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Vulnerability, International Economic Law, International Investment Law, Covid-19, Intellectual Property Law


This Symposium is one of the follow-up publications to the Webinar III on “Vulnerability in the Trade and Investment Regime in the Age of COVID-19”

‘Vulnerability’ in trade and investment regimes is not a new phenomenon. Nor, is the concept of ‘crisis’. While IEL scholarship has acknowledged some of the way(s) in which the formalisation of international legal rules in trade and investment can act like a ‘straightjacket’ on global south states, sustaining and creating forms of dependencies that are difficult to escape, there is a notable lack of meaningful engagement with the contours and manifestations of concepts like precarities, inequalities, and crisis that the narrative of vulnerabilities encompasses. As Clair Gammage and Olabisi D. Akinkugbe argue in their forthcoming paper, “the analysis of the vulnerability status of the marginalized groups in international economic law is not a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. While those issues and the vocabulary of the vulnerable have been subjected to the periphery of IEL analysis, the pandemic has only brought to the fore and made more realistic, and quite unfortunately, the plight of the marginalized in our largely unequal multilateral trading regime.” We hope the essays in this symposium shed some light on the modest steps that could be taken to untangle the complexity that has come with this crisis.