Challenging Expert Rule: The Politics of Global Governance
CitationDavid W. Kennedy, Challenging Expert Rule: The Politics of Global Governance, 27 Sydney L. Rev. 5 (2005).
AbstractIn my Julius Stone Memorial Address, I explored the hypothesis that everyday decisions made by the professionals who manage norms and institutions which seem to lie in the background of global politics may be more important to global wealth and poverty than what we customarily think of as the big political and economic decisions made by parliaments and presidents or brought about by war and peace. If you have the energy to protest, criticise and change the distribution of wealth and status in our newly globalised world, it can be hard to locate points at which allocative decisions can be politically contested. The urgent political disputes that become international front-page news can seem peripheral to the decisions responsible for the distribution of things in the world. Although meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or the G–7 (Group of Seven) provide useful backdrops for street protest and media attention, it is not clear that the decisions being taken inside those meeting rooms are either meaningfully responsible for global distributions of wealth and power or contestable in conventional political terms. Although it is easy to think of international affairs as a rolling sea of politics over which we have managed to throw but a thin net of legal rules, in truth the situation today is more the reverse. There is law at every turn — and only the most marginal opportunities for engaged political contestation. The footprint of national rules and national adjudication extends far beyond their nominal territorial jurisdiction. Private ordering, standards bodies, financial institutions and payment systems, tax systems, trade regimes — all are managed by legal expertise. Indeed, to say the world is covered in law is also to say we are increasingly governed by experts — legal experts. Even the story of the war in Iraq is overwhelmingly one of law, of military force mobilised, coordinated and legitimated by law. The difficulty is to understand more adequately what these experts do, the nature and limits of their vocabulary, and the possibilities for translating their work into politically contestable terms — or promoting the experience of responsible human freedom among the experts who govern our world.
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