12 Jul 2021

Recap of the Society of International Economic Law (SIEL)'s 7th Global Conference

From Wednesday, 7 to Friday 9 July 2021, the Society of International Economic Law (SIEL) held its Seventh Global Conference. The central theme of the Conference, hosted by Bocconi University, Milan, was Rethinking Global Economic Governance.

The Conference comprised three keynote events, including an interview with Mario Monti, former Prime Minister of Italy, and a tribute to the late ICJ judge James Crawford, as well as five memorable roundtable discussions on inter alia the global minimum tax initiative, multi-, pluri- and unilateralism in trade policy in the 2020s, and the rule of law in international economic relations in the 21st century. The Conference also comprised 26 panel sessions and multiple poster presentations. Almost 700 persons participated in the Conference, among whom also many WTI staff and alumni, including Alexander Beyleveld, Thomas Cottier, Ilaria Espa, Kholofelo Kugler, Rodrigo Polanco and Elisabeth Türk.

In his Closing Remarks on Friday evening, Peter Van den Bossche, President of SIEL, noted that the almost 50 hours of discussions at the Conference had clearly illustrated that ‘there are difficult years ahead for global economic governance – years of fundamental changes, of tension and of disruption worldwide as a result of developments – some of which are to be welcomed and overdue, some of which are very unfortunate but probably unavoidable – and these developments include: the geopolitical superpower confrontation between the US and China; the ‘weaponization’ of trade and investment in the defence of values and non-economic interests; the unstoppable digitalisation of economic activity; and national and international efforts to address climate change and, more generally, efforts to ensure the environmental and social sustainability of economic development’. However, according to Peter Van den Bossche, the Conference had also made clear that ‘international economic lawyers, can, and must, play an important role in addressing the challenges of global economic governance in the 21st century’. Van den Bossche noted that the discussions during the Conference ‘certainly showed that there is no lack of ideas on how to address the challenges ahead’.

The videos of all of the sessions will remain available on SIEL's platform for the next two weeks and soon on their YouTube channel. More information can be found here.