Cancelled International Economic Law and the Green Transition

Course content

The course will start with an introduction to the basic structure and principles of international economic law. The general introduction will be followed by three parts, reflecting the three main areas of international economic law: (I) International Trade Law; (II) International Business Law; and (III) International Investment Law and Dispute Settlement. In all three areas the impact of environmental commitments onto international trade and investment will be examined, including such issues as trade and climate change, sustainability of Global Value Chains; and  regulatory space available to the host countries with regard to existing and future investments. Highly interactive character of the course, and various forms of engagement of students, are aimed at development of skills and competences meeting the demands of modern legal practice in an international business context.


Part I (International Trade Law) will provide students with theoretical and practical understanding of the regulatory framework of international trading system.  It will explain the history and background of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as trade institution and its origins as GATT. It will analyze substantive WTO rules on non-discrimination, market access, as well as fair trade issues, as well as the basic principles of trade in goods and trade in services. It will also discuss specific WTO agreements that address non-tariff barriers: the TBT Agreement and SPS Agreement, as well as the trade-related intellectual property rights issues (TRIPS). The relationship between trade rules and other non-trade values, such as environmental protection, climate change, public health and human rights will be examined. The course will also address the issue of the trade wars and the crisis of the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism.


Part II of the course (International Business Law) will acquaint students with legal aspects of international enterprises and commercial relations. It will examine regulatory framework for international business transactions, including international legal standards (such as the UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods), as well as European law and transnational regulations. Course participants will also get acquainted with legal standards for international payments, with a particular focus on Letters of Credit (L/C) under the Uniform Customs & Practice for Documentary Credits (UCP 600). The course will further examine typical business forms for enterprises active overseas and Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) structures and address the issues of CSR and ESG standards in regard to liability for environmental damages, borne by the MNEs. The problem of environmental sustainability of Global Value Chains will then be discussed. Methods of resolution of international business disputes (in particular international commercial arbitration) will also be examined. 


Part III of the module (Sustainable International Investment Law and Dispute Settlement) will broaden the focus on regulations of the relationships between foreign investors and their host countries by specifically considering impact on the environment and the communities that inhabit the existing/proposed investment sites. International investment law concerns and regulates the protection of foreign investments in the territory of the host country – however, it is also increasingly about the regulatory space of host states, as well as their right to interfere with foreign investment due to public interest or the realization of a public objective. This has become a public issue with greater scrutiny of environmental impact of such investments and the right to regulate ongoing and future investments in view of the challenge posed by climate change.  It is a highly fragmented legal field with over 3000 investment treaties in force, including bilateral agreements (BITs), as well as a growing number of regional, sectoral, or comprehensive agreements. The course will examine the field as a topical, constituent domain in international economic relations. It will also discuss its consequences vis-à-vis public health, environment, development, etc. At the module, students will be introduced to the principles of international investment law, its content, context, scope, status quo; as well as perspectives for its future development. The course attempts to bring together divergent perspective from both the capital/investment-centric point of view as well as the environmental concerns. The course will acquaint students with key legal-political discussions, policy trends and current treaty practice. As a case law driven module, it will also introduce students to the arbitral jurisprudence, arbitral reasoning, as well as international adjudication.


See a video presentation of the course


Course topics


  • Introduction: Contents, structure and basic principles of international economic law.


  1. I. International Trade Law
  • Multilateral Trading System: History and Institutions
  • Substantive WTO rules on Non-discrimination, Market Access and Fair Trade Issues.
  • Principles of trade in goods and trade in services
  • Specific WTO agreements on Non-tariff Barriers: the TBT Agreement and SPS Agreement, Trade-related Intellectual Property Rights Issues (TRIPS).
  • Trade and environment: Carbon taxes
  • Trade dispute resolution


II. International Business Law

  • Establishment Forms of Commercial Presence Abroad: Types of Business Units, Multinational Enterprises
  • CSR/ESG standards and liability of private actors for environmental damage
  • Global Value Chains in the context of environmental sustainability
  • International Sales and Contract Law
  • International Payments: Letters of Credit


III. International Investment Law and Dispute Settlement

  • International Investment Law and Politics: History and Development
  • International Investment Law and Its Sources
  • Substantive Protection Principles
  • International Investment Arbitration and Dispute Settlement
  • Future of International Investment Law
Learning outcome

Upon the completion of the course, the students will be – in terms of:

1. Knowledge

familiar with:

  • general issues of international economic law, as well as with specific legal problems, characteristic to the international trade and business environment
  • institutions, regulatory framework and jurisprudence in the areas of international trade, investment and business law in the context of the Green Transition
  • the range of available dispute resolution mechanisms for trade, investment and international commercial disputes and of the scope of their application
  • specific demands for legal services in international economic relations in comparison to domestic practice - with a special focus on digital aspects of international commercial and investment relations
  • public and private law dimensions of international trade, investment and commercial regulations


2. Skills

trained in:

  • strategy building
  • planning and conducting negotiations
  • legal research, preparing and formulating legal opinions
  • formulating and drafting policy recommendations, 
  • preparing and presenting arguments in hypo cases and mock proceedings


3. Competences

able to:

  • identify, interpret and apply sources of law applicable to international trade, investment and business relations
  • critically assess and solve issues related to public interest (environment, health, etc.)
  • identify and apply relevant standards of performance
  • determine and explain scope of liability of the parties to economic relations

be familiar with and able to select from adequate methods of dispute resolution, identify institutions and procedures relevant to specific types of IEL cases (WTO, regional mechanisms, ICSID, private arbitral centres)


- lectures
- seminar discussion
- case study (case law analysis, hypo solving)
- negotiations simulation
- moot court/mock proceedings
- debates
- strategy building (group exercise)
- team assignments (case analysis and presentation)

Selection of readings provided by the instructors (ca. 800 pages), including inter alia:


International Trade Law:

  • Peter Van den Bossche and Werner Zdouc, The Law and Policy of the World Trade Organization: Text, Cases and Materials” , Chapter 3. WTO dispute settlement, Chapter 4. Most-favoured-nation treatment, and Chapter 7. Non-tariff barriers.   
  • J.H.H. Weiler, S. Cho, I. Feichtner & J. Arato 2016, International and Regional Trade Law: The Law of the World Trade Organization, 1-29
  • Chi Hung Kwan, The China-US Trade War: Deep-Rooted Causes, Shifting Focus and Uncertain Prospects, Asian Economic Policy Review, 2020. 55-72.


International Business Law:

  • Ray August, Don Mayer and Michael Bixby, International Business Law. Text, Cases and Readings, Chapter 4. The Multinational Enterprise and Chapter 10. Sales
  • Larry A. DiMatteo International Business Law and the Legal Environment. A Transactional Approach, Chapter 2. Ethics of International Business
  • Peter Muchlinski Multinational Enterprises and the Law, Chapter 15. Environmental Issues


International Investment Law:

  • Patrick Dumberry and Gabrielle Dumas-Aubin, ‘When and How Allegations of Human Rights Violations Can Be Raised in Investor-State Arbitration’ (2012) 13 The Journal of World Investment & Trade 349
  • Judith Levine, "The interaction of international investment arbitration and the rights of indigenous peoples" in Investment Law within International Law (ed. Freya Baetens, 2013)


Stefanie Schacherer, “Sustainable Development—An Integral Part of EU Investment Law-Making” in Sustainable Development in EU Foreign Investment Law, 148-222

Good analytical skills

Good command of English

The course is an updated version of the module International Economic Law. The updates are aimed at broad incorporation of the aspects of environmental sustainability, in accordance with the KU strategic goals, and in fulfillment of the demands of the DFF ENERGIZE grant, to which the course is tied.

Continuous feedback during the course
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 min.
Type of assessment details
Oral exam without preperation, 20 minutes
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 343,5
  • Seminar
  • 69
  • English
  • 412,5


Course number
Programme level
Bachelor choice

1 semester

  1. Students enrolled at Faculty of Law: No tuition fee
  2. Professionals: Please visit our website  
Please see timetable for teaching time
Contracting department
  • Law
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Law
Course Coordinator
  • Joanna Lam   (10-7176687575683573687447717c7935727c356b72)
Saved on the 15-06-2022

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