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Inspiration for Integration: Interpreting International Trade and Investment Accords for Sustainable Development

Marie-Claire Cordonier Segger

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Abstract

This article considers whether States have obligations, in international law, to proactively integrate environmental and social considerations into economic decision-making for sustainable development. In an era of international cooperation shaped inter-actionally by several decades of global debate, culminating in the adoption of universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nations, the article considers opportunities to support sustainable development through the interpretation and implementation of international economic treaty law and practice. In particular, the article comparatively discusses a new generation of trade and investment treaties that explicitly mention sustainable development as part of the object and purpose, examining approaches which can define and characterise the Parties’ commitments. The article briefly offers considerations for a regulator, arbitrator or jurist seeking to interpret, in accordance with the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (“VCLT”), a diverse range of environmental and social development provisions that are increasingly being integrated into international economic agreements.