Dr Rafael Leal-Arcas will speak on “Using the international trade experience to multilateralize the investment and climate change regimes,” in the context of the advanced seminars series on Globalization and International Economic Law at the University of Antwerp, Faculty of Law, Belgium on 16 May 2014.
The abstract for this presentation is below:
The thesis of this presentation is that the nature of international law is fragmented and cyclical. At first, international trade agreements were bilateral. Then came the 1947 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which multilateralised bilateral trade agreements. Years later, international trade law saw the collapse of multilateralism in 1979, which broke down during the Tokyo Round of multilateral trade negotiations. A series of new plurilateral (or selectively multilateral) agreements were adopted during the Tokyo Round, which caused a fragmentation of the multilateral trading system. In 1994, international trade law was again multilateralised with the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement.
The same thesis could be used for international investment law and climate change law. Given the success at multilateralising international trade law—while not always easy, as demonstrated by the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations—why not emulate the experience of multilateralisation of international trade law from the bottom up (which started with the GATT 1947) for international investment law and climate change law? To what extent can the experience in international trade negotiations and the WTO framework as a bottom-up approach serve as an example for the creation of both a multilateral agreement on investment and on climate change? The trend of using bilateral or plurilateral trade agreements to build towards eventual trade multilateralisation may be worth emulating for the case of investment law and climate change law.