Toward a Comparative Analysis of Institutions for International Economic Integration

Northwestern Journal of International Law & Business, Dec 1997

This issue is devoted to the publication of papers presented at the 1996 annual conference of the International Economic Law Group of the American Society of International Law. This conference presented an opportunity for scholars from different countries and backgrounds, with expertise in different types of international eco- nomic integration, to assemble and compare notes. The articles in this issue represent the results of their research and discussion.

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Toward a Comparative Analysis of Institutions for International Economic Integration

Northwestern Journal of International Law & Business Toward a Comparative Analysis of Institutions for International Economic Integration Joel P. Trachtman 0 0 This Article is brought to you for free and open access by Northwestern University School of Law Scholarly Commons. It has been accepted for inclusion in Northwestern Journal of International Law & Business by an authorized administrator of Northwestern University School of Law Scholarly Commons Toward Comparative Analysis of Institutions for International Economic Integration Joel P. Trachtman Chair, International Economic Law Interest Group American Society of International Law This issue is devoted to the publication of papers presented at the 1996 annual conference of the International Economic Law Group of the American Society of International Law. This conference presented an opportunity for scholars from different countries and backgrounds, with expertise in different types of international economic integration, to assemble and compare notes. The articles in this issue represent the results of their research and discussion. This project requires justification, even defense. What would be the value of comparing institutions, for example, from the European Union to those of the North American Free Trade Agreement or the World Trade Organization? Are these entities comparable on any dimension? Do the tremendous differences in the goals of these entities, combined with the tremendous differences in their composition, structure and legal culture, make folly of any attempted comparison? In his keynote address at the conference, Joseph Weiler warned of the dangers of false cognates in comparative study, but also sugNorthwestern Journal of International Law & Business 17:351 (1996-97) gested the value of comparison. He did so by analogizing comparative study to the way in which a child may learn from his or her parents. Children may learn from the mistakes of their parents, and as they mature, they may learn that their goals are not so different from those of their parents. In considering the European Union as a model, we should not be intimidated by its success. NAFTA, MERCOSUR, APEC and others will be measured by their own goals, in their own context. Of course, the goals of these entities may change as they mature. A related area of discussion at the conference addressed the comparability between constitutional federalism and international integration. Some participants felt these things wholly incomparable, while others felt that the difference was one of degree, rather than one of kind. In the former perspective, the domestic constitution is qualitatively different, with far deeper communitarian potential. In the latter perspective, the U.S. Constitution (for example) has no mythical quality, but is simply the product of long experience, debate and nationbuilding, and reflects a much denser social contract than any extant examples of international integration. Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann pointed out that the "constitutional" principles of the European Union are based on domestic constitutionalism. On the other hand, the mythicization of the domestic constitution seems to be an outgrowth of a romantic mythicization of the state. Weiler provided a concise and salient intellectual history of integration studies relating to Europe. This intellectual history was chastening for the other participants in the conference, as was Weiler's reminder to consider the facts of integration, in addition to the perception of integration and its place in intellectual history. The main question asked at the conference was what is the relationship between legal institutions and integration goals? In a sense, this is a trick question, as there are no agreed integration goals: each person and each state enters society to maximize their individual goals. Institutions are created to facilitate the achievement of each participant's national goals. Symposium Introduction 17 : 351 ( 1996 -97)


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Joel P. Trachtman. Toward a Comparative Analysis of Institutions for International Economic Integration, Northwestern Journal of International Law & Business, 1997,