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Over the last two decades, the scholarly study of transnational networks has—with select exceptions—been characterized by two features.
The first is an approach to transnational networks as a relatively singular phenomenon. Networks have largely been studied as a broadly encompassing choice of institutional design—with emphasis on the common characteristics that distinguish them from other design choices, rather than those that distinguish them from one another.
Three Pathways to Global Standards broadens our understanding of structures that undergird international cooperation. Stavros Gadinis argues that different kinds of lawmaking networks propagate differently. Private networks depend on market success, in the sense that the demand for their products rests on competition in the private sector. Regulators succeed when they cooperate with true peers. States use power to work their will. I have some second-order criticisms of the article, offered in the spirit of respectful engagement with good scholarship. These reservations, however, do not detract from a view that Gadinis has identified significant issues in international relations and has proposed useful theses about them as well as good strategies for their validation.
Open the website of the Financial Action Task Force (or FATF) and find your way to the “FATF Presidency” page. Up until the end of June 2015, you would have encountered a headshot of a dapper fellow with smiling eyes and a pink bowtie: Roger Wilkins OA, President of FATF between July 2014 and June 2015. A one time “mandarin” of the public service in Australia (former Secretary of the federal Attorney-General’s Department in that country), Mr. Wilkins seems an apt embodiment of those qualities that Stavros Gadinis would have us see in the FATF, as a “ministry executives” network. It seems entirely plausible to cast Wilkins as a vehicle of such networks’ “key motivation”—to pursue “broad societal goals.” From his record, he seems well suited to the role of guardian of “states’ interests” in a “secure environment,” deft at deploying his “longstanding connections” and “power relations” in order to “strike deals” and, where necessary, unleash “sanctions’ firepower.” In short, Mr. Wilkins seems to “fit neatly within the three types—private, regulator, ministry” around which Stavros Gadinis’ thought-provoking article revolves.