A ‘Latin American approach’ to International Economic Law?: Reconciling trade liberalisation and investment protection with the safeguard of public interest

Traditionally, Latin American countries have combined their efforts to create customs unions and look-like free trade areas with the pursuit of other societal values, traditionally related to social aspects (labour issues) and the safeguard of human rights and, more recently, environmental protection. All these agreements together make understanding the dynamics of trade and regional integration in Latin America vital to understanding the current context in which International Economic Law (IEL) operates within the region. This paper examines the basic rules and principles of IEL which are applied in the Latin American context so as to show how there might be a specific Latin American approach to IEL. Though Latin American countries have traditionally been considered to be the ‘rebels without (or perhaps with) a cause’, this rebel nature has also opened the door for further change and innovation when it comes to International Economic Law.