This contribution starts with two observations, both reflecting mainstream approaches to international economic law, international institutional law and public international law more generally. First, international development law, defined as a branch of International Economic Law (IEL) that sets out “the rights and duties of states and other actors in the development process” seldom receives the same degree of research and teaching focus typically dedicated to branches such as international trade, investment and monetary regulation – as a cursory review of the tables of contents of prominent IEL textbooks and research handbooks illustrates. Second, the same can be said about multilateral development banks (MDBs) and their development-finance operations.
Public International Law
International law constructed along the voluntarist orthodoxy doesn’t help in the time of pandemic. It leaves the poorer at the good will of the mighty, for it largely ignores the actual power relations between states. The inter-state deals struck “voluntarily” and the policy choices thus fixed reflect the bargaining power of the States. This being the case, the international law is likely to reinforce and perpetuate inequalities, rather than being a check against the use of political power. As the post-corona crisis is likely to strike the poorest nations hardest, the bright future for some may mean dim prospects for others.
Afronomicslaw.org is pleased to introduce the Afronomicslaw Academic Forum and to welcome a New Editor and three contributing editors effective immediately.
To finalise our International Women’s Day symposium on scholarship by women, this post highlights some women working on International Economic Law (IEL) that the editorial team put together in the last couple of days. This post is therefore by no means intended to be exhaustive. We encourage our readers to add to our list. Next year with more time, we hope to have an even more extensive list of women working in IEL.
Utilising interdisciplinary methodologies for IEL research in the African context is not without its challenges. Access to empirical data is still difficult. Meandering your way past the bureaucracy and protocols that ‘gatekeep’ vital information is also tricky. However, all these challenges and experiences all add up to our journey as researchers
This Symposium, and the contributions carry on the conversation by examining the ways in which the contributors have harnessed theory and method in their critical scholarship on IEL in Africa. Continuing to build the knowledge base on IEL that is both rigorous and relevant to Africa has a lot to do with the lens through which research work is conducted.
TNSC Regulation may also be at odds with values and domestic policies in third States that are affected by it, which raises the question whether at a certain point the laudable fight against corporate impunity risks becoming an interference in those third States’ regulatory sovereignty. This question, of course, presupposes a broad approach to the notion (and analysis) of regulatory sovereignty. This is because “regulatory sovereignty” is usually referred to in the realm of international investment law, with discussions centering on legal obstacles for host States to freely implement policies in light of obligations on the State vis-à-vis the investor, and its home State, respectively.
What emerges from this case law is a unitary system of sources of law, with the EACJ having the power to police their hierarchical compatibility and invalidate a lower-ranking norm if it contradicts a higher-ranking one. Such an arrangement is typical for federal states; the EACJ positions itself as a guardian of hierarchical compatibility of norms within the federal system, and consequently as a constitutional court within such a system.
“Not acceptable at this level”, a professor commented on one of my exam questions that asked students to “[d]escribe the salient features of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).” This happened in 2017 at the University of Namibia (UNAM) where, until last year, I taught the International Economic Law module, a module pitched at the level of a bachelor honors degree. The professor – an academic from a leading South African university hired to moderate examination papers from UNAM’s Faculty of Law – recommended that I tweak my question as follows: “Discuss the validity of the Southern African Customs Union in the WTO framework”.