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Global social justice at the WTO? The role of NGOs in constructing global social contracts

journal contribution
posted on 01.01.2007, 00:00 authored by Baogang HeBaogang He, H Murphy
Over the past decade, international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been contesting the neo-liberal economic order in international politics by campaigning for normative conditions to bring about what Richard Falk calls 'humane governance'. However, the degree to which NGOs have contributed to the formation of global social contracts remains controversial. While NGO activists and various scholars advocate the establishment of such contracts, empirical testing of this normative argument is underdeveloped. Drawing upon this lack of empirical support, critics dismiss the global social contract concept and question the roles played by NGOs in international politics. This article addresses the controversy through a review, refinement and application of global social contract theory and an empirical study of two prominent international NGO campaigns directed at the World Trade Organization (WTO), an institution that represents a 'hard test case'. It explores the ways in which NGOs and their networks are challenging the neo-liberal basis of WTO agreements and contributing to the emergence of global social contracts. The article concludes that in some circumstances, NGOs have the capacity to inject social justice into international economic contracts and there is some basis for optimism regarding the formation of global social contracts involving NGOs, nation-states and international organizations.

History

Journal

International affairs

Volume

83

Issue

4

Pagination

707 - 727

Publisher

Wiley Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Location

Oxford, England

ISSN

0020-5850

eISSN

1468-2346

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2007, Baogang He, Hannah Murphy