical study of commercial lawmaking within the United Nations. Based principally on an ethnography of global lawmaking over many years, the book shows who makes law for the world, how they make it, and who comes out ahead. Block-Lieb and Halliday investigated intensively three episodes of lawmaking between the late 1990s and 2012: transport of goods by sea, corporate bankruptcy and restructuring, and secured transactions as a stimulus for bank lending.

The book examines the critical early steps of agenda-setting, undertakes a quantitative analysis of attendance by delegates and delegations in order to discover what actors exert most influence on UNCITRAL’s products, and demonstrates how informal processes and the manipulation of time were invented to cope with problematic formal strictures of UN deliberative constraints. The authors present a political analysis of global scripts, demonstrating how the black-letter form of hard and soft law technologies both reflects and anticipates the politics of implementation. Through its original socio-legal orientation, it reveals struggles inside UNCITRAL and unveils the hitherto invisible dynamics of competition, cooperation and competitive cooperation among international organizations, including the UN, World Bank, IMF and UNIDROIT.

Global Lawmakers proposes an original theory of international organizations that seek to construct transnational legal orders within social ecologies of lawmaking. The book concludes with an appraisal of creative global governance by the UN in international commerce over the past fifty years and examines prospective challenges for the twenty-first century.


Terence Halliday is Research Professor and Co-Director, Center on Law and Globalization, American Bar Foundation; Honorary Professor, School of Regulation and Global Governance, Australian National University; and Adjunct Professor of Sociology, Northwestern University.