Nations and Markets

Guest Lecture Series
18 March 2021
18 March 2021

Where: Zoom Platform - h 18.00


Nations and Markets

Economics and security seem increasingly intertwined. Citing national security, states subject foreign investments to new scrutiny, even unwinding mergers. The provision of 5G has become a diplomatic battleground—Huawei at its center. Meanwhile, states invoke national security to excuse trade wars. The USA invoked the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade national security exception to impose steel and aluminum tariffs, threatening more on automotive parts. Russia invoked that provision to justify its blockade of Ukraine, as did Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to excuse theirs of Qatar. And with the spread of COVID-19, states are invoking national security to scrutinize supply lines. Multiplying daily, such stories have led some observers to dub the era one of geoeconomics.
Nonetheless, these developments remain difficult to judge, and the relationship between economics and national security remains confused and slippery. The essay seeks clarity in the deeper logic of these labels, revealing a fundamental choice between the logics of markets and the logics of state. Whether invoked to ‘secure’ borders, privacy, health, the environment, or jobs, ‘national security’ is a claim about the proper location of policymaking. Appeals to economics, with their emphasis on global welfare and global person-to-person relationships, are such claims as well. Resolving disputes, this essay argues, requires recognizing these root choices.


  • Harlan Grant Cohen - University of Georgia Law School

Harlan Grant Cohen is the Gabriel M. Wilner/UGA Foundation Professor in International Law at the University of Georgia School of Law and Faculty Co-Director of the Dean Rusk International Law Center. His scholarship and teaching focus on international law, international legal theory, U.S. foreign relations law, global governance, and international trade, with a particular emphasis on sources, authority, and communities of practice. Cohen is a member of the Board of Editors of the American Journal of International Law and the American Law Institute. He currently serves as Chair of the American Society of International Law’s International Legal Theory interest group.


To register please fill in the application form. Deadline: 17 March 2021, h 23.59