22 Apr 2024
Brown Bag Seminar, 12:00 - 13:00, Anna Nussbaum Auditorium, World Trade Institute, Hallerstrasse 6, Bern, Switzerland

Brown Bag Seminar with Niels Lachmann, University of Southern Denmark

Niels Lachmann, PhD fellow at the SDU-University of Southern Denmark and Visiting Research Fellow at the WTI, will present on "International trade law and international investment law: avenues for addressing cross-border data flows?"

International trade law and international investment law: avenues for addressing cross-border data flows?


Data flows are at the heart of the digital economy. To what extent do international trade law and international investment law have the capacity to relevantly address issues surrounding data flows? In both fields, cross-border data flows are highlighted as a critical – and potentially dispute-triggering – matter. In part, the same envisioned dispute triggers are pointed at, namely adequacy frameworks related to protection of personal data.

A fundamental issue is that most of the relevant treaties do not address digital economy matters, and data-related matters more particularly, such as to provide clear avenues towards serving as frameworks for disputes. That concern is often directed against the legal framework of the World Trade Organization, as opposed to recent preferential trade agreements with provisions or even chapters on digital trade or e-commerce. But a debate has also emerged also about international investment agreements’ coverage of digital economy matters, notably data’s protection as an investment, and the desirability or even necessity of an adaptation of these agreements to cover those matters.

In turn, will the relevance of international trade law and international investment law depend on the extent to which “digital” disputes can be addressed under those legal frameworks as being about matters that are not specifically “digital”? That question and its relevance reflect the “pacing” challenge of legal frameworks when dealing with digital matters, but also factors related to politics, economics and technology. A connected research concern to this question of actionability is to what extent these legal frameworks are comparable bodies of norms, including their dispute settlement mechanisms.

About the speaker

Niels Lachmann is a PhD fellow at the University of Southern Denmark and a visiting fellow at World Trade Institute, Bern (February - April 2024). His project is concerned with international trade law’s and international investment law’s relevance as legal frameworks for the digital economy, with a focus on data-related matters.

Niels’ interests include also the relationship between international investment agreements, arbitration tribunal decisions, and sustainability and human rights concerns; and the use of security exceptions by World Trade Organization members, and more broadly matters of public international law.


We strongly encourage you to attend this event on-site. In case you cannot be present in person, please register here to attend online (via Zoom)https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIodOuuqD0pGdIfUd12AAEq7tb5IZlkg8FH

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