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The Global Paradigm: A Dangerous Method?

SW1.17 Somerset House East Wing
10/02/2015 (15:00-17:00)
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Speaker: Professor Horatia Muir Watt, Ecole de droit, Sciences Po

The emergence of a ‘global paradigm’ challenges traditional ideas about what we perceive law to be, how it emerged as such, and how it actually works to structure or co-produce the world we live in. Its link to the other pillars of modernity (state, rationality, science) are called into question, at the same time as its foundations, its ‘internal’ perspective, and the research methodology we use to apprehend it. As efforts to apprehend social, political, cultural and economic phenomena beyond the state, international legal disciplines have long had a more contested existence than domestic legal systems and indeed continue to be disqualified as being more aspirational than enforceable. While less of a focal point in this respect than its public counterpart, private international law – the focus here – illustrates this ambivalent status. As such, however, it has also been all the more powerful as a vector of ideas about legal order which have, arguably, been essential in building those structures of  ‘informal empire’ that have led ultimately to the transformations of modern state-law.  It is certainly easier at this stage to identify how its categories and tools have been facilitative of private global ordering than to work out the ways in which, today, they fit within the wider global disorder that is taking form beyond the state. It is to this inquiry to which today’s reflection is directed; it requires a methodology which is ‘dangerous’ in that it must uncover and destabilize. Examples including financial markets, sovereign debt crisis, global supply chains, or arbitration of foreign investment disputes all indicate that a complex combination of public and private, soft and hard, national and international,  global and local, cultural and scientific, formal and informal law-making interact to produce our normative environment. 

Horatia Muir Watt is Co-Director of the program ‘Global Governance Studies’ (which covers private international law, arbitration and litigation, human rights) within the Master’s Degree in Economic Law at Sciences Po.

Horatia received a PhD in private international law from the University of Panthéon-Assas Paris 2 in 1985 and passed the agrégation examination in private law in 1986 (ranked second). She taught at the University of Tours, at the University of Paris XI, and at the University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne between 1996 and 2009 and was appointed to Sciences Po in 2009, when she participated actively in the creation of the law school.

Horatia is Editor-in-chief of the Revue critique de droit international privé (the leading French-language journal on private international law) and a member of the publication committees of numerous other legal journals, among which the Journal of Private International Law, European Review of Contract Law and Transnational Legal Theory.

She founded the PILAGG (private international law and global governance) research group, now run with the LSE. 

This event is part of the Transnational Law Colloquium series.  The Transnational Law Colloquium, launched in January 2015, is a public seminar at King’s College London with a focus on pressing issues in transnational regulation and governance. In its first year, the Transnational Law Colloquium will host internationally renowned experts from theory and practice to explore topics in financial and environmental governance, counter-terrorism, transnational business organization and private international law. 

Those who register will be emailed a copy of the introduction and conclusion to Private International Law and Global Governance (OUP, 2014) to read in advance.

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