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North-South Regional Trade Agreements as Legal Regimes

A Critical Assessment of the EU-SADC Economic Partnership Agreement

Clair Gammage

This book offers a critical reflection of the North-South regional trade agreements (RTAs), known as the Economic Partnership Agreements, negotiated between the EU and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries. Conceiving of regions as legal regimes, Clair Gammage highlights the challenges facing developing countries when negotiating RTAs with developed countries and interrogates the assumption that these agreements will and can promote sustainable development through trade.
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Chapter 4: The normative legal character of sustainable development

A Critical Assessment of the EU-SADC Economic Partnership Agreement

Clair Gammage

Extract

Chapter 4 examines the normative character of the principle of sustainable development and assesses the extent to which it constitutes a justiciable norm. Through the analysis of the jurisprudence from the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body and the UN International Court of Justice, the normative content of the principle of sustainable development will be revealed. Building on the work of Virginie Barral,1 it will be argued that the principle of sustainable development has served as an important hermeneutic tool in both judicial settings, giving colour, texture and shading to legal rights and obligations. Given the development focus of the EPAs this finding is particularly significant because it suggests that the sustainable development provisions of the agreements lack justiciability. Simply put, it implies that the sustainable development provisions in the agreement may not be enforceable through the dispute settlement mechanisms established under the EPAs. Nevertheless, in scaffolding the commercial aspects of the agreement around the principle of sustainable development it is arguable that the parties must apply the EPA in a development-friendly way. 1 V. Barral, ‘Sustainable Development in International Law: Nature and Operation of an Evolutive Legal Norm’ (2012) 23 European Journal of International Law 380.

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