Research Agenda and History

Founded in 2009, the Institute is an international collaborative project to foster research and policy dialog about the structure and potential for global governance and international law affecting pressing issues of global regulation and policy. We are particularly focused on the relationship between the transnational regulatory environment and the potential for sound economic development. The Institute aims to foster innovative approaches to global policy and political economy, and new thinking about international legal and institutional arrangements, with particular emphasis on ideas and issues of importance to the global South. Much about how we are governed at the global level remains a mystery. Scholars at the Institute are working to understand and map the levers of political, economic and legal authority in the world today.

Click HERE to learn about Research Projects currently underway at the Institute.

At IGLP, we are convinced that governance is not only rules, institutions and procedures. Ideas also matter. If for a generation everyone thinks an “economy” is an input‐output mechanism to be managed, and then suddenly everyone thinks an economy is a market for allocating resources to their most efficient use in the shadow of a price system, a great deal has changed. That is also governance. The transformation of ideas about what an “economy” is, whether it is national or global, autonomous or institutionally embedded, can be as important as transforming the institutions that sustain the operations of that economy. At the IGLP, we encourage research into the genealogy of governance ideas as they have played out in the fields of international law, international economic law, regulatory policy, human rights and development policy.

All of our academic programming is designed to support our research agenda, starting with our signature IGLP Doha Workshop for young scholars, and continuing through opportunities for Workshop alumni and IGLP scholars to build collaborative teams, deepen their thinking and develop research for publication through multi‐year participation in our various streams, pro‐seminars and advanced workshops. We also aim to provide a framework at Harvard for students and faculty interested in pursuing innovative and heterodox research on foundational questions of theory and history as well as pressing issues of global policy.

At the same time, we continue our history of engaging the policy community and sponsoring important transnational dialog. In recent years, we have convened policy-makers and scholars in Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Thailand, Russia and China, as well as in the United States to engage with our ongoing research activities.

In 2011, for example, we undertook an investigation of the structure and efficacy of the anti‐corruption legislation passed in more than 30 countries since the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, assessing the relationships among the network of statutory and treaty obligations, the emergence of a transnational practice of private sector compliance and due diligence, and the growth of criminal enforcement efforts in the last several years, particularly in the United States. In September, 2011 David Kennedy and Dan Danielsen of our Academic Council published a report entitled Busting Bribery: Sustaining the Global Momentum of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act that examines the current efforts in Washington, D.C., to amend the FCPA and presented the research in various venues in Washington and New York, most recently in an ABA sponsored webinar on anti-corruption compliance in February 2013.

In March and August of 2012, we convened leading scholars, corporate and policy professionals in Cambridge and in Bangkok Thailand as part of our ongoing research project on financial regulation, financial inclusion and development. In August 2011, we co-sponsored a major public discussion of the place of a rising Asia in the political economy of the world, to be held in Bangkok Thailand. The event brought current and former political leaders from Europe, Latin America, Africa, the United States and Asia into dialog with academics and researchers from our global network. In this spirit, we have brought leading figures from the foreign affairs establishment in Moscow to Harvard for an intensive discussion of “Putin’s Russia in International Affairs,” and have hosted scholars from across the Americas interested in rethinking Latin America’s position in global legal and political culture. In collaboration with the German Foreign Ministry, we sponsored a series of critical reflections on global governance in workshops held in Germany, at Harvard and in Mexico. We worked closely with ASEAN to support their candidate for appointment as Secretary General of the United Nations. We have helped support efforts by an important regional government in the Middle East to improve its ability to tackle governance issues in ways distinct from the demands and one‐size‐fits‐all programs of the international financial institutions and foreign aid agencies.

We have also regularly convened international research teams for an on‐site investigation of policy directions and experience, through site visits and discussions with policy makers, often followed by an academic conference reflecting a first cut on the findings of the research inquiry. In 2008, we convened law and development specialists from more than ten countries in Bogota, Colombia for a series of workshops and research trips, co‐sponsored with the University of Los Andes (Bogota). We explored national development plans and lending strategies at the Central Bank – as well as the Constitutional Court ‐‐ and investigated, for comparative purposes, the coffee growing and flower growing industries. Thereafter, David Kennedy chaired a conference on New Perspectives in Law and Development at the University of Los Andes in Bogota. The research team came from across Latin America, South Africa, Europe, Egypt, Syria and the United States. We sponsored a similar research initiative in 2007 in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The research mission focused on innovative initiatives implemented in Brazil by public and private institutions from “participatory budget” projects, the “bolsa escola”, negotiated land‐reform, the HIV/AIDS program, the Novo Mercado at the São Paulo Stock Exchange, the favela disarmament campaign, as well as the development contributions made by industrial leaders such as Embraer Airlines and Petrobras. In 2006, we sponsored a workshop and conference on the use of foreign law in legislation with the Library of the National Congress in Santiago, Chile. Participants included development and comparative law specialists from almost a dozen countries in North and South America, Europe and the Middle East. We have also cosponsored a workshop on “globalization and development” in Moscow, Russia which brought experts from Brazil, the United Kingdom, Austria, and the United States to meet with senior colleagues in Moscow for discussion.