Sustainable Development in International Law Making and Trade
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Sustainable Development in International Law Making and Trade

International Food Governance and Trade in Agriculture

Elisabeth Bürgi Bonanomi

This timely book provides an accessible insight into how the concept of sustainable development can be made operational through its translation into legal terms. Understood as a multidimensional legal principle, sustainable development facilitates coherent international law making. Using this notion as an analytical lens on the WTO Agreement on Agriculture, the book considers the unresolved question of what a sustainable and coherent agricultural trade agreement could look like.
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Chapter 6: The legal foundations of the assessment

Elisabeth Bürgi Bonanomi


International public law has often been considered incoherent and fragmented. This consideration is particularly true for international trade law – including trade in agriculture – and has resulted in close scrutiny by civil society over the past decades. However, despite the current impasse of the Doha negotiations, the crisis of multilateralism and the proliferation of both bi- and plurilateral trade agreements (BTAs and PTAs), the existence of multilateral trade regulation remains of high importance, given its exemplary nature for BTAs and PTAs and its potential to harmonize trade rules and practice in the future. The deadlock of the Doha Round has been attributed to different reasons, among them the fact that member countries disagree on how to revise the WTO Agreement on Agriculture (AoA). Several attempts to resolve the conflict have failed, and it might be time to examine the issue from a fresh perspective by looking at the AoA from the angle of sustainable development. Furthermore, independently of the Doha negotiations – and at the beginning of the Third Sustainable Development Decade – it must be asked what it would imply if the AoA was geared to the principle of sustainable development. Hence, in the following two chapters, the AoA will be assessed for its coherency with respect to its sustainability record. The chapters ask for clarity regarding how the AoA could be deemed as a sustainable, coherent framework in the above-mentioned sense. For this, the framework of informed and inclusive decision making, including the three duties as delineated in section 3.

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