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On Trade Justice, Power and Institutions – Some Questions for Risse and Wollner

Oisin Suttle


While Risse and Wollner make an important contribution to theorising global justice and trade, I identify certain concerns with their approach and suggest an alternative that addresses these. First, I query their emphasis on subjection to the trade regime as a morally salient feature, suggesting their argument trades on an ambiguity, and fails to connect the trade regime, as a trigger, with their preferred account of trade-justice-as-non-exploitation. Second, I examine their treatment of the WTO, how they understand international organisations as inheritors of states’ obligations, and how far an organisation like the WTO can or should be self-consciously reoriented towards justice-as-non-exploitation. Third, I ask how their account is distinct from existing approaches, and whether it makes sense to apply the same conception of justice across diverse agents and institutions. I conclude by sketching an alternative approach, which makes the justification of states’ policies to outsiders the central problem of trade justice.

Corresponding author: Oisin Suttle, Department of Law, Maynooth University, Maynooth, Co. Kildare, Ireland, E-mail:


I am grateful to anonymous reviewers for this journal for helpful suggestions in improving this paper.


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Published Online: 2021-09-03
Published in Print: 2022-04-26

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