A Shift in Paradigm in International Economic Law: From State-centric Principles to People-centred Policies
Surya P. Subedi
ABSTRACT: There has been a shift in paradigm in international economic law since its evolution as a distinct area of law within public international law. In its early stages of development, international economic law, sought to protect the right to property of aliens against the excesses of host states whether in the form of expropriation or nationalisation or other forms of interference in the conduct of trade and business. The law was designed to protect the rights of persons, both natural and juridical, doing business abroad. However, with the establishment of the United Nations (UN), the focus of international economic law instruments shifted to strengthening the economic sovereignty of States relying on the Charter of the United Nations and the right of self-determination of States. It catered to the needs of newly independent States seeking to strengthen their sovereignty and the aspirations of their populations. However, over the decades that very body of law has once again come to embrace developments that promote and protect the rights of persons and corporate power in order to promote economic growth supported by the ideas of free trade and free flow of investment. This change in approach is consistent with the vision of a global order envisaged in the Charter of the UN which is founded on the pursuit of peace, prosperity and happiness of the individual.