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Center on Global Legal Transformation


The Center on Global Legal Transformation analyzes the new trend of states operating not as autonomous principals, but as agents of ‘global rulers’ - public and private actors with the capacity to organize at the transnational level and influence the drafting of international treaties, non-binding agreements, and domestic law.

Globalization has brought about profound changes in the role of law for social ordering. Just as the birth of the nation state gave rise to national legal systems and an international legal order built around sovereign states, globalization is transforming the way we govern ourselves.

Paradoxically, the major challenge to the preeminence of state ordering has come from states themselves. States have decentered the process of social ordering by liberalizing trade and finance and strengthening the ability of private actors to choose the law that shall govern them; to opt in or out of state sponsored dispute settlement; and to establish private regulatory regimes. This trend has been fortified by international agreements that commit states to the principles of free trade, free movement of capital and full protection of (foreign) investor interests.

The mission of the Center on Global Legal Transformation is to study the distributional effects of these processes for people around the world as well as their impact on widely shared normative principles, such as democratic self-determination and the advancement of individual capabilities.

To date, the Center has launched three major research projects:

The Center's Director is Professor Katharina Pistor.

  • The Global Finance and Law Initiative;
  • The Emergence of Global Property Rights Regimes; and
  • The Distributional Effects of Transnational Regulation.

Center on Global Legal Transformation
Columbia Law School
(212) 854-8915