Warwick/Coventry, United Kingdom

Transnational Governance, International Law, and Global Capitalism

when 16 July 2023 - 5 August 2023
language English
duration 3 weeks
credits 7.5 EC
fee GBP 2150

International economic law has entered the mainstream. Politicians debate the intricacies of free trade agreements, newspapers run stories about investor protection mechanisms, and popular movements use collective action to undermine intellectual property provisions.
Yet, despite breaking into the mainstream, popular knowledge on the subject remains sparse at best. This is due in large part to the representation of international economic law in both political rhetoric and popular media: much is said about the technical aspects of the field and emphasis placed on our collective preoccupation with economic growth. Economic considerations, however, cannot be separated from social functions that go beyond the production and exchange of goods. Developing a deeper understanding of the socio-legal character of international economic law will provide students with greater awareness of the political capacities and opportunities available to citizens.

Four topics are central to our examination of international economic law. As is to be expected, we will begin with the basics of global political economy: without an understanding of capitalism or the forces that propelled its transnationalisation, international economic law will remain a mystery. Next, we will consider foundations of international law—how the global framework is ‘regulated’—followed by foundations of international economic law—regulation of the global economic framework. Our third section is dedicated to intricacies of international economic law including trade and the WTO, investment, and labour while the final one will target normative aspects including the place of justice, fairness, and equality in the global economy.

Course leader

Dr Mohsen Al Attar, Associate Professor, School of Law, University of Warwick

Target group

There are no prerequisites for this course. This course is open to students studying any discipline at University level. We welcome individuals from all backgrounds, including students who are currently studying another subject but who want to broaden their knowledge in another discipline. Students should also meet our standard entry requirements and must be aged 18 or over by the time the Summer School commences and have a good understanding of the English language.

Course aim

This course is designed to help students understand the invisibilizing and normalisation of unequal and asymmetrical economic and political relations in global capitalism (e.g. between the capitalist States and neo-colonial states, and between the economic interest of multinational corporations and States obligations to protect international human rights). In this context you will appreciate why developed States seek the expansion of global governance to regulate the behaviour of developing States, through hegemonic means such as opening their economies to foreign investment and international trade. To put it another way: why is there an FTA between the US and a group of smaller developing economies in Central America (CAFTA-DR) but not one between the US and the UK even though these nations have a ‘special relationship’?

As the course progresses, you will recognise the role that the primary actors in global governance—transnational corporations and capitalist states—play in the establishment of global institutions that alter social orders (political, economic and legal). Lawyers believe that because justice is portrayed as blind, the law is neutral in its drafting and application. The opposite is true. It conceals the political, economic, and social interests of the major global governance actors behind its neutral façade. Do the WTO's non-discrimination, trade liberalisation, and competitive advantage principles benefit least-developed countries? If so, why, and to what extent? Why, if foreign direct investment advances technological development, do international treaties expressly prohibit host countries from demanding technological transfers? Once you realise that the law is not neutral, you will wonder what role it plays in maintaining the status quo. This is the type of problems we will analyse in the context of the global economy, i.e., global capitalism.

The course does not aim to portray a world in which nothing works and everything is wrong. That the global economic system has alleviated poverty in several parts of the world cannot (and should not be denied). But is that the main goal of global capitalism? Or alleviating poverty is a by-product of wealth concentration? If so, what are the real alternatives to position social goals (human rights, the environment and sustainable development) at the forefront of the global socioeconomic agenda?

To accomplish these aims, students will actively engage in analysis and debate about:

• Global governance arrangements such as the UN (including the GA and SC), the ASEAN, the African Union, the European Union, G20, Mercosur, and others;

• Global trading arrangements and institutions (GATT, WTO, and free trade agreements);

• Global financing arrangements and institutions (IMF, World Bank, and the ICSID);

• The violence of global capitalism and its impact on human wellbeing, the environment, and the future; and

• Global policy making institutions and organisations, including the UNCTAD, UNCITRAL, NATO, Davos, and NGOs.

Credits info

7.5 EC
You must check with the relevant office of your institution if you will be awarded credit, but many institutions will allow this. In general, you’ll earn 3-4 credits in the US system, and 7.5 ECTS in the European system. Warwick will provide any necessary supporting evidence to help evaluate the worth of the course.

Fee info

GBP 2150: Student Rate - Tuition fee applies to any student enrolled at a University or College anywhere in the world (includes the social programme and guest lecture series)
GBP 2950: Standard rate - Tuition fee includes the social programme and guest lecture series.


We offer enhanced discounts for Warwick alumni, Offer Holders, Summer School Alumni and Students at partners institutions and group bookings of 10+ students