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Towards a Grand Unified Theory of International Economic Law

Collins, D. A. (2015). Towards a Grand Unified Theory of International Economic Law. Manchester Journal of International Economic Law, 12(2), pp. 140-166.


This article presents chaos, a theory drawn from the physical sciences, as an explanatory model for international economic law which for the purposes of this study will be taken to consist of the law of the WTO, international investment law, and the policies of the IMF and World Bank. The rules promulgated by these institutions as the central pillars of global economic governance are both indeterminate and susceptible to external influences, leading to unpredictable outcomes in the longer term, even if they appear deterministic on the small scale as applied to individual states or firms in particular instances. This article will attempt to illustrate that the observed chaotic nature of international economic law should be viewed as a benevolent feature of the system, as its inescapable unpredictability engenders flexibility and adaptability. These are traits which are valuable for both governments and firms seeking to prosper within the dynamic global economy. The utility of international economic law should therefore not be judged by its capacity to achieve predictable outcomes in the form of macroeconomic benchmarks. The article concludes by suggesting that the shared, advantageous characteristic of chaos may be seen as means of conceptually unifying the four disciplines of international economic law.

Publication Type: Article
Subjects: K Law
Departments: The City Law School
The City Law School > International Law and Affairs Group
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