The principle of sovereignty over natural resources and the WTO

Switzer, Stephanie; Delimatsis, P and Reins, L, eds. (2021) The principle of sovereignty over natural resources and the WTO. In: Encyclopedia on Trade and Environmental Law. Elgar Encyclopedia of Environmental Law . Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK, pp. 136-142. ISBN 978 1 78347 697 8

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State sovereignty is a central principle of international law, with sovereignty over natural resources considered a fundamental expression of such state sovereignty. Sovereignty over natural resources is itself recognised as a principle of customary international law. There is no explicit reference to sovereignty over natural resources within the WTO-covered agreements. Nonetheless, the principle has been used as an aid to interpretation by WTO panels in two disputes; namely China – Raw Materials and China – Rare Earths. This chapter evaluates both disputes with a view to ascertaining more fully the relevance of the principle to WTO law. It further offers insights from the literature on certain of the more troubling aspects of this jurisprudence.