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KINT 4770 - Global Governance: Overcoming Fragmentation

Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Spring 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English

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Course Description

Should States use trade policies to encourage compliance with labor rights or environmental standards? Should they rely on public procurement to "buy social justice" through ethical sourcing? Should international investment law integrate human rights concerns? Should development cooperation be made conditional upon compliance with certain universally accepted standards of good governance or human rights? How do global development goals help unify different international regimes? These are some of the questions this new course will examine. The course will focus on the question of coexistence of different regimes in global governance -- including climate change, trade, investment, development cooperation and human rights. At present, each of these regimes is shaped in specific fora, with specific constellations of actors, rules, and dispute settlement mechanisms, and with specific sets of incentives (including, but not limited to, "sanctions" to ensure compliance). This results in what lawyers call the fragmentation of international law, or what political scientists refer to as sectorialized global governance. It also results in a mismatch between incentives (such as those resulting from specialization through trade, from the need to attract investment or from aid policies), on the one hand, and the objectives of human development, on the other hand. The course will review these different regimes, with a focus on whether, and how, each of these regimes is aligned with other regimes with which it coexists. It will reflect on the respective advantages and disadvantages of either the sectorialization of international policies (including the benefits of "depoliticization" that may result from trusting international bureaucracies with the management of certain global public goods), or instead, of the establishment of stronger linkages between regimes in order to improve the coherence of global governance. It will ask whether the different regimes that coexist in global governance involve a certain measure of success, or a "culture" shared across its participants, that facilitate, or instead discourage, such linkages. It will study whether such linkages may be established in the design of rules, in their implementation by governments, or in the settlement of disputes. It will examine the role of international agencies, national governments and of civil society organizations in building bridges between regimes. It will discuss initiatives that were taken to overcome fragmentation, such as reform within domestic governance systems, the rise of extraterritorial human rights obligations, the inclusion of conditionalities in Generalized Systems of Preferences (SGP) schemes and in public procurement under the WTO regime, or the establishment of the Committee on World Food Security to improve global governance of food security. The aim of the course is to gradually shape the contours of what might be called the "post-Washington" consensus. The Washington consensus that emerged in the 1980s followed the "embedded liberalism" of the new international economic order established immediately after World War II. It has lost much of its credibility since the 1990s. But a new and alternative order is emerging only at a slow pace, not least because we inherit institutions premised on the idea that a specialization of regimes is the best way to ensure the protection of global public goods and to discipline States. Can that change?


DE SCHUTTER, Olivier (Professor / United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food)

Pedagogical format

The course will include a mix of lectures (three initial weeks and the concluding session) and seminar-format discussions based on students' inputs (for the remainder of the course). Most of the discussions will take case studies as a departure point. We will not remain at the level of abstract and general debate.

Course validation

Class participation (30%) ; - Class presentations (40%) ; - Submission of a reform proposal (30%).


The students should be prepared to absord the readings and to work on a weekly basis, after the initial three weeks of the course.

Required reading

  • O. De Schutter, J. Swinnen and J. Wouters, 'Introduction: Foreign Direct Investment and Human Development', in O. De Schutter et al. (eds), Foreign Direct Investment and Human Development. The Law and Economics of International Investment Agreements, Routledge, London and New York, 2012, pp. 1-24
  • Olivier De Schutter, "Trade in the service of climate change mitigation: The question of linkage", Journal of Human Rights and the Environment, vol. 5 (2014), pp. 65-102
  • O. De Schutter, 'Transnational Corporations as Instruments of Human Development', in Ph. Alston and M. Robinson (eds.), Human Rights and Development : Towards Mutual Reinforcement, Oxford Univ. Press, 2005, pp. 403-444

Plans de cours et bibliographies