The present state of international economic law leaves much to be desired. Anchored by the multilateral General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which led to the creation of the World Trade Organization, and complemented by a vast network of bilateral and multilateral investment treaties and free trade agreements, international economic law is drawn from diffuse sources. Additionally, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body and Appellate Body, which interpret the GATT provisions, and arbitral tribunals, which interpret investment protection agreement provisions, shape the content of international economic law. However, the patchwork of treaty text and dispute settlement rulings into a body of law is unraveling.
New International Economic Order
In short, the SDGs and its interesting set of targets are a fertile ground not only to reimagine past UN led decade themed goals and their implications for (sustainable) development, but, to also situate them in contemporary discourse of the activities of nations, transnational corporations and other non-state actors. As part of the 2019 Purdy Crawford Workshop, the contributions to the symposium on “Sustainable Development Goals, Trade, Investment, and Inequality” critically examine these goals from the vantage point of each contributor’s scholarly expertise.
In July 2019, the African International Economic Law Network (AfIELN), held its Fourth Biennial Conference under the theme “Africa and International Economic Law in the 21st Century” at the Strathmore University Law School (Nairobi, Kenya). This symposium contains some of the papers presented at this conference in their abridged forms. Before introducing the authors’ views on this Conference’s broader theme, we provide the important context under which the Conference took place.
The adoption of imprecise and relaxed SDT provisions that can easily provide leeway for countries to evade SDT obligations will only work contrary to the stated objective of the Agreement to promote and attain sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development among State Parties. Just as Amartya Sen correctly puts it, “the central issue of contention is not globalization itself, nor is it the use of the market as an institution, but the inequity in the overall balance of institutional arrangements—which produces very unequal sharing of the benefits of globalization”