Human Rights, Constitutional Justice and International Economic Adjudication: Legal Methodology Problems

35 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2018

See all articles by Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann

Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann

European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW)

Date Written: 2018


International economic law (IEL) developed since ancient times based on private and public, national and transnational regulation of economic transactions and related economic policies. International human rights law (HRL) emerged only in the 20th century based on different (e.g. deontological rather than utilitarian) rationalities; it continues to be developed by different international fora, but depends on economic law for generating economic goods and services necessary for protecting human rights. Section I discusses the increasing ‘constitutionalization’ of HRL and IEL at national and regional levels of governance and its implications for the settlement of trade and investment disputes. Section 2 discusses ‘constitutional justice principles’ as legal basis for impartial third-party adjudication requiring ‘judicial administration of justice’ and treaty interpretations ‘in conformity with the principles of justice’ and human rights accepted by all UN member states. Section 3 elaborates in more detail problems of ‘systemic interpretation’ and ‘constitutional interpretation’ in IEL. Section 4 gives an overview of procedural human rights dimensions in IEL adjudication, like the human right of access to justice and the emerging common law of transnational adjudication. Section 5 discusses procedural and substantive human rights problems in WTO and investment adjudication. Section 6 criticizes trade and investment adjudication for neglecting HRL and constitutional, distributive, corrective and commutative justice principles.

Keywords: Constitutionalism; Economic adjudication; Human rights; Investment law; Trade law

Suggested Citation

Petersmann, Ernst-Ulrich, Human Rights, Constitutional Justice and International Economic Adjudication: Legal Methodology Problems (2018). EUI Department of Law Research Paper No. 2018/18, Available at SSRN: or

Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann (Contact Author)

European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW) ( email )

Via Bolognese 156 (Villa Salviati)
50-139 Firenze

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