14–15 November 2019: Postdoctoral Fellow Neha Mishra Presents Paper at Conference on International Economic Law and Security Interests
Postdoctoral Fellow Neha Mishra presented a paper titled ‘Unravelling the Trade—Cybersecurity Dilemma: Justifying Cybersecurity Measures in International Trade Law’ at the conference on International Economic Law and Security Interests. The conference was organised by Amsterdam Centre for International Law at the University of Amsterdam, and the European Society of International Law.
The paper is about the various measures adopted by governments to address cybersecurity-related concerns. Some of these measures restrict cross-border flows of digital services/data and are thus inconsistent with obligations in trade agreements such as General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). However, certain governments might argue that such measures are justified under the GATS security exception (art XIVbis), as they protect national security. This paper investigates whether GATS art XIVbis is relevant in justifying cybersecurity measures and its potential impact on cybersecurity governance. Ms Mishra argues that GATS art XIVbis has limited relevance and is potentially problematic, when used in justifying majority of cybersecurity measures. First, a large majority of cybersecurity measures do not fall within the limited set of exceptional circumstances listed in GATS art XIVbis. Further, in applying this exception to cybersecurity measures, WTO Panels will be unfairly forced to balance trade and security interests in an environment of political, technological and policy uncertainty. Given these practical limitations and the normative boundaries of GATS art XIVbis, countries must avoid casually relying upon security exceptions as a basis for adopting/implementing unilateral measures on cybersecurity, but rather engage in meaningful cyber-diplomacy and regulatory cooperation mechanisms to resolve their differences on cybersecurity governance.