Chapter 1 When Turning a Blind Eye Is No Longer an Option

The Importance of Tackling Energy Trade and Investment Law from Multiple Fronts

In: A Multifaceted Approach to Trade Liberalisation and Investment Protection in the Energy Sector

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In this chapter, which serves as general introduction to the book, the editors present the core assumptions and the main themes of the overall project and provide a cartography to help the reader follow the flow of the argumentation throughout the volume. International trade and investment in energy have never been greater than at present. Yet, the international trade and investment legal frameworks are not expressly tailored for the energy sector and often overlook the potential repercussions of energy activities in other contexts. First, energy poses one-of-a-kind challenges to the existing trade and investment disciplines. Multilateral trade rules were not designed with energy in mind and, as a result, do not feature any energy-specific provisions. Nevertheless, their rules do apply to energy goods and services, as they generally apply to all economic sectors, and yet they might not always be adequate to deal with energy. Second, energy activities pose significant risks in terms of environmental degradation and human rights violations. Tensions do exist between the international legal framework that regulates trade and investment on the one hand, and the one governing human rights and environmental protection on the other. The aforementioned inadequacy of existing trade and investment rules relates, at least in part, to that fact that these rules often do not account for the potential human rights and environmental impacts of energy trade and investment.