This year the World Trade Forum at the WTI is exploring the rule of law in monetary affairs. This morning Markus Krajewski presented an excellent paper on the human rights implications of austerity programmes in the Eurozone. There ensued an interesting debate, in which a former general counsel of the IMF Francois Gianviti made the rather astonishing statement that not all customary international law was binding. He wasn't referring to the persistent objector theory or customary rules in conflict with jus cogens. Instead he seemed to think that the IMF members had somehow contracted out of custom in the IMF Articles of Agreement, such that the customary international law of human rights that might otherwise be applicable to members in their dealings with the Fund and in the Fund would nevertheless not be binding. According to the chamber of the ICJ in ELSI for a treaty to be read as suspending or modifiying the application of customary between the parties there has to be clear intent of the parties. I do not know where that could be found in the IMF Articles. I would be interested in the views of other bloggers on the answer to this mystery. Mr. Gianviti himself couldn't point to an exact provision of the Articles that manifested such a clear intent. He also noted the difficulty that customary international law of human rights has itself largely arisen since the Articles were concluded. Ultimately, his remarks seem to reflect more than anything else the traditional hostility of the Fund bureaucrats to considerations of human rights getting in the way of what they consider more serious business.
I will report further on some of the other interesting debates and papers at the Forum, including on trade rules and currency manipulation.