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date: 25 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Global legal harmonization is an aspect of transnational law whereby a family of norms is formed by a non-state legal order. Sovereign wealth funds (SWFs)—diverse in terms of their countries of origin, size, investment strategies, asset allocation tactics, and underlying purposes—contribute to the harmonization by setting and enforcing cross-border ethical norms and governance standards. This chaper examines aspects of SWFs as transnational lawmakers, a significant phenomenon for the global family of standards and a potential challenge for state-based legal orders. It examines SWF adoption of general legal principles and customs as advanced by a global civil society and through standardized contract forms and conduct codes; voluntary enactment of informal soft laws; and creation of norm-setting institutions. It concludes that SWFs are part of a diffused, multilevel, coordinated, political system that defies state-centric paradigms, contributing to the dynamism that defines transnational law while creating concerns related to legitimacy, democratic authority, and democratic deficit.

Keywords: sovereign wealth funds, corporate conduct, law, ethical norms, business and human rights, intergenerational equity, transnational law, lex mercatoria, business ethics, public international law

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