International Economic Law

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The draft WTO agreement on fisheries subsidies: Are we closing the net?

On 11 May the chair of the World Trade Organization (WTO)’s fisheries subsidies negotiations released a draft text designed to spur the final stage of negotiations toward final agreement. Talks on fisheries subsidies have been on the WTO’s ledger since 2001 and have been conducted in earnest since 2016. The negotiations are the key element in States’ efforts to fulfil Sustainable Development Goal 14.6, which calls on UN Members to eliminate subsidies that contribute to overfishing, overcapacity or illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices — supposed to be completed by 2020. Over-exploitation and harmful fishing practices are contributing to the risk of extinction of many marine species and the potential collapse of marine ecosystems. Nevertheless, governments around the world continue to provide billions of dollars in fisheries subsidies annually — eg by financially supporting vessels’ purchase, equipping, fuelling, crewing, or operation. A significant portion support unsustainable practices. Having failed to reach agreement last year, delegates will meet weekly in a final push to secure agreement before 15 July 2021. If talks succeed,…

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UNCITRAL and ISDS Reform (Online): Crossing the Chasm

To text or not to text? That is the question. Or, rather, that was the question at UNCITRAL when Working Group III resumed its deliberations online last week. The Working Group’s focus was structural reforms, first selection and appointment of permanent or fixed-term adjudicators, then an appellate mechanism. As readers of this series know well, states hold different…

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The EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment: a tale of sound and fury

On December 30, the European Commission announced that the European Union and China had reached an agreement in principle on investment, nearly seven years after negotiations began. This was met with shock, if not fury— and that was even before the agreement was published. Those hoping for reinvigorated transatlantic relations between the EU and the USA following…

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Equitable COVID Vaccine Distribution and Access: Enforcing International Legal Obligations under Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and the Right to Development

Editor's Note: This post was prepared in advance of my remarks for the 12 February 2021 Global Webinar of the Notre Dame Eck Institute of Global Health ("Are we all in this together? Assessing and addressing equitable access and distributive justice in global supply chains during major disease outbreaks").  By this time, US pharmaceutical companies…

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Cairn Energy v India: Retroactive Taxation, Fair and Equitable Treatment and the General Principles Method

This post addresses an Award of 21 December 2020 in Cairn Energy v India, a case under the UK–India BIT. The headline outcome of the Award is that India’s retroactive application of taxation legislation, that subsequently imposed taxes on the transactions of the claimants that were not taxable at the time the transactions occurred, constituted a…

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