Analysis

The Analysis Section of Afronomicslaw.org publishes two types of content on issues of international economic law and public international law, and related subject matter, relating to Africa and the Global South. First, individual blog submissions which readers are encouraged to submit for consideration. Second, feature symposia, on discrete themes and book reviews that fall within the scope of the subject matter focus of Afronomicslaw.org. 

The RCEP and a Geopolitical Pivot to the Asia-Pacific

The RCEP can be seen as a crucial step within the longer process of integrating the Asia-Pacific region and of its increased geopolitical centrality. This process started with the idea of the “Asia-Pacific” and then, with the establishment of ASEAN in 1967, and later ASEAN+3 in 1997 that improved dramatically the relationship between nations in Southeast Asia and in the Asia-Pacific, allowing to avoid major conflicts. However, there remains a deficit of trust among Asia-Pacific members—complicated by China’s rise and a lack of an Asian identity—necessary to respect commitments on trade, investments, and intellectual property. While we are witnessing a pivot to the Asia-Pacific region, the Atlantic bloc and “the West” more broadly are far from disappearing.

The Role of the Judiciary in Constitution Making: The Two-Thirds Gender Principle in Kenya

The study examines the role of the judiciary in constitution making in postcolonial contexts. The judicial implementation of the constitutionalised gender quota (two-thirds gender principle) in Kenya’s 2010 Constitution is used as a case study. There are two interlocking themes that run throughout the study. The first is the story of the two-thirds gender principle as a tool to transform gender relations both in the public and private sphere – how did it end up in Kenya’s constitution framework? What purpose was it meant to achieve? What has been its implementation journey? The second is Rule of Law and constitutionalism in postcolonial states – there have been a proliferation of studies on decolonised perspectives of constitutionalism in the Global South. The study explores a gendered constitutionalism tin both stories through an empirical study involving judges, public interest litigators, constitution review experts and civil society stakeholders.

Geopolitical Implications of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

On November 15, 2020, 15 nations signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement. The signatories comprise the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) as well as Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.This post will highlight three significant aspects of the agreement: market access opportunities; increased opportunities for intra-agreement supply chains; and implications for the United States as a non-participant.

The RCEP - Great Power Competition and Cooperation over Trade

Despite being the largest free trade agreement (FTA) in the world, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is often criticized as a shallow FTA. In this essay, however, we contend that the RCEP is better understood in the context of the great power rivalry between the United States and China. We argue that the RCEP marks China’s rise as a shaper of trade law norms and governance mechanisms, which intensifies great power competition. On the one hand, by solidifying the world’s largest regional trading bloc, including through enacting very liberal rules of origin, the RCEP tightens ties among Asian economies and counters the efforts of the US to divert supply chains away from China. On the other hand, the inclusion of new rules on issues like e-commerce in the RCEP illustrates the potential for some cooperation between the two countries over the governance of the emerging digital economy, despite considerable challenges. The essay concludes with thoughts on the options for the new US administration in dealing with China.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP): Separating Fact from Fiction

More significant than trade liberalisation is the RCEP’s geopolitical statement. Initial commentary from the West has mostly misread the signal, with narratives that the RCEP is a huge economic and political win for China, that the RCEP was a China-led initiative to counter the TPP, and that the agreement provides further evidence of a rising China and a global geopolitical shift – all of which misrepresent the reality of the agreement and overstate reality.

Introduction to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Symposium

The contributions to the symposium on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) feature essays from across the world. The topics are diverse too: some dwell on the geopolitical implications of the RCEP, some dwell on its dispute settlement chapter, while some others on issues which the text of the Agreement either ignores or deals with only perfunctorily. Despite the divergence of the views of the contributors, on some points, they broadly tend to agree. They clearly perceive the RCEP as the beginning of a growing trend where economies in the Asia-Pacific region could play a much more pivotal rule in global trade rulemaking.

Patent Law-Making in Context and the Value of Socio-Legal Approaches to Studying Intellectual Property in Global South Countries

By highlighting the governance practices that enabled India and Brazil to circumvent and minimize the oppressive TRIPS regime, Vanni offers a critical perspective with key implications for scholarly work on the politics of intellectual property in marginalized contexts. Her emphasis on local approaches to law-making is certainly instructive for the interdisciplinary literature on intellectual property that tends to focus on foreign appropriation of traditional knowledge and illegal efforts such as piracy and counterfeit production to subvert the international regime.

“Patent Games in the Global South” and the Race for COVID-19 Vaccine: Why Nigeria is Lagging Behind and what Needs to be Done

Amaka Vanni already proffered answers to the foregoing nagging questions, and more, albeit within the broad conversation around pharmaceutical patent and access to essential medicines and health technology in the Global South. She undertook this task in her well-researched and exceptionally captivating monograph: Patent Games in the Global South: Pharmaceutical Patent Law Making in Brazil, India and Nigeria (Hart Publishing 2020). In the book, structured into 7 strong chapters, she critically unpacks, engages and beautifully links the role of states and non-states actors in international patent law-making with the realities of patent legislation and policy formulation, as well as pharmaceutical innovation and R&D in Brazil, India and Nigeria. 

Review of Chapter 5 on India: From Little Acorns to Mighty Oaks

This chapter, like much of the book, is exceptionally well researched, and brings seemingly unconnected developments neatly within the overarching narrative mentioned above. The author’s focus on how international law affects the ‘mundane’ everyday life, and vice versa, allows (or perhaps requires) her to examine much more than just the oft over-discussed ‘hot topics’ (i.e., compulsory licenses and patentability criteria) of the Indian pharma-patent landscape.

'Brazil: The Juridical State' - Review of Amaka Vanni's Patent Games in the Global South

A central point highlighted in Vanni's analysis comes in the title of the chapter itself, “the Juridical State”. Brazil's social and political conflicts are for the most part moderated, and often even defined, by the role of courts. Hence, this centrality of the Judiciary in legal-political disputes is an unavoidable aspect of the analysis (and particularly as this was perhaps not always the case in the country's history). In IP and health policy, the influence of the Judiciary is crucial, where certain courts may take decisions on the validity of pharmaceutical patents - directly affecting conditions of competition and access to medicines - and superior courts may decide upon the constitutionality of aspects of laws and regulations that may either legitimize or fully impede the implementation of public health policies in IP matters.