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The Many Faces of the Trade-Environment Conflict: Some Lessons for the Constitutionalization Project


  • Perez, Oren


The 'trade and environment' nexus emerged over the last decade as one of the main concerns of the anti-globalization movement. The dyad 'trade-environment' was invoked increasingly as if it designates a singular social dilemma, whose boundaries and contours are well defined. This article challenges this assumption. The trade and environment conflict, it is argued, should not be viewed as a singular problem, but rather as an amalgam of multiple dilemmas, constituted by a myriad of institutional and discursive networks. The article's main thesis, which follows from this pluralistic image, is that the trade-environment conflict cannot be resolved by a singular (meta) legal formula or economic model. Its resolution requires, rather, an assemblage of varied responses, which will be sensitive to its multi-dimensional character. This thesis leads to a more general critique of global Constitutionalism, which questions the attempts to resolve global dilemmas through unitary institutional structures. The article develops an alternative constitutional conception, which replaces the search for all-embracing universalistic structures, with an experimental (even opportunistic) outlook, directed by a pragmatic and contextual approach. The notion of ' polycentric constitutionalization ' is used to describe this alternative conception. To illustrate its general thesis the article considers the ecological problematic of the IMF 'structural adjustment' programs. The goal of this examination is both to expose the contours of the trade-environment conflict as it arises within this particular domain, and to propose some ideas for resolving the problematic of the adjustment programs, which will be guided by the vision of ' polycentric constitutionalization '.

Suggested Citation

  • Perez, Oren, 2002. "The Many Faces of the Trade-Environment Conflict: Some Lessons for the Constitutionalization Project," European Integration online Papers (EIoP), European Community Studies Association Austria (ECSA-A), vol. 6, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:erp:eiopxx:p0084

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dessus, Sebastien & Bussolo, Maurizio, 1998. "Is There a Trade-off Between Trade Liberalization and Pollution Abatement?: A Computable General Equilibrium Assessment Applied to Costa Rica," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 11-31, February.
    2. RF Mikesell, 2000. "Bretton Woods - Original Intentions And Current Problems," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 18(4), pages 404-414, October.
    3. Kessler, J. J. & Van Dorp, M., 1998. "Structural adjustment and the environment: the need for an analytical methodology," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 267-281, December.
    4. Raghbendra Jha & John Whalley, 2001. "The Environmental Regime in Developing Countries," NBER Chapters,in: Behavioral and Distributional Effects of Environmental Policy, pages 217-250 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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