Globalization: Panacea for the World or Conquistador of International Law and Statehood?


Recent powerful occurrences have led to an unprecedented world wide move in the direction of globalization. Globalization involves eliminating trade barriers, exchanging products and services across national borders, and the emergence of truly global corporations. Governments have embraced globalization in hopes of building stronger economies, creating jobs, and providing increased services and products. Debate has centered on the effect of globalization on sovereignty and the effect on individuals. However, the effect of globalization on international law has been largely ignored.

Today, international law—in the form of free trade agreements—enables the globalization process to occur faster than ever before. This article analyzes globalization and its possible effects on international law. Because free trade agreements greatly accelerate globalization, the cases that such agreements have produced are also discussed.

The heart of this thesis asserts that globalization—fuelled by free trade agreements—is in direct conflict with traditional international law. International law is built upon relationships, common interests, conciliation, mediation, and universal human values. International law seeks balance, preventing one country from being too powerful, or another from being too oppressed. The recent strengthened free trade agreements fly in the face of years of careful development of international law. Because trade agreements are themselves an inherent part of international law, the new, rapid explosion of free trade deeply threatens the long standing body and strength of international law.

Proposed solutions include slowing down the process of globalization and utilizing the already-existing language within trade agreements to enforce cultural and environmental concerns.


Comparative and Foreign Law | International Law

Date of this Version

April 2004