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Courtesy of Corporate Europe Observatory

What are ISDS Clauses?

Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) are mechanisms in FTAs or investment treaties that provide foreign investors with the right to access an international tribunal to resolve international disputes (DFAT, 2018). ISDS are included to provide protection through protection against sovereign or political risk for investors to promote foreign direct investment (FDI). However, the controversy that arises out of ISDS is its difficulty in balancing the interests of neo-liberal corporate FDI over the economic and territorial sovereignty of states to protect the interests of its citizens (Allee et Elsig, 2015). Australians investing overseas can utilise ISDS to seek compensation if their investments have been unfairly expropriated by the government of the investee country, haven’t received the minimum standards of treatment and have been the victim of unfair discrimination. An ISDS tribunal is limited to determining the breaches of certain investment obligations on a case by case basis as mechanisms of engaging ISDS will vary accordingly with different FTAs. Before investors can claim arbitration under either The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), the ICISD Additional Facility Rules or The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) rules, they must first have the cases heard in their local courts. Arbitrations are heard by a 3-member panel who have the power to determine their own jurisdiction and these proceedings are usually confidential (Ajibo, 2018). …


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Pic: Courtesy of the Productivity Commission

Why do rules of origin (ROO) matter in Free Trade Agreements (FTA)?

As a person’s nationality confers the benefits of citizenship, ROOs determine the applicable preferential rate on the treatment of goods exported and imported between the signatories of a preferential trade agreement (PTA). ROOs are often guised as trade concessions in its intention to prevent non-members of PTAs taking advantage of preferential tariffs whilst simultaneously preventing trade deflection in the absence of external-tariff harmonisation (Cadot et Ing, 2016). However, the complexity and restrictiveness of ROOs act more like ‘non-tariff barriers’ that reduce the positive trade impacts of PTAs by approximately 66.67% (DFAT, 2018). The infamous ‘noodle bowl’ metaphor of inefficiency that cripples the current proliferation of FTAs is only exacerbated with contradictory interpretation of ROOs on the same goods and is only worsened by the increasing interdependence and fragmentation of global value add supply chains. …


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Courtesy of Village Roadshow pictures

The governance of international river basins has always been hindered by an obstructive ‘tug of war’ between a state’s right to its territorial sovereignty and the effectiveness of international water legal frameworks to ensure that common pool water resources are used ‘equitably’ and ‘reasonably’. The Mekong river is the eighth-largest river in the world and is home to more than 80 million people mostly from agrarian communities who depend on it for drinking, fishing, irrigation and transportation (Fisher, 2009). The proposed construction of hydropower infrastructure projects in the Mekong by riparian states exerts unsustainable pressure that exacerbates the already fragile nexus between energy, agriculture and water security. By focusing solely on the deficiencies within the institutional structure and legislative authority of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) as an instrument of international water law; this article proposes several reforms to improve its existing operations to enhance the water security of the riparian states that depend on the Mekong for their livelihoods. …


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Courtesy of MindTitan.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s controversial announcement of the 2016 Intellectual Property Promotion Plan sought to protect intellectual property (IP) produced by artificial intelligence (AI). Will AI generated IP unintentionally manifest a new oligarchy that favours early adopters of AI tech when conducting medical research in a manner that will grant Japanese pharmaceutical companies with asymmetric monopoly power through a first mover’s advantage? Or will it usher a utopia where legal protection of AI-generated IP enables algorithms to be able to streamline the R&D process more efficiently and discover new cures at a rate that transcends human ability? …


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Future wars will no longer be physical, they’ll be digital…Courtesy of suwalls.com

Historical context

Threats to national and global security have evolved from traditional inter-intra state warfare to incognito acts of acts of cyber-terrorism that detrimentally affect the preservation of world peace. Post-Cold-War Estonia has undergone a digital renaissance where 99% of her government services are online, allowing her to cut approximately 2 percent of its GDP in salary and expenses (Hyvarinen, Risius et Friis, 2017). However, this overreliance on digital infrastructure is a double-edged sword for Estonia as it severely enhances her vulnerability to cyber-attacks; evident during the world’s first “state-led” distributed denial of service (DDoS) cyber-attack by Russian political ‘hacktivists’ in 2007 which severely hindered Estonia’s public sector services and exacerbated the inability of existing security governance structures to address this modern threat to both state and human security (Czosseck, Ottis et Taliharm, 2011). Cyber-attacks have become cost effective weapons to undermine a state’s economic sovereignty as South Korea suffered US$867.2 million in economic damages caused by North Korean in 2013 (Shin, Lee et Kim, 2018). …


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Courtesy of Hartford Courant Pics

The TRIPS has the potential to fulfil the WHO and UNDHR’s ‘right to life’ by promoting accessibility to affordable medicines. However ever since its inception in 1994, its effectiveness as a multilateral trade instrument to promote health security in the developing world has sparked controversial debate (Love, 2007). This paper will explore how TRIPS doesn’t promote health security through its restriction of knowledge transfer in favour of promoting an oligopolistic multinational pharmaceutical industry in both developed and developing countries (Archibugi, D. & Filippetti, A. ,2010). Comparative cost advantage theory can explain why developed countries utilised the TRIPS to restrict knowledge transfer to developing countries. By referring to India’s success as a manufacturer of generic ARVs, the paper then analyses why tacit knowledge imitation is essential for developing countries to promote health security. …


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Courtesy of CageCartoon.com — Despite its divergent foreign policy goals, will the BRICS union usher in a new world order built on multi-polarity?

Despite being challenged with divergent foreign policy goals; the BRICS union will maintain its relevance because its members can leverage the non-prescriptive and non-binding nature of their union as a platform to achieve both their common and national interests. Constructivism theory can explain how the BRICS’ New Development Bank (NDB) can fulfil the common interests of its members to further develop infrastructure investment projects and provide an alternative financial system that builds upon the existing Bretton Woods institutions (Chin, 2014). Power transition theory will then explain how the BRICS members can use their union as a containment strategy against both the Global North and its own members within the group (Sharma, 2016). Finally. …


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The ‘Melbourne Dai Loong’ is a symbol of Chinese pride and resilience

The museum was silent, and the halls were empty save for a nonchalant young man and an overly dressed elderly gentleman who strode past each exhibit with tenacious pride. An aura of uncomfortable silence united these two men, who seemed to share a brief tenuous comradery that soon forced its way into precarious over politeness.

They shared similar features but were different enough to spark insensitive conversation with regards to their relations. The old man’s nose was a flatter version of the young man’s one whose skin was a fairer version of the imperial yellow coat skin that clothed his fragile oriental companion. Time seemed static at that moment when both men reflected on the sheer irony of their meeting place. …


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Rock Rehab production’s latest film: Employable Me — Day 1 of shooting — PRIMUS ad sequence. Bhasker Mehta (the gentleman with a yellow tie plays the CEO of PRIMUS)

The room was silent, nothing remained but scattered pages, half drunk coffees graced with the occasional empty pizza box. Amidst the beauty of organised chaos lay several camera lenses meticulously placed, each one reflecting the warmth of a Melbournian summer. The film was over, it was time to go home.

“That’s a wrap everyone! Shooting is over, well done team!”

I often find myself in a precarious, awkward position during the end of a film shoot. All those hours of careful planning, scavenging of resources, constructive criticism from both peers and experts leads towards this bittersweet moment and sometimes it ends so anti-climatically. …

About

Edward Wong

Film maker at Rock Rehab Productions and free lance journalist. https://www.rockrehabproductions.com/

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