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


He, B and Murphy, HL, Global social justice at the WTO? The role of NGOs in constructing global social contracts, International Affairs, 83, (4) pp. 707-727. ISSN 0020-5850 (2007) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1111/j.1468-2346.2007.00648.x


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.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Political science
Research Field:International relations
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:International relations
Objective Field:International relations not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Murphy, HL (Dr Hannah Murphy-Gregory)
ID Code:51073
Year Published:2007
Web of Science® Times Cited:18
Deposited By:Government
Deposited On:2007-08-01
Last Modified:2010-05-14
Downloads:4 View Download Statistics

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