Ethics & International Affairs Volume 14 (2000): Special Section: Justice and the World Economy: International Organizations and the Pursuit of Justice in the World Economy [Abstract]

Dec 4, 2000

Evaluating the role of international organizations (IOs) in promoting social justice in a globalizing international political economy, this essay presents and defends four propositions:

  1. IOs are in a different, and more vulnerable, political space vis-à-vis globalization than are nation-states, firms, nongovernmental organizations, or labor unions;
  2. Central perceptions about problems of social justice in the context of globalization common to many IOs are a product of the history and intellectual trajectory in which these organizations have evolved;
  3. As a result, there is a common theme and a core set of objectives at play, having to do with promoting and sustaining liberalization. That is obviously not the same thing as social justice, although in some intellectual frameworks there is a tight relationship; and
  4. The ability of IOs to promote these goals has been challenged and will continue to be challenged by globalization.

The essay concludes by arguing that IOs are suffering a loss of legitimacy, and that both social and technological changes associated with globalization will make it harder for IOs to recapture the power to affect the behavior of other actors in world politics.

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