Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


Rurnu Sarkar

First Page



Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers once commented that the end of the Cold War was the second most interesting story of the past two decades. According to him, the most compelling story during that time was the emergence of global capital markets.' This viewpoint heralds a subtle sea change that signals the beginning of a newly formed international consensus. Making a successful transition from being a "developing nation" to being an "emerging capital market" is now the most serious challenge facing the developing world today.

Trade relations and capital investments are now being rationalized in a new international economic order where the post-colonial imprint of the past is gradually becoming irrelevant. Whether we consider trade in goods, technology, or capital, the marketplace has become truly global. Over the course of the past decade, the playing field has been leveled to such an extent that virtually any commodity, product, service, or information may now be obtained from anywhere by anyone using the vehicle of e-commerce.

The rise of a new global economy over the past two decades has meant that the increased cultural diversification within this newly created international marketplace now poses complex, new ethical challenges and dilemmas. This is particularly the case where a plurality of cultural values, norms, and beliefs is fundamentally changing the nature of international business transactions.

In this dynamic context of change, the need for ethical decision-making in support of the economic development of emerging economies has become more critical, and the process by which such decisions are made by policymakers in emerging markets has become more complicated and difficult to manage. This, in turn, has profound implications for the course of the development of emerging and transitional economies. This Essay defines the new legal architecture of development law and underscores the importance of ethical decision-making--a new and critical tool in exercising principled choices in the development law process.