International Economic Law

A.Y. 2019/2020
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The international economic law course focuses on three major areas of international economic relations, namely trade, foreign investments, and currency arrangements. The purpose of the course is to open students to the legal analysis, offering them the tools for a proper understanding of the rationale and content of relevant treaties and other international law rules. Accordingly, the course will complement other courses included in the master programme, addressing international economic relations from the perspective of the political, economic or historical analysis.
International trade law, interntional investment law and international monetary law are examied through the prism of multilateral cooperation and of the more recent preferential agreements. The aim is to illustrate and discuss the similarities and differences between these two approaches, focusing in particular on relevant policies of the European Union.
Expected learning outcomes
Students will acquire an overall knowledge of the most fundamental concepts of public international law. They will be able to apply them to the realm of economic relations, in view of understanding the legal dynamics of inter-State relations in trade, financial and monetary matters and improving their ability to contextualize their economic and political implications.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second trimester
Course syllabus

- Multilateral and Preferential Approaches in International Economic Law;

Unit I: International trade law

The analysis of the rules governing multilateral and preferential trade relations will be based on the relevant case law concerning their interpretation and application. Particular regard will be given to landmark cases of WTO panels and the Appellate Body.

- Customs obstacles to trade under WTO law and in PTAs (US-China trade war);
- The principle of non-discrimination in WTO law and in PTAs (CETA);
- The equilibrium between trade liberalization and other societal values and interests (GATT case Thailand - Cigarettes; WTO cases US-Shrimp and EC - Preferences; US tariffs on steel and aluminum);

Unit II: International investment law

The analysis of the rules governing the promotion and protection of foreign investment will be based on the relevant case law concerning their interpretation and application. Regard will be given, in particular, to landmark cases of (ICSID or ad hoc) arbitral tribunals.

- Scope and rationale of IIL. History and evolution; the recalibrated approach of the EU to investment protection;
- Investment and Investor: definitions and case studies; main standards of protection (ICSID cases Fedax, Salini and Malaysian Historical Salvors; ICSID cases on fair and equitable treatment);
- The expropriation of foreign investment (ICSID cases)
- Non-economic concerns in IIL and the right to regulate (ICSID case Philip Morris v. Australia; CETA)
- Investor-State Dispute Settlement and its reform.

Unit III: International financial law

This part of the course will focus on the interrelationship between financial integration and financial stability under an international economic law perspective.

- Financial integration: The liberalization of international capital movements under international economic law;
- Financial stability: IMF financial assistance and the policy of conditionality; financial stability under EU law (ESM Treaty)
- Financial and sovereign debt crisis under international investment law (ICSID cases: jurisdiction issues - Ping An v. Belgium, Abaclat v. Argentina, Poštová Banka v. Greece, Marfin v. Cyprus; substantive issues - Abaclat v. Argentina);
- The protection of financial stability under international trade law (WTO case Argentina - Financial Services)


- Contents, history and structure of international economic law
- International economic law as an order of principles and rules

Unit I: International trade law

- World trade law and regional trade agreements
- History and development of world trade law; the World Trade Organization; the multilateral and the plurilateral agreements on trade
- The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994
- The agreements on sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS) and on technical barriers to trade (TBT)
- The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)
- Subsidies and anti-dumping measures
- Dispute settlement in the WTO
- The regional integration of markets

Unit II: International investment law

- Foreign investment in practice
- Customary international law
- Concessions and investment: agreements between states and foreign companies
- Treaties on investment protection
- The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes

Unit III: International financial law

- International monetary law and international economic relations
- The International Monetary Fund: objectives, organization, and functions
- The World Bank and other international financial institutions
- Debt crises and State insolvency
- International regulation of the banking sector
Prerequisites for admission
No prerequisite is needed. However, a basic knowledge in International Economics and International and/or European Law is highly recommended.
Teaching methods
The teaching method is based on frontal lessons. For each topic covered by the course, lessons will focus on: a) the political background; b) the relevant legal regime and the challenges raised by its interpretation, application and enforcement; c) specific case studies and case law. Active participation by students is expected.
Seminars by external experts will provide students with a practical perspective of the main implications of international economic cooperation.
The syllabus and the teaching materials will be uploaded on the Ariel website of the course (
Teaching Resources
M. HERDEGEN, Principles of international economic law, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2nd edition, 2016: International trade law, chapters 11-14, 19 and 23; International investment law, chapters 31-35; International financial law, chapters 38-39 and 41-42.
The programme of the exam will also include the materials uploaded on the Ariel website of the course.

M. HERDEGEN, Principles of international economic law, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2nd edition, 2016: Introduction, chapters 1-10; International trade law, chapters 11-16, 17, 19-20 and 23; International investment law, chapters 31-35; International financial law, chapters 38-42.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The final exam is written, and it consists in three open questions covering the three units of the course. The purpose is to appraise students' capacity to investigate economic issues from a legal perspective, in particular their ability in analysing trade, investment and financial issues according to international and EU law tools. Particular attention is given to the proper use of legal lexicon.
For attending students, specific attention is given to the case studies discussed during classes.
IUS/13 - INTERNATIONAL LAW - University credits: 6
Lessons: 40 hours
Educational website(s)
Thursday (4-7 p.m.) by Skype (giovanna.adinolfi).
Tuesdays 16-19
Dipartimento di studi internazionali, giuridici e storico-politici, Via conservatorio 7, Third floor, Room 27