Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2011

Publication Citation

18 Indiana Journal of Global Legal Stuides 803 (2011)


Transnational corporations (TNCs) not only occupy an important status as economic actors on the international scene, but they are also political actors who are increasingly involved in the progressive development and enforcement of the regulatory structures of the international economic system. Against this background, this article focuses on the current status and potential future development of TNCs as steering subjects in international economic law (IEL). It evaluates the role played by this category of nonstate actors in two of the central public international law fields of IEL, namely the legal order of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the international regime on the protection of foreign investments. Based on this evaluation, this article argues that the multilateral framework of world trade law, on the one side, and international investment law, on the other side, serve as notable "reference fields" for two competing approaches to the incorporation of TNCs in the regulatory practice of the global economic system and thus to their position as steering subjects in the framework of IEL as a whole. In light of these findings, this article provides some broader conceptual thoughts on the normative guiding vision of an emerging transnational economic community as an analytical framework for assessing the future development of TNCs as steering subjects in the international economic realm.

(First presented at a symposium in the context of the biannual conference of the German Law & Society Association (Vereinigung fur Recht und Gesellschaft e. V) on "Transnationalism in Law, the State, and Society." This conference was organized together with the Collaborative Research Center (CRC) 597 "Transformations of the State" at the University of Bremen from March 3-5, 2010. The Collaborative Research Center 597 'Transformations of the State," U. BREMEN, www.staat.uni-bremen.de)