Edited by Thomas Cottier and Krista Nadakavukaren Schefer
Preface and Acknowledgements
Creating this Encyclopedia of International Economic Law was an experiment in conceptualizing an extremely broad set of rules, principles, norms, and practices carried out by a remarkably extensive set of diverse actors and applying to a very wide and diverse set of human activities. International economic law, long virtually ignored by the general public international law community, has finally emerged from being considered a narrow set of technical rules of importance only to international traders to being recognized as a key component of international law. It amounts to a broad network of international and national treaties, customs, principles, guidelines, standards, and approaches that stretch between and among states, reach into national regulatory space, shape the behavior of states, companies, and individuals. They have impacts on not only the economic well-being of nations and the stability of financial systems, but also on the welfare, income, and wealth of individuals, the health of the natural environment, and ultimately on the maintenance of peace and security of international relations.
Part public international law, part private international law, part national or regional law, international economic law shares with these systems the basic goal of improving human conditions and existence through the establishment of legitimate laws and institutions to guide behavior and to harness the process of globalization. The specificity of “international economic law” rests with the centrality of the attention given to the allocation and use of productive resources, but does not otherwise a priori limit the scope of the field to matters that are solely commercial.
Defining the limits of international economic law and to conceptualizing the field was thus our first challenge. While we both take a broad view of the field, we agreed to focus on the core fields of trade in goods and services, migration, intellectual property, investment, financial regulation, and taxation in order to keep the project manageable. Other areas of international law, for example the law of treaties, or distinct areas such human rights protection or environmental law, are touched upon to the extent that they overlap with the core areas of international economic law.
Using these cornerstones, we then embarked on setting forth a reasonably coherent view of how international economic law approaches its fundamental problems and to do this in a way that is accessible to the non-specialist while still being enlightening to the expert. This task required us to consider the interactions and overlaps of each field of international economic activity. Having done so, we then grouped the concepts according to their role in the overall legal system, suggesting an overall structure conceptualizing the field. Working from scratch, our outline remains incomplete, but we are hopeful that the result is nevertheless useful and that it will prove a fruitful groundwork for further development.
The resulting Encyclopedia is a collection of entries explaining over 200 of the most significant concepts and terms of international economic law, grouped systemically rather than alphabetically. Each entry gives a basic overview of the meaning and significance of the term described as well as an indication of the areas of debate surrounding its definition, application, or even its existence. To maximize the volume’s impact, we required the authors to maintain strict word and annotation limits – a task that was made possible but also difficult by the deep expertise each had on his or her given topic. The efforts, however, paid off – the results being highly original and carefully crafted essays that capture within only a few pages the true significance of the topic and its relationship to the rest of the topics. Given that the contributions are written by different authors even within single chapters, a certain amount of overlap cannot be avoided and will in fact often offer varied views on a subject. We refrained from cross-referencing different contributions as too many are interrelated. Readers are advised to consult the alphabetical index to identify overlapping contributions addressing similar issues from their respective angle. This will allow the reader to consult these articles in context and to be drawn to further sources and seminal contributions. Views expressed are those of individual authors and may not be shared by the editors. We are hopeful that the volume will offer students a concise compendium, and researchers and practitioner’s useful entries in researching specific topics in the realm of international economic law.
p. xxxviThe cooperation and enthusiasm our contributors demonstrated was nothing short of spectacular. For this we thank each one – it was their knowledge, thoughts, and skills that have made this volume a work of which we are tremendously proud. Without the dedicated coordination by, and attention of, the assistant editors Jonas Baumann, Brigitta Imeli, Julian Powell, and Rebecca Gilgen, language editor, this volume would not have been possible. We thank them for their hours of work in maintaining correspondence with the authors, organizing the files as they came in, and formatting the final versions for publication.
The World Trade Institute and the Law Faculties of the Universities of Basel and Bern generously lent the infrastructure necessary for our work, and for that we are most grateful. Finally, we are grateful to Edward Elgar Publishing, particularly Luke Adams, Head of Law Publishing, for suggesting the project in 2014, and Laura Mann and staff for producing and editing the volume, making it usefully available to what we hope will be an interested audience.
Thomas Cottier and Krista Nadakavukaren Schefer
Bern and Basel, May 2017