Ernst-Ulrich PetersmannPetersmann.

Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann, ‘Constitutional Functions of Liberal International Trade and Monetary Rules’ in Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann, Constitutional Functions and Constitutional Problems of International Economic Law (Fribourg: Fribourg University Press, 1991) pp. 209-221.


Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann is an Emeritus Professor of the European University Institute in Florenence. He had a distinguished career in international law, most of it in Switzerland (Fribourg, St. Gallen, Geneva)  the country where he spent most of his life. He had a strong affiliation with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the main focus of his research has been international trade. Petersmann pioneered a constitutional approach to international law, in particular by depicting market access rules and fundamental rules entitling individuals and economic operators. Subsequently, he expanded his theory to encompass all human rights and to make them the very foundation of a homocentric conception of international economic law, strongly influenced by the process of European integration. Linking constitutional thinking and international economic law made him to one of the leading scholars on multilevel governance and global integration.


In this chapter from Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann’s book Constitutional Functions and Constitutional Problems of International Economic Law, Petersmann reflects upon the need and function of constitutional rules. He initially highlights the importance of distinguishing between spontaneously grown, self-generating orders from deliberately constructed organisations, where the former is capable of far greater complexity than the latter. Petersmann argues that constitutional rules, acting as a form of ‘meta-rules’, have become necessary to constrain governments and maintain a focus on long-term goals. These rules have tended to originate from liberal democracies and have placed the individual at their centre. Petersmann proposes that such constitutional rules can also be agreed upon in an ‘unorganised’ international society based essentially on private law where again the primary function is aimed at protecting individual rights and facilitating mutual gains from international trade. Petersmann stresses the need for internationally agreed restrictions on national policy instruments with harmful effects abroad in order to achieve the provision of public goods without international governments.


You can find a scan (PDF) of the original text here: PETERSMANN Constitutional Functions

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