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European University Institute - Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies - Department of Law

Meet new Joint Chair in International Economic Law Professor Sergio Puig

Professor Sergio Puig is joining the EUI as a Joint Chair at the Department of Law and the Robert Schuman Centre. In an interview, he expands on his background, his new role, and his aim to contribute towards the understanding of how international law can address today’s global problems.

23 October 2023 | Research


Professor Puig, you are joining the Robert Schuman Centre as a Joint Chair in International Economic Law. What will your role entail?

As a Joint Chair, I have appointments at both the Law Department and the Schuman Centre. I see my primary role at the EUI as contributing to the understanding of how international law can address today's global problems, such as growing inequality or uneven modernisation of economic activity, within and between borders.

In addition to supervising PhD researchers at the Law Department, my role entails conducting research, which is always informed by (and tries to inform) policy and practice of law. My general focus is understanding the different ways in which nations transfer decision-making, authority, and power to international institutions, and how different actors engage with and sometimes even abuse international law.

I also see my role as bringing an interdisciplinary perspective about the makings, interpretation, enforcement, and future of international law. Understanding the actual way in which international law operates will be fundamental to addressing global challenges. At a time of intense contestation of the post-WW-II order, we must work towards better multilateral institutions to tackle global challenges, including systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy, and religious nationalism. Solutions to these problems are essential for the future of liberal democratic societies—international law has an important role to play.

In 2021, you published your book 'At the Margins of Globalization: Indigenous Peoples under International Economic Law'. Can you elaborate on how the insights from this book align with your fields of research and how you plan to further explore and promote these fields in your work at the Robert Schuman Centre?

In the book, I examine the extent to which the main fields of international law that are tasked with promoting economic engagement and interdependence between countries address the rights and interests of Indigenous Peoples, an expressly protected category under international law. This intersection provides important insights on how to address globalisation's negative effects. The book highlights some of the systemic elements of disempowerment often ignored in the main "narratives" over the negative effects of globalisation, and seeks to provide a critique of globalisation more consistent with international human rights law. In the coming years, I will explore questions identified in the book, including normative and doctrinal debates with respect to Indigenous economic rights.

My book has attracted attention to the treatment of Indigenous Peoples by international economic law scholars, as well as by policymakers in international organisations. I plan to continue to work with these institutions to make their policies and practices more attuned to the protection afforded by law to these groups. Here, my previous roles as a diplomat and as a member of the Committee for Constitutional Reform on Indigenous Rights of Mexico will come in handy.

What are your goals during your time at the EUI? What are you most looking forward to?

My main goal is to enrich the wonderful community at the EUI and to provide a small window into Latin-America. I see myself as linking communities and crossing disciplinary boundaries—perhaps as a result of my background as Mexican (with mixed, including Italian, ancestry) and my path as a scholar in interdisciplinary institutions in the United States. I am looking forward to working alongside a cadre of top-notch professors and researchers engaged in addressing the core issues of our times from multiple viewpoints. Coming from Mexico, a country with important Spanish heritage, I also hope to contribute with a unique perspective that reflects the values of open and democratic societies.

Last update: 25 October 2023

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