I – WHO WE ARE
We are the Law, Economy and Society Group (LESG), a group of professors and students, as well as legal professionals (see members below), mainly from Brazil, who are formally and informally related to the Law School of the University of Brasília. We are committed to developing academic work through research and publicized discussions on the international, regional and domestic consequences of global economic policy. Our work is guided by legal and intersdisciplinary analysis of the formation and/or impact of economic and other public policies and by the goal of building a critical understanding of the legal, political, economic and social reality in which we live.
We take as two basic premises of our work a critical view of the evolution of “economic law” doctrine and adherence to the value of individual freedom, which we understand to be embedded in important principles of constitutional law and of international human rights law. At the same time we adopt a critical approach to the “general theory of law”, which (unfortunately in our view) still constitutes the backbone of the curriculum of the study of law in Brazil and many other countries. Morever, we have agreed that our analyses of domestic and international economic policies should proceed through interdisciplinary inquiries while incorporating an effort to develop contextualized meaning of the principles of law and their relation to the institutionalization of intricate cobinations of ideal and material interests.
Given our interdisciplinary perspective, we have decided to incorporate to our work conceptual and analytical contributions from economic anthropology, economic history, economic sociology, political economy, political sociology and international relations theory. We believe that these contributions may help us build a distinct understanding of the contexts in respect of which must be developed the meaning and practical implications of principles of constitutional law and international human rights law. We also think that the effort to reconstruct categories of legal analysis may have relevant impact on legal education and on the legal profession. One result of our efforts has been the development of a distinct approach to the analysis of economically relevant legal problems. We call our approach the Legal Analysis of Economic Policy (LAEP) — see here and here.
We have chosen this blog as one of the platforms to publicise some of our discussions and concerns. Most of our posts will be in Portuguese. But we will publish a number of posts in English. At times we will also provide English translations of posts originally published in Portuguese.
II – OUR CONTEXT
Since the 1970s and 1980s the institutional system of the international economy underwent important changes. These changes affected the way in which several major multilateral bodies worked, including the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and the Bretton Woods Institutions, namely the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Non-tariff barriers such as “subsidies” began to be focused by the GATT since the Tokyo Round (1973-1979). Subsequently the Uruguay Round (1986-1994) and resulting international legislation have given prominence to strategic trade policies, which became a central legacy of the World Trade Organization (WTO). And reformed programs adopted by the Bretton Woods Institutions shifted the emphasis of IMF and World Bank policies to the implementation of “structural adjustment” in developing countries. Such changes in the goals and procedures of international economic cooperation brought about deep and still on-going reforms in the instruments of domestic economic policies and local public policies in several countries including Brazil.
More recently, given (i) the increasing importance of private cross-boundary financial flows, (ii) the economic crisis of 2008-2009, which developed initially from speculative practices in upstream financial markets dealing in derivatives based on real estate market contracts and (iii) the rather lenient regulatory responses to the causes of such crisis, no realistic perspective of a fundamental change in the policies concerning the institutional and normative basis of real-economy and financial markets seems to be considered by leading political authorities. This indicates that economic action will continue to yield mixed results from a moral and legal perspective, while economic interests under existing normative (legal) arrangements will continue to foster – alongside the enrichment of circumscribed social groups – the persistence of global poverty, lack of appropriate development in many regions, environmental degradation and so forth. The process as a whole has ultimately led to political backlashes, recognizably in the Brexit referendum (June 2016) and in Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential elections in the United States (November 2016).
III – OUR GOALS
We are interested in researching and debating arguments and decisions that affect the way in which investment, production, consumption, culture, technology, the law and social and political relations interact to form the world in which we live. Our goal is to show that many decisions could and should be different from what they are — so that the world could be transformed into one in which there is more respect to cultural diversity, identities, tastes and forms of imparting value to the environment. This would be a world in which there would be more opportunities for the institutional realization of the sense of justice and freedom of each individual and each community that inhabit our planet.
Updated Jan. 2017
Members of the group (updated July 26, 2013)