New Thinking on SDGs and International Law

About the series

In this series by emerging scholars, policy briefs address opportunities for international and domestic law, economics and policy to contribute toward achieving sustainable development across sectors. The policy briefs are therefore tailored to global economies and policy-oriented solutions in one or more of the ILRP’s core research areas of international intellectual property law, international environmental law, international economic law and international Indigenous law. The idea is to address aspects of CIGI’s research areas through the lens of international law, economics and policy, governance and sustainable development in a public policy format.

In the Series

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues to be a dangerous place for women and girls due to ongoing gender-based violence. This policy brief examines the obstacles to achieving United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 to promote "peace, justice and strong institutions" in the DRC and reduce all forms of violence. Criminal justice reforms in North Kivu, DRC, such as the implementation of the Law on Sexual Violence, have struggled because of their top-down approach that excludes local governance structures and customary chiefs in the management of local conflicts. In order to fulfill SDG 16 targets, women need to play a central role, along with local customary structures, in improving their access to justice and participation within local institutions.
This policy brief examines the lack of gender diversity in international investment and trade dispute resolution in light of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5. The primary objective of the brief is to link SDG 5 with the imperative of diversifying international adjudication bodies in the fields of trade and investment. The brief demonstrates that women continue to be under-represented as adjudicators in the fields of investment and trade, and proposes steps necessary to address persistent under-representation.
For more than a decade, there has been a lot of focus on how sustainable development relates to international investment law. The growing trend of including general and security exceptions clauses in international investment agreements (IIAs) has also been highlighted. However, the nexus between general IIAs and security exceptions and the achievement of the SDGs has not been explored. 
As part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 16 on the rule of law, Target 16.42 aims to “significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime” by 2030. This policy brief argues that tax avoidance under existing international tax rules gives rise to illicit financial flows and is hindering the sustainable development of African countries.
IP rights are often presented as a contentious issue in the development discourse. Some view strong IP rights as an obstacle to domestic development by creating barriers to the use of intangible resources on favourable terms. Others view IP rights as a means to foster growth in domestic industries, encourage innovation and protect foreign firms in high-infringement jurisdictions. These differing global perspectives on whether and, if so, how, IP rights promote development in domestic and global economies often result in policies that are either conducive to development or are challenging as development aids. The SDGs make no explicit reference to IP. However, IP is implicit in either the achievement of the SDGs as a whole, or as an aspect of specific goals, such as innovation. This policy brief deals with the relevance of the SDGs to the creation, use, protection and management of IP in developed economies. 
This policy brief discusses the challenges that could arise in building international partnerships to achieve the sustainable development goals in the specific context of external debt impacts. External, or sovereign, loans are a double-edged sword. When sustainable, they could help states with desperately needed funding for social and economic infrastructure. When unsustainable, such loans could be detrimental to sustainable socio-economic development.