Journal Article

A Real Partnership for Development? Sustainable Development as Treaty Objective in European Economic Partnership Agreements and Beyond

Henning Grosse Ruse-Khan

in Journal of International Economic Law

Volume 13, issue 1, pages 139-180
Published in print March 2010 | ISSN: 1369-3034
Published online March 2010 | e-ISSN: 1464-3758 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jiel/jgp044
A Real Partnership for Development? Sustainable Development as Treaty Objective in European Economic Partnership Agreements and Beyond

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The CARIFORUM EPA (…) is a new kind of free-trade agreement as sustainable development is the presiding principle governing the whole agreement.1

The European Community (EC) is currently negotiating Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with several groups of developing countries. An element which the EC Commission likes to highlight is the objective of sustainable development. This article analyses the potential of this ‘presiding principle’ of sustainable development as a treaty objective—in the EPAs and other treaties in international economic law. Defining parameters are the international law background on sustainable development and the role of treaty objectives in the process of interpretation. The main findings are that a sustainable development treaty objective is one (of many) legal tools to achieve an integration of economic, environmental and social interests. Its specific value lies in its substantive ambiguity which translates into domestic policy space in the implementation of international treaty obligations. This discretion is limited by any specific integration performed in the treaty negotiating process and expressed in individual treaty provisions. It is further qualified by the customary rules of treaty interpretation in international law where object and purpose is only one of several elements feeding into a holistic interpretation exercise. Its main weakness may be that it depends on domestic institutions to make effective use of the policy space to integrate and on international judicial bodies to exercise deference accordingly.

Journal Article.  19708 words. 

Subjects: Financial Law ; Public International Law ; Economics

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