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From Autonomy to Integration? International Law, Free Trade and the Environment

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Our current understanding of so-called “self-contained regimes” is based on an overly simplistic appreciation of how such regimes interact with each other and with the larger body of international law. Drawing on an analysis of WTO case law, this article highlights two distinct normative relations, addressing the relationship of international trade law vis-à-vis general international law and international environmental law. As the analysis reveals, further differentiation of normative relationships is needed to better understand how such seemingly independent regimes operate in a fragmented legal system. It also shows that a recently proposed interpretative tool, systemic integration, raises new questions and challenges traditional conceptions of international treaty law.

Affiliations: 1: Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights, University of Helsinki, Finland; 2: Ecologic - Institute for International and European Environmental Policy, Washington, DC, USA

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