With the growth of e-commerce, a core human right concern pervading this “novel” form of trade is the right to privacy. This article makes a case for recognising privacy and its derivative, data protection in the AfCFTA’s E-Commerce Protocol and subsequent e-commerce-related agreements concluded by Africa’s Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and states members.
While RCEP creates a modified data governance template, it remains within the logic of 20th century treaty language and design. Meanwhile, a normative reevaluation of international economic law is overdue and ongoing. Depending on whether international economic law’s arc will continue to bend towards economic efficiency and aggregate welfare gains rather than planetary environmental sustainability, individual human flourishing, and justice, future international economic law may need to change in form and substance. To make treaties data-ready for the 21st century, more dynamism, flexibility, and experimentation are desirable.