Unravelling the trade and environment debate through sustainable development law principles

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The trade and environment debate conceals the conflictive relationship between two legitimate interests of the international community: the international protection of the environment1 and the liberalization of international trade. One of the central issues of the debate is the difficult relationship between Trade Related Environmental Measures (hereinafter ‘TREMs’) in Multilateral Environmental Agreements (hereinafter ‘MEAs’) and World Trade Organization (WTO) norms. The international community must find a way to balance environmental and trade interests therein. However, a simultaneous effort to reconcile extreme positions in the more general trade and environment debate must also be undertaken. Against this background, this article pursues three main goals. First, it wants to determine if public international law rules can be used in the WTO framework. Second, it wants to see whether sustainable development and its principles have developed into a norm of international law. Third, it wants to determine whether sustainable development law may be useful to find a balance between TREMs in MEAs and WTO norms.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2005
EventEuropean Society of International Law - Geneva, Switzerland
Duration: 26 May 200528 May 2005


ConferenceEuropean Society of International Law
Abbreviated titleESIL 2005


  • sustainable development
  • trade related environmental measures
  • world trade organisation


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