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Trade and Governance on the International Stage

MEDIA RELEASE 03 July 2003

United We Stand? Trade and Governance on the International Stage

The future of multilateral agencies such as the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation will be under discussion when leading international lawyers meet at Victoria University’s Faculty of Law from 4-6 July.

ANZSIL, the Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law (which normally meets in Canberra) is meeting for only the second time in Wellington, and international relations will be under the spotlight. “Given recent events in Wellington and Canberra, the conference theme, ‘International Governance and Institutions: What Significance for International Law?’ is particularly appropriate,” says ANZSIL chair Don Rothwell.

“Almost all the sessions will cause us to reflect in some way on the question of multilateralism vs. unilateralism: in terms of the challenges posed to the UN as a result of actions in Iraq and elsewhere, and to an organisation such as the WTO by Australia (and New Zealand) angling for a free trade agreement with the US.”

The first day of the Meeting will focus on International Trade, beginning with a keynote address from NZ Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade The Hon Phil Goff.

Dr Hans van Loon, the Secretary General of the Hague Conference on International Law; Professor Campbell McLachlan from Victoria University; and Professor Benedict Kingsbury from New York University will be among international experts examining the WTO in the 21st century, ‘closer economic relations’ between Australia and New Zealand 20 years on, and what lies ahead on the trade law horizon.

Also up for debate is how the international community will deal with the ongoing war on terror – through the UN, or more “coalitions of the willing”, as Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer suggested last week?

“Whether it is in the context of trade, human rights or issues of armed conflict,” says Rothwell, “the underlying question is the threat to multilateralism, and the possible future shift to unilateral answers to international issues. In the light of recent events, where to now for the international institution?”

This 11th annual meeting of ANZSIL is co-sponsored by Victoria University’s New Zealand Centre for Public Law and the Centre for International and Public Law at the Australian National University in Canberra.


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