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School of Law

SOLM267 Trade, Environment and IPRs

The tragedy of the commons doctrine argues that humans are locked into a system whereby our pursuit of self-interest erodes the commons. But according to a different view, human society is fully capable of managing the commons in ways that protect the commons and benefits us all. Continuous trade and economic growth may eventually lead to an exhaustion of environmental resources. But this is not inevitable and trade relations can be managed in sustainable and mutually beneficial ways. One means to combat this is to accept that institutional intervention and technical progress should be focused so that resources are continuously directed towards environmental improvement. Moreover, the regulation of the environment (as in food, traditional genetic resources, green technologies) affects the trading patterns of both large and small producer countries.

This module explores these concerns by studying the interrelation between : (i) the environment (as in food, agriculture, climate, bio-prospecting, and other ancillary rights such as human rights, Nagoya Protocols on climate and biodiversity rules, access and benefit sharing); (ii) trade (as in regulations within the EU, US and WTO, and other UN organisations), and (iii) IPRs (as in patents, plant variety rights, utility models, trade marks, geographical indications and technology transfer).

Applicable groupings

Mode of Assessment

  • 30 minute presentation of research topic
  • 4,500 word essay


15 Credits

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