Susan Block-Lieb Discusses New Book on Global Lawmakers


Professor Susan Block-Lieb detailed the findings of her new book, Global Lawmakers: International Organizations in the Crafting of World Markets, during an April 10 Fordham Law presentation with her co-author, sociologist Terence Halliday.

Global Lawmakers (Cambridge University Press) provides a first-of-its-kind socio-legal empirical study of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), an intergovernmental organization formed in 1966. Block-Lieb and Halliday were the first interdisciplinary scholars to receive unlimited access to UNCITRAL, based in New York and Vienna. The scholars observed UNCITRAL’s biannual working group meetings for 12 years, performed hundreds of in-depth interviews, and analyzed the working group attendance of its 60 member states to answer how global lawmaking efforts impact global lawmakers.

“As a result of this empirical study, we discovered that UNCITRAL was seeking to build transnational legal orders—convergences at the transnational, national, and local level,” Block-Lieb said. “In addition, our ecology theory posits UNCITRAL as one of many major international organizations competing to be architects for international commercial law for the world.”

UNCITRAL includes a highly diverse member state delegation from every corner of the globe. “But membership is distinct from participation,” remarked Block-Lieb. She and Halliday discovered that there is often an enormous drop-off between participation in the first session and subsequent sessions of UNCITRAL’s working groups, and that around 10 countries from the most developed OECD nations form the “inner core” of these groups. Transitional and developing countries do not participate as regularly.

Halliday, who is a research professor at the American Bar Foundation, adjunct professor of sociology at Northwestern University, and honorary professor at Australian National University, commented on these deficiencies in global governance, which he argued “not only undermine the UN’s efficiency but also its efficacy.”

Terence Halliday

Terence Halliday

Their book has received wide praise. John Braithewaite, distinguished professor at Australian National University and founder of its School of Regulation and Governance, describes Global Lawmakers as a “work of rich new insight” that “reveals the processes through which governance is crafted.”

Block-Lieb and Halliday followed book launches at their home institutions with presentations in May at Oxford University’s Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Amsterdam Law School, Copenhagen Business School, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Durham University and Duisberg University. The book is also the focus of an Author Meets Reader panel at the Law & Society Annual Meeting in Toronto in June, and workshops at annual meetings of the Society for the Advancement of Economic Sociology (in Kyoto) in July, and the American Sociological Association (in Philadelphia) in August.


Increasing Our Scholarly Impact is one of the six objectives of the Law School’s strategic plan, Fordham Law Forward.


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