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The changing nature and role of soft law in international economic law and regulation: from state-centric to globalist paradigm

Alkan-Olsson, Ilhami (2007) The changing nature and role of soft law in international economic law and regulation: from state-centric to globalist paradigm. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86355) (KAR id:86355)


This study examines the changing nature and role of "soft law" in international law. Focusing on international `economic' soft law and regulation, the study contends that the transformation of international economy and politics in the 1980s have culminated in a paradigm shift in the international economic soft law and regulation changing both its nature and role. The leading "state-centric" paradigm of 1960s and 1970s has been replaced by a dual "globalist" paradigm, which consists of two sub-paradigms: the "non-state actor" and the "hegemonic state". The "non-state actor" paradigm refers to a non-state normative order, centred on the regulatory role of non-state actors. This paradigm has gained ground to (i) meet business need for flexible and efficient legal instrument, (ii) respond on a voluntary basis to `societal expectations'. The "hegemonic state" paradigm, on the other hand, indicates a move from soft law and de-regulation to hard law and re-regulation. The major reasons for this move are to facilitate the expansion of market economy and to accomplish the creation of a disciplined global market through bilateral and multilateral legalisation as well as through international economic institutions. Yet, this tendency of re-regulation has it is argued often been obscured by the dominant market-centred vocabulary, which promotes a pluralistic, hybrid and informal rule-setting and implementation model. On the whole, this study recognises that soft law may represent an opportunity for the normative development of international law by assuming an authoritative, interpretative or complementary role. Soft law can also promote a more participatory and democratic rule-making. The study nevertheless holds that in the foreseeable future the trend towards soft, voluntary, informal, and decentred regulation may have adverse effects on the already weak normative structure of international law, blurring further its normativity threshold by incorporating political and economical elements in a contextual and deformalised way.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86355
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: K Law
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:53 UTC
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2021 11:51 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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