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This content is taken from the The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies's online course, International Affairs: Global Governance. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds The management of international affairs take many forms. For a long time it relied mostly on international treaties, whereby states agreed to limit their sovereignty for their own benefit. Whereas there are still many treaties signed and ratified every year, we have witnessed, in the last 20 years, a rise of what is called in the literature, soft law. That is, instruments that do not require the ratification of states, and therefore remain voluntary in their legal nature. Prominent among those instruments are standards of many sorts. As we will discover, soft law may, in fact, have a harder, stronger impact on the behaviour of various actors than a legally binding agreement.

Skip to 0 minutes and 55 seconds An equally intriguing question is the variation in the use of the respective parts of the toolbox across domains of activities. Contrast for instance, international trade, where the use of treaties at the global, regional or bilateral level still dominates. Contrast trade with international financial regulation, marked mostly by standards and codes of conducts. Why is this so? Is this due to the nature of the problem, to the strengths of domestic interest groups, and therefore the capacity of states to endorse a legally binding agreement? Or, is this due to the timing of the creation of those instruments? Let’s explore those issues together.

The diversity of tools

This week, you will analyse a diverse set of regulatory tools for global regulations as well as their blended forms.

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This video is from the free online course:

International Affairs: Global Governance

The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies