International Economic Law in Context

We live in an ever globalising world, with economic globalisation being the main dimension influencing global behaviour. The ability for the international trading system to provide a platform that sufficiently supports the ability of all stakeholders to benefit from globalisation is more important now than ever. This platform is referred to as the multilateral trading system (MTS) which, through the World Trade Organisation (WTO) provides a series of agreements that regulate international trading activity. However, the interests of civil society has transcended the focus of purely trade liberalisation and enhanced trading opportunities, to include how trade can affect amongst others the environment, health and human rights, leading many scholars to believe that greater responsibility is necessary in the process of trade liberalisation and facilitation, therefore making the WTO more than a trade liberalisation set of rules. Other trade liberalising agreements undertaken on a regional or bilateral level tend to better provide for the inclusion of social concerns that are connected to trade enhancement.

The conveners of this theme welcome proposals addressing the possibility, success or failure of trade liberalising agreements in addressing social concerns resulting from trade liberalisation.

Proposals may include topics from the following non-exhaustive list.

  • What are the theoretical assumptions regarding trade liberalizing agreements vis a vis social concerns
  • What cases can be made for WTO rules to cover issues other than trade liberalisation
  • How can the WTO through its Dispute Settlement Process and jurisprudence be utilized to pursue social concerns
  • How can the work of international organisations involved in human rights, labour rights, human health, animal rights and environmental protection be incorporated into future trade liberalizing initiatives.

We hope to stimulate discussion and further collaboration on these and other questions among participants of the theme/stream.


Mervyn Martin ( and Maryam Shadman Pajouh (