NEW VOICES AND NEW PERSPECTIVES IN INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC LAW

Vol. 32 No. 8 (October 2021) pp. 130-132

NEW VOICES AND NEW PERSPECTIVES IN INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC LAW by J. D. Haskell and A. Rasulov (eds.). Switzerland, Springer International Publishing, 2020, £99.99, ISBN 978-3-030-32511-4

Reviewed by Charles Ho Wang Mak, PhD Candidate in International Law, School of Law, University of Glasgow. Email: HoWang.Mak@glasgow.ac.uk.

As one of the most well-established and dynamic academic disciplines, International Economic Law (“IEL”) has influenced the development and formation of public international law. Over the past few decades, there has been a steady increase in scholarship interested in IEL. However, there are considerable gaps in international economic legal literature. There are few books that explore the IEL from new perspectives (i.e. a new explanation to IEL’s systemic nature and the contemporary development in IEL that are different from prior understandings). As such, one of the most pressing tasks for the contemporary development of IEL is to re-examine the established narratives on IEL and its history. The EUROPEAN YEARBOOK OF INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC LAW book series, plugs in the gaps in the existing IEL literature. These series of books addresses a variety of issues in IEL, ranging from international investment law to international trade law. The primary purpose of this book series is to encourage a broader interest in contemporary IEL, heightening the awareness of the “new” discipline. NEW VOICES AND NEW PERSPECTIVES IN INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC LAW is a timely and essential contribution to the growing literature of IEL.

This impressive book is co-edited by Akbar Rasulov, professor at the University of Glasgow School of law and John D. Haskell, a senior lecturer at the University of Manchester School of Law. Both are leading figures in the field of international law. The book is a collection of nine essays written by eleven contributing authors in the area of IEL, including Michael Fakhri, Ntina Tzouvala, and Maria Tzanakopoulou. Instead of a collection of random essays, this book is a collection of essentially linked chapters centred around the new perspective in IEL. In the introductory chapter, Akbar Rasulov offers the necessary background information connecting those essays in the book, to assist readers in understanding “the underlying objectives and theoretical aspirations of the nine essays” (p. 12). He states that the essays included in the book “speak, with various degrees of directness, to both of these tendencies: the historical turn as well as the new programmatic-though project. Each of them, in a certain sense, can be understood as a product of both of these genres of inquiry” (p. 11). This book provides a ground-breaking approach and thought-provoking insights into subjects and topics in the area of IEL that have not attracted much attention before.

The primary purpose of the book, as described in its introductory chapter, is “an attempt to subvert the established disciplinary orthodoxy and the theoretical hierarchy of genres that underpins it” (p. 24). Further, it aims to “produce, by explicit theoretical argument as well as by practical illustration, an entirely different kind of internal theoretical balance, a new sense of intellectual mission […] for the discipline of IEL studies” (p. 24). I absolutely agree and would also like to add that this book will prove to be essential reading for IEL scholars and professionals alike, as well as benefiting policymakers who are looking for new insights into IEL, non-governmental origination and stakeholders in international economic governance.

The chapters in this book cover a broad range of topics regarding IEL, which is divided into six implicit, but perceptible sections. The first section of the book contains two chapters written by Ntina Tzouvala and Michael Fakhri, which aim to “contest and displace the traditional narratives adopted within the discipline about the historical origins of the contemporary IEL universe” (p. 24). In this section, Ntina Tzouvala discusses the contemporary IEL with a sharp focus on bilateral investment treaties and investor-state dispute settlement clauses. In addition, Michael Fakhri gives critical insights into the history of food security and agriculture in international trade law. Food security is regarded as one of the IEL issues related to global economic governance that received less attention when compared with other topics within the area of IEL. Hence, this book gives its readers a chance to broaden their scopes beyond the usual topics in IEL discussions. Essays in the second part of the book focus specifically on the politics of IEL, addressing challenges to traditional narratives. In the chapter written by Athene Richford, the question of the authority of language in international law is addressed This chapter deals with one of the most alternative theoretical agendas and perspectives in IEL scholarship—language theory, which is demonstrative of the book’s innovative approach to the existing narratives of IEL. Additionally, Nicol├ís M. Perrone focuses on foreign investment governance, which suggests that local expectations to the global investment regime should be taken seriously for successful reform in the future.

The third part of the book is written by Mavluda Sattorova, Mustafa Erkan and Ohiocheoya Omiunu assess the host states’ responses to investment treaty law through empirical observations. Even though empirical legal studies are considered relatively traditional, this part of the book has adopted a new approach to this topic, which has examined the subject matters “through the prism of micro-level legal sociology” (p. 26). The fourth part of the book explores one of the most under-theorized IEL topics- the interrelationship between sovereign debt restructuring and human rights. For example, in this section, Alexandre Belle provides a comprehensive analysis of MAMATAS AND OTHERS V. GREECE (2016) and illustrates how the European Court of Human Rights could change the current dynamic of sovereign debt restructuring. In the fifth part of the book, the co-editor, John D. Haskell re-examines the European and global political economy under the context of international law. In the last part of the book, Maria Tzanakopoulou offers “a different take on the theme of IEL’s interpellative power” by examining the constitutive powers of the European Monetary Union (“EMU”) (p. 28). In this part, Tzanakopoulou examines the constitutive powers of the EMU “from the standpoint of its capacity to bring into existence an entirely novel category of political collectivity: the ‘European people’ of a distinctly Frankfurter vintage” (p. 28). Together, these essays create a ground-breaking narrative about the new perspectives of IEL and its history. This book allows its readers to think about IEL from new perspectives and different theoretical agendas.

In conclusion, this book might exceed its objectives. Essentially, it addresses the subject matters related to the area of IEL. It also provides new perspectives in other academic disciplines like international relations, international political economy, and international history. This book is broad and deep enough to appeal to both general readers and specialists to IEL. It provides profound and thorough discussions and analyses of different subjects of IEL. In particular, this book raises the attention of the IEL scholars to those subject matters that have not been given much attention, such as the impact of the judgments issued by the European Court of Human Rights on the current dynamics of sovereign debt restructuring. The edited volume also provides astute proposals to reform the current international investment regime. The compilation presents the IEL as a vibrant academic discipline that requires new perspectives and angles.

I have no hesitation in recommending this well-written book. This book has provided one of the missing pieces of legal scholarship, which fills the research gap on the research into IEL. Therefore, I believe that this book, as well as the book series, will continue serving as useful references and leading sources for those who are interested in IEL, international law, international relations, international political economy, and history.

CASES:

MAMATAS AND OTHERS V. GREECE (2016). European Court of Human Rights 63066/14.


© Copyright 2021 by author, Charles Ho Wang Mak.