In this symposium, our contributors react to Prof Taylor’s paper by interrogating embedded structures of knowledge generation and creation, economic development in Latin America, international law, disadvantageous investment agreements, and continental integration. In particular, the essays explore how these arrangements reshape traditional centre-periphery relations.
I am delighted to introduce the book symposium on my new monograph titled Sovereign Debt Restructuring: The Role and Limits of Public International Law. Unfortunately, the time could not be riper to discuss the role played by international law in sovereign debt restructuring. In fact, as a consequence of the ongoing economic recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is facing a new systemic sovereign debt crisis.
This article will briefly examine this dynamic across three interconnected dimensions: (1) flexibility and innovation in IEL agreement models, with a focus on trade agreements, that better integrate economic and social development goals and allow parties to adapt to new circumstances or phase in commitments on a more incremental basis; (2) flexibility in implementation of trade disciplines and agreements; and (3) legal and regulatory innovation that can both define and flow from IEL agreements. These three dimensions take into account both treaties themselves and how they relate to changes in law and regulation in practice, drawing a link between international agreements and their operation that is particularly important in times of change or uncertainty. In assessing dimension three, legal and regulatory innovation, which has been a focus of my work over the past decade,
The quality of public service delivery has been shown to affect tax non-compliance in an important way. Among other issues that have been attributed to low tax revenues in Nigeria, the State of the fiscal social contract can be said to be the single most important underlying cause. While there remains a depth of systemic issues to be resolved in order to rebuild the broken links in the fiscal social contract properly, the predicted post-pandemic impact on digital communication and business provides Nigeria with the opportunity to leverage on digital growth and engagement to bargain a stronger social contract, particularly with its largest demographic.
Our ethical conundrum as we think about issues of global distributive justice in the post-pandemic era is that social contract theory fails to provide an adequate framework for conceptualizing duties and obligations of international organizations to individuals, as opposed simply to their member states. The tension comes from the fact that people intuitively have a sense of justice which is offended by the manner in which power is wielded by those at the helm of the global financial order to place the interests of international organizations, banks, and multinational corporations over and above those of individual human beings, particularly those at the margins of the world economy.
Currently, the world finds itself at a crisis point. The global health pandemic caused by COVID-19 has drastically changed the way we live, how we run our economies and even, how we teach and research IEL. In the post-COVID world, old rules and games may not apply any more. The scholarly interventions presented in the IEL Collective symposia offers tools for a new, pragmatic internationalism – one based on critical reflection, methodological diversity and contributes towards the development of a more holistic landscape of scholarship on law and the governance of the global economy.
Finally, we have seen a surge in climate activism, especially from children and young adults, especially after Greta Thunberg launched the Fridays for Future (FFF) Movement in August 2018. FFF is a global movement that seeks to ‘put moral pressure on policymakers, to make them listen to the scientists, and then to take forceful action to limit global warming.’
The COVID-19 crisis is likely to make countries in the global south accumulate more debt in a global economic environment where repayment of current debt will be difficult. The speech by Thomas Sankara on the morality of debt repayment asks us very difficult questions which humanity must collectively confront if debt crises are to become relics of past economics. The collective inability by the global south to assert itself on negotiating tables and to recreate itself in the aftermath of various global crises has been a sad misuse of crises.
To mitigate the risk of speculation, I have proposed that the international community should create a Debts of Vulnerable Economies Fund (a “DOVE” fund) to help African countries deal with their private sector debt. The fund could be created by an African institution such as the African Development Bank or the African Union. The fund should be financed by governments, foundations, financial institutions, companies and individuals. In order to demonstrate its independence from both debtor countries and creditor institutions it should be managed by an independent board representing all stakeholders.
Aside from price-related breaches of competition law, horizontal coordination measures are now put in place by businesses to provide essential services to consumers in order to keep the economy afloat. Such coordination, which ordinarily raises competition red flags, is now temporarily permitted in some jurisdictions, especially as the economy now runs on a skeletal basis. As the exigencies of the pandemic seem to have upended market practice, one wonders if competition law rules are fit for this perilous time and ponders on the intervention of the Nigerian Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Authority (“The Commission”) in the situation.