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WTO and Investment Law


WTO and Investment Law
This course covers the basics of international trade and investment law, which are of vital importance for a business lawyer in the 21st century. To start with, the basic institutional as well as substantive WTO rules are discussed. Attention is paid to the “constitution” of the WTO, its structure, rules on dispute settlement, and the main substantive rules laid down in WTO. In recent years, new trade rules have been negotiated outside the WTO context, in bilateral or sometimes regional agreements. Having discussed the various WTO principles, we will inquire what key FTAs (notably those negotiated by the EU) seek to add to the WTO regime.
This overview is followed by an analysis of the rules regarding international investment. Tthese rules have increasingly come to be seen as complementary to the traditional framework governing international trade. From a business perspective, the attraction is that –contrary to the international trade framework which is intergovernmental in nature— private parties have direct access to an international dispute settlement mechanism. At the same time, civil society is becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of international investment law on the policy space of governments (e.g., regarding public health and environmental protection). In 2009, the EU received important new regulatory powers over foreign direct investment. The European institutions and the Member States are now grappling with the question how economic and non-economic objectives are to be reconciled in a new generation of treaties.


Europa Institute Steenschuur 25 2311 ES Leiden Phone: 071-527 7760 Website: Sheena Bruce, Phone: +31 (0)71 527 7821

Prof. dr. Freya Baetens - xxxxxx- Course Coordinator; Mr. Hiroki Yamada

** Course Objectives:**

Objectives of the course:
A key objective of the course is to enable students to identify which business or societal issues create a case or controversy under international trade or investment law. This is a matter of gaining knowledge of positive law. Another objective of the course is to give students an insight into certain policy debates about the rules of positive law – and to see which changes are now being discussed. Another theme addressed in the course is whether and how private stakeholders (businesses, NGOs) can rely on intergovernmental trade and investment rules.

Achievement levels:
The following achievement levels apply with regard to the course:
Knowledge and comprehension:  Being familiar with basic trade and investment law rules and concepts.
Application:  Being able to apply these rules and concepts to actual cases. Understanding some of the major controversies and policy discussions concerning these rules.
Analysis:  Students should gain a working knowledge of the main international treaty rules on trade and investment, with an understanding of the underlying policy objectives.
Presentation:  Students should demonstrate that they are capable of applying international trade and investment law to policy questions and hypothetical cases studies.

Mode of Instruction:
Students are expected to attend 6 interactive lectures, 3 case study seminars and 3 presentation sessions. For every lecture, students have to review the mandatory reading listed on Blackboard, and be prepared to discuss these materials in class. For every case study seminar students have to review the relevant materials which form the basis of the case study in preparation of the exam case studies. For each presentation session, students have to review the materials relevant to the policy reform that will be debated.
Lecture 1: The WTO as an institution and its dispute settlement system
Lecture 2 : Rules on non-discrimination and market access
Seminar (a): Case studies for exam preparation
Lecture 3 : Trade liberalisation and other societal values and interests
Lecture 4 : Rules on unfair trade and the harmonisation of national regulation
Seminar (b): Case studies for exam preparation
Lecture 5 : Sources of international investment law and definitions
Lecture 6 : Expropriation and standards of host state behaviour
Seminar (c): Case studies for exam preparation
Presentation session (i)
Presentation session (ii)
Presentation session (iii)

Assessment Method(s):
50% of the students’ grade will be determined based on an in-class presentation concerning a particular policy reform question.
50% of the students’ grade will be determined based on a written in-class exam consisting of a hypothetical case study.
Students who pass both components, or, who fail one component but obtain an overall passing grade, will not be allowed a retake to obtain a higher grade.
Students who fail both components, will have to do a retake for both (same format).

Reading List:
In addition to consulting the materials listed as required (and recommended) reading on Bright Space, the students need to purchase three books:
For the trade part of the course: The Law and Policy of the World Trade Organisation, Text, Cases and Materials by Peter Van den Bossche & Werner Zdouc (5th edition, Cambridge University Press, 2021).
For the investment part of the course: International Investment Law – Text, Cases and Materials by Krista Nadakavukaren Schefer (3rd edition, Edward Elgar, 2020)

Course Materials

  • Course Reader can be downloaded from Bright Space

Course requirements

  • Master degree


  • Sheena Bruce, – Phone: +31 (0)71 527 7821

Currently these pages are being updated to reflect the courses for 2023 - 2024. Until these pages are fixed as per 1 September 2023 no rights can be claimed from the information which is currently contained within. Should there be any future extenuating circumstances which may impinge our teaching and assessment, these could necessitate modification of the course descriptions after 1 September. This will only happen in the event of strict necessity and the interests of the students will be taken into account. Should there be a need for any change during the course, this will be informed to all students on a timely basis. Modifications after 1 September 2023 may only be done with the approval and consent of the Faculty Board and Programme Director.