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International Law

Leading Scholar on Investment, Trade & the Environment Delivers Lewis & Clark’s 2018-19 International Law Distinguished Visitor Lecture

March 11, 2019

  • Professor Donald McRae, Distinguished Visitor

On March 6, 2019, a leading authority on the law governing investment, trade and the environment—Professor Emeritus Donald M. McRae of the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law—delivered the 2018-19 International Law Distinguished Visitor Lecture.  Professor McRae is unparalleled in his breadth of expertise and accomplishments across all three of these fields, to which he has contributed richly through his prolific scholarship, his role as an advisor to multiple governments, and his service on trade and investment tribunals.  In his talk he explored the intersections among these areas and offered insights drawn from his practical experience as an adjudicator and negotiator.

Professor McRae joined the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa in 1987 where he served as Dean of the Common Law Section until 1994, held the Hyman Soloway Chair in Business and Trade Law, and taught courses including contracts, international law, international trade law, international economic law, and law of the sea.  His voluminous publications engage a wide variety of issues, including WTO law and dispute settlement, the legal regime governing the Arctic, sustainability in fisheries, and maritime delimitation.  He has represented or advised the Canadian Government in several roles, including as the country’s Chief Negotiator for Pacific Salmon Treaty, and served as counsel to the Government of New Zealand in numerous cases before the WTO.  He has also sat on a multitude of trade and investment panels, including in the high-profile NAFTA arbitration Clayton and Bilcon v. Canada.  In that case, U.S. investors brought a successful NAFTA claim in response to the Canadian government’s denial of permits for a quarry and marine terminal, in the face of staunch local opposition to the project.  Professor McRae wrote a widely-lauded dissent in that case, in which he determined that the denial of the permits was solidly grounded in Canadian law on environmental impact assessments, and in no way violated the investors’ rights under NAFTA.  He also served as a dispute settlement panel member in the WTO dispute, Brazil–Measures Affecting Retreaded Tyres. That case involved Brazil’s efforts to protect its citizens from malaria and other mosquito-borne illnesses by reducing the improper disposal of waste tires, which pool water and create habitat for mosquitos.

Professor McRae was elected to the International Law Commission in 2006, was awarded the Canadian Council on International Law’s John E. Read Medal in 2003 and made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2002.

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