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Prof Akbar Rasulov

Professor of International Law

Akbar Rasulov is a Professor of International Law. He is the director of the LLM programme in International Economic Law and the overall subject area lead for international law at the School of Law.

Professor Rasulov’s expertise lies in the areas of international economic law, international legal theory, and post-Soviet legal studies. He has published on a wide range of topics, including the international law of democracy, the law of the WTO, post-Soviet Central Asia, the critical sociology of international law academia, and the political economy of international adjudication. His current research focuses on the subject of international economic coercion and its place in contemporary international law. As a legal consultant, he has also advised and worked together with governments and international organisations on a variety of legal education, rule of law, and capacity building projects, including the UNODC’s Education for Justice initiative. He is a member of the managing board of Europe-Asia Studies.

Below is a list of key publications. For a full list please click on the following links:

University of Glasgow Profile



The Horizontal Mechanism Initiative in the WTO: The Proceduralist Turn and Its Discontents

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This article addresses a series of questions relating to the development of the so-called ‘horizontal mechanism’ (HM) initiative within the World Trade Organization. Through close readings of the various accompanying texts and scholarly writings, it proposes a robust critical-theoretic engagement with the topic going beyond what has so far been attempted in the literature. The article proposes a detailed structuralist analysis of the internal and external structures of the HM discourse. It then proceeds to interpret the emergence of the HM initiative and the development of the accompanying conventional wisdoms in the light of the broader legal-historical dynamics characteristic of the presentday public international law enterprise. Drawing on David Kennedy’s seminal “International Legal Structures”, it concludes by analysing the HM episode as part of what can be called the ‘inevitable’ proceduralist turn in contemporary international law.

Central Asia as an Object of Orientalist Narratives in the Age of Bandung

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This chapter was written for a collection of essays exploring the history and legacy of the 1955 Bandung conference. Its focus is the discursive production of the "idea" of Central Asia during the first half of the Cold War era. Because of its unique historical and cultural circumstances, Soviet Central Asia provided an important – and today completely underappreciated – reference point for various debates concerning economic modernisation and development policy that took place around that time across different parts of what would soon come to be known as the "Third World". What sort of content was encoded in the course of these debates into the "idea" of Central Asia? What promise did the idea of Central Asia hold for the newly decolonised polities in Asia and Africa? And what role did Central Asia’s own ambivalently colonial status within the broader Soviet statebuilding project play in the production of that content and that promise? Taking the view that the key to each of these questions lies, ultimately, in the narrativisation of Central Asia by the two main protagonists in the Cold War, this essay traces the different forms of Orientalising discourses produced by Soviet and Western policymakers and commentators. It argues that despite all the differences between them, at their shared focal point lay the same basic notion of Central Asia as a "practical advertisement" and proving ground for Soviet socialism as a model of cultural and economic development.

‘From the Wells of Disappointment’: The Curious Case of the International Law of Democracy and the Politics of International Legal Scholarship

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It is a common impression shared by many international lawyers today that the brief ‘turn to democracy’ that occurred in some segments of international legal scholarship in the early to mid-1990s was, on the whole, little more than a detour of overly excitable imagination – not exactly a complete error of judgement or an outright frivolity, but certainly a lapse of conceptual clarity and professional rigour. Whatever changes may have occurred within the broader international legal system, the argument goes, they certainly did not amount to a ‘democratic revolution’, and any claims to the contrary were and are simply baseless. The kind of fundamental reorganization of the international legal system that was forecasted by scholars like Thomas Franck and Anne-Marie Slaughter never took place, and the main lesson one should learn from this whole episode is that international legal scholars should not give in to their utopian reflexes as quickly and as readily as the ‘pro-democracy enthusiasts’ did, but should rather exercise analytical restraint and professional judgement and attend much more carefully to matters of legal logic and technical legal reasoning. This, in a nutshell, is the received wisdom about the history behind international law’s ‘turn to democracy’, and the aim of this article is essentially to challenge it – in part by uncovering the latent theoretical fudging behind it, in part by exploring the general narrative structure that supports this received wisdom and the latter’s relationship to the broader ideology of international legal anti-utopianism.

International Legal Universalism: A Reactionary Ideology of Disciplinary Self-Aggrandizement

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New Voices and New Perspectives in International Economic Law

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This book brings together a series of contributions by international legal scholars that explore a range of subjects and themes in the field of international economic law and global economic governance through a variety of methodological and theoretical lenses. It introduces the reader to a number of different ways of constructing and approaching the study of international economic law. The book deals with a series of different theoretical agendas and perspectives ranging from the more traditional (empirical legal studies) to the more alternative (language theory) and it expands the scope of substantive discussion and thematic coverage beyond the usual suspects of international trade, international investment and international finance. While the volume still gives due recognition to the traditional theoretical project of international economic law, it invites the reader to extend the scope of disciplinary imagination to other, less commonly acknowledged questions of global economic governance such as food security, monetary unions, and international economic coercion. In addition to historically-focused and critical perspectives, the volume also includes a number of programmatic and forward-looking explorations, which makes it appealing to a broad audience with a variety of contrasting interests. Therefore, the volume is of particular interest to academics and postgraduate students in the fields of international law, international relations, international political economy, and international history.

John D. Haskell