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International Economic Law

International economic law regulates both the conduct of sovereign states in international economic relations, and that of private parties in cross-border economic and business transactions.  Its legal manifestations encompass a wide variety of sources including customary international law, as well as bilateral, regional and multilateral treaties.  The scope of the field too is inherently open-textured impacting on vital areas of (domestic and/or international) concern including public health and environmental regulation, development strategies, and human rights protection.  Structurally, the field is characterized by significant delegation of interpretative authority to third-party adjudicators, such as state-to-state dispute settlement (particularly in the World Trade Organization) and investor-state arbitration (via bilateral and regional investment treaties).  

In the current period, there are a range of contemporary developments in the field that require careful and considered scholarly attention.  These encompass the charged implications (especially for developing countries) of the shift away from multilateralism in international trade regulation, the contestable nature of key sovereignty constraints in international economic law and/or their adjudication and the powerful backlash against the field based on populist and/or distributional grounds.

The EUI and its researchers are naturally positioned to engage with the vanguard of important issues surrounding the field.  For instance, the unique European social welfare model offers enormous potential as a counter to contemporary distributional concerns in international economic law (though dependant on its legal reflection in treaties concluded by the European Union).  In recent years also, the European Union has begun to act as a strategic norm entrepreneur in the field through, for example, its creation and championing of an Investment Court System to replace ad hoc investor-state arbitration.  

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Page last updated on 25 July 2018