The international economic order : a trigger for global justice and the right to development?

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Theses / Dissertations
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Doctor of Philosophy
University of Canterbury
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Suenu, Abdul Hasib

The international economic order is unfair. The global order continues to maintain values and practices that sustain the dominance of certain states, entities, and interests to the detriment of the fundamental freedoms and development needs of the vulnerable global population. It subordinates essential fundamental values, such as economic, social, and political rights; social justice; and sustainable development to a peripheral status, while mainstreaming the obdurate commitment to an unfettered liberalisation pursuit that mainly favours a privileged few. The institutions overseeing the international trade, finance and investment regimes still preserve the colonial legacies of power-imbalance, inequity, exploitation, and policies that safeguard the continual economic dependence of poorer countries on some affluent entities. Therefore, relying on legal evaluations, empirical findings, historical analyses, and political theories, this thesis argues that the inescapability of participating in the global system and its hurtful effects on the global less- fortunate trigger an obligation to reform the international economic and trade regimes.

In addressing this crisis, this thesis combines global distributive justice theory, the right to development, and the Third World critical approaches to international law in proposing five conceptual principles that could remedy these normative shortcomings. Furthermore, it normatively critiques the WTO Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM Agreement), particularly the prohibited export and local content subsidies, through the lenses of the conceptual principles that it proposes, as case study. It also relied on the infant industry economic theory in establishing the need to grant less-industrialised countries the policy space to implement strategies that may enhance their prioritised industrial development goals and other welfare objectives. It thereafter offers three proposals to improve the equitableness of the SCM Agreement. Specifically, this thesis proposes the creation of a special class of subsidy (named “Non-Actionable Developmental Subsidies”) to shield (or limit) the usage of certain development- justifiable subsidies from potential countervailing actions. Also, it explores how the theory of grundnorm can be adopted through a proposed “Development Supremacy Clause” with the view of prioritising the proposed human rights and development-centred principles in WTO Agreements. Finally, it offers some thoughts to improve the effectiveness and operationalisation of the Special and Differential Treatment provisions in WTO Agreements.

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