The Public-Private Challenge: Innovating Legal and Regulatory Paradigms

On 22 and 23 September 2022, Erasmus School of Law will host a conference on theoretical and empirical contributions in the field of public and private interest, and the legal frameworks that delegate regulatory authority to private actors or seek to steer private actors towards public interests. The call for papers for this conference has closed.

Updates about the programme and registration will follow up soon.  

It is now a commonplace observation that the age of globalisation has been characterised by the growing power of private actors and, with it, their increasing relevance for social welfare.  

Overcoming (global)crises 

The climate change and health care crises, global economic inequality and continuous threats to financial stability, identity- and status-based forms of exclusion, and eroding faith in the legitimacy of liberal democracies can partially be traced to an economy shaped to facilitate profit-maximisation for the benefit of private actors. 

Yet, overcoming these crises seems to be equally bound to the actions and inactions of private actors. Indeed, multiple recent regulatory initiatives point to the direction of harnessing the power of private actors to address fundamental concerns of social and environmental sustainability. 

Relevant issues  

The fragmented attempts to “re-embed” markets by incorporating social and environmental considerations in the rationalities of private actors lead to broader conceptual questions: 

  • What is private power, and how can it be directed towards pre-set public goals? 

  • Is the power of private actors an artefact of the economy that the law can only secondarily regulate? Or is the law itself a key source of private power? 

  • How should we approach the distinction between public and private interests? Could private interests be conceptualised as a form of public interests? Or is the ‘public’ the antithesis of the ‘private’? 

  • Can the reconstitution of public power address the challenges discussed above? If so, how can public power be reconstituted in the transnational arena? Alternatively, what role can private power play in public interest projects, such as sustainability orsocial transformation? 

  • How can public interests be safeguarded by private actors and in public-private partnerships in the face of contemporary societal challenges such as globalisation, digitisation and privatisation and crises like those of the environment and public health? 

Call for papers 

Beyond these broader theoretical questions, and with the aim to answer them, the conference calls for theoretical and empirical contributions in any specific subfield of legal inquiry that deals with the public/private distinction and the legal frameworks that delegate regulatory authority to private actors or seek to steer private actors towards public interests. We are particularly, but not exclusively, interested in the private law perspective on steering private action and actors towards public interests; international and EU law, including new arrangements of transnational economic governance and human rights protection; competition law and the possibility to expand its ambit beyond the consumer welfare standard to incorporate sustainability considerations; digitalisation and the regulation and self-regulation of platforms; financial regulation and the potential of sustainable finance; or the regulation and contractual governance of global value chains and how lead firms become transnational regulators. 

Submission of proposals 

The deadline for the submission of proposals is now closed.

For more information, please contact

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