March 17, 2010
International Institutional Performance in Crisis
Posted by David Zaring

About my favorite international law journal is the Chicago Journal of International law, which arrived yesterday stuffed with two symposia, one featuring the likes of Martha Nussbaum and Diane Wood, and the other Kenneth Dam, Anupam Chander, and, well, me.  Our symposium is on International Law and the Economic Crisis; I enjoy doing these sorts of pieces, and in this one, got a chance to critique something that I ordinarily champion: informal international institutions, which, along with the formal ones, I thought had little to say about the financial crisis.  Emergency management options these institutions, I think we have learned, are not.

Here's the abstract; you can download the article here, and do let me know if you have any thoughts on the matter:

The global financial crisis was a challenge to three of the most promising, and seemingly effective, institutions of international law—the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the international network of regulatory agencies—and it was a challenge they failed to meet. This Article reviews the performance of these three institutions in the aftermath of the financial shocks of 2007–08 and finds that they had little to say in response. Those responses that were forthcoming were either ineffective or counterproductive, and only the IMF has emerged from the crisis with its potential burnished. The record appears to vindicate the critics of these international institutions and illustrate the primacy of politics in international crisis response. That primacy has been exemplified by the importance of the G20 in coordinating an international response to the crisis. The G20 is neither law-based nor governance-focused, but can best be characterized as a modern-day Concert of Europe, which appears to be quite unconstrained by law, and is not a regulatory network.

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