Professor Christopher McCrudden has been awarded a prize by the American Society of International Law (ASIL) for his recent book "Buying Social Justice" (OUP 2007) which looks at the practice of achieving social justice through government spending.

Professor McCrudden at ASIL

Professor McCrudden receiving the award

The ASIL Awards Committee's report
Certificate of Merit for a preeminent contribution to creative scholarship : Christopher McCrudden,  Buying Social Justice: Equality, Government Procurement, and Legal Change  (Oxford). States in the early twenty-first century increasingly make policy by spending billions on private contracts.  Indeed, the modern nation-state has in large measure become a conduit for huge amounts of money spent on buying goods and services from the private sector.  But how does (or should) international law affect such spending, and what are the implications for human rights and social justice? 

This highly original and immensely rich book takes on these timely questions. Drawing on international economic law, human rights doctrine, normative theory, and an astonishingly thorough analysis of relevant regional and domestic law, Professor McCrudden provides a rewarding treatment of the challenges associated with the transnational and comparative problems of regulating governmental contracting. His theoretical treatment of the subject shows why procurement is uniquely capable of affecting the distribution of benefits and burdens in societies, and demonstrates why international law doctrines – particularly rooted in the laws of the World Trade Organization and the European Union – are relevant to public contracting.  The project's analytical strengths are also demonstrated by its treatment of economic arguments concerning the potential problems involved in linking the regulation of public contracting activity to social policy objectives, its evaluation of ethical concerns associated with contracting, and its mastery of the institutional realities affecting contracting under different legal regimes.  Particularly illuminating case studies analyze procurement in light of the emerging World Trade Organization legal regime, and in the context of European Community regulations.  

Because it creatively weaves together elaborate coverage of legal institutions with a focus on understanding the law in social context, the book manages to make three contributions.  First, it demonstrates convincingly that the social realities associated with procurement have important implications for social equality and human rights.  Second, by undertaking such a comprehensive and analytically sophisticated study, Professor McCrudden is helping to forge what will likely become a major new field at the intersection of international law, social policy, and governance. That field must grapple not only with the future international law architecture regulating contracting, but also with the fact that existing international laws already create a nascent regulatory structure.  Finally, Professor McCrudden has taken a major theoretical step in helping us understand the challenges and opportunities that will arise as international law grapples with the public problems posed by partially privatized nation states.