Professor Melaku Geboye Desta (currently on leave)

Job: Professor of International Economic Law

Faculty: Business and Law

School/department: Leicester De Montfort Law School

Address: Hugh Aston Building, Room 6.71,The Gateway, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 207 8183




Personal profile

Melaku Desta joined the Leicester De Montfort Law School in September 2013 as Professor of International Economic Law. Prior to that, Melaku worked at the Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy (CEPMLP), University of Dundee, Scotland, for over twelve years. At CEPMLP, he worked as Teaching/Research Fellow (July 2001 to June 2002), Lecturer (June 2002 to September 2004), Senior Lecturer (October 2004 to September 2007), and Reader in International Economic Law (October 2007 to August 2013). During his time in Dundee, Melaku served as programme leader for the LL.M. degrees in International Business Law and Transactions (July 2001 to August 2013) and in International Dispute Resolution and Management (September 2006 to August 2013), as Director of the overall LL.M. Programme (September 2006 to September 2008), and as Director of the PhD Programme (September 2008 to August 2013). Melaku’s teaching responsibilities during this period included Fundamentals of Public International Law (induction), International Trade Law, International Arbitration, and International Dispute Settlement.

Key research outputs


  • Melaku Geboye Desta (Author), The Law of International Trade in Agricultural Products: from GATT 1947 to the WTO Agreement on Agriculture (Kluwer, April 2002) 488 pages.
  • Melaku Geboye Desta (co-ed. withJanusz Bilelecki) Electricity Trade in Europe: Review of Economic and Regulatory Challenges (Kluwer, June 2004), 350 pages.
  • Melaku Geboye Desta (co-ed. withJoseph A McMahon) A Research Handbook on the Agreement on Agriculture (Edward Elgar, January 2012). 313 pages.


Peer-reviewed journal articles

  • Melaku Geboye Desta and Moshe Hirsch, "African Countries in the World Trading System: International Trade, Domestic Institutions and the Role of International Law", 61(1) International and Comparative Law Quarterly (January 2012), pp. 127–170.
  • Melaku Geboye Desta, “OPEC Production Management Practices under WTO Law and the Antitrust Law of Non-OPEC Countries”, 28:4 Journal of Energy and Natural Resources Law (November 2010), pp. 439-463.
  • Melaku Geboye Desta, “Accession for What? An Examination of Ethiopia’s Decision to Join the WTO” 43:2 Journal of World Trade (2009), pp. 339-362.
  • Melaku Geboye Desta, “EU Sanitary Standards and Sub-Saharan African Agricultural Exports: A Case Study of the Livestock Sector in East Africa", The Berkley Electronic Press, The Law and Development Review: Vol. 1: No. 1, Article 6. (2008).
  • Melaku Geboye Desta,  “EC-ACP Economic Partnership Agreements and WTO Compatibility: An Experiment in North-South Inter-Regional Agreements?”, 43(5) Common Market Law Review (2006) pp. 1343-1379.

Research interests/expertise

Melaku's areas of research fall under three broad but interrelated subject areas: WTO and agriculture; international economic law, energy and natural resources; and international economic law and developing countries. Melaku has published widely in these areas.

Areas of teaching

  • International Law
  • International Trade Law
  • International Arbitration


  • University Diploma in Education (Distinction, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia)
  • LLB (Distinction, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia)
  • LLM (Magna cum Laude, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium)
  • PhD (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium)

Honours and awards

Willoughbi Prize (2003): for the best article of the year published in the Journal of Energy and Natural Resources Law (“The GATT/WTO System and International Trade in Petroleum”, JENRL, Vol. 24, No. 4, Nov. 2003), and also for leading the special issue of JENRL on international energy trade.

Membership of professional associations and societies

  • American Society of International Law: Member (since 2001)
  • Society for International Economic Law (SIEL): Founding Member (2008) and founding executive committee member (2008-2010)
  • International Law Association (ILA): member and contributing member of the study group on the role of soft law in international investment law (since 2010)
  • Society of Legal Scholars: Member (since 2010)

Conference attendance

  • Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires – Argentina, ‘China – Africa trade-investment links: international economic law perspectives’, presented at the conference on China’s New Development Model: Impacts on Africa and Latin America (March 25 - 26, 2014 Facultad de Ciencias Económicas)
  • UCD Sutherland School of Law, University College Dublin, Ireland, ‘The Common Agricultural Policy: Contributing towards the Millennium Development Goal on the Reduction of Hunger?’, paper presented at the 17th Annual Irish European Law Forum - The CAP in 2020: The Future of the Policy? (13-14 March 2014)
  • Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, “Sovereignty over Natural Resources and International Investment Law”, presented at the Frankfurt Investment Law Workshop on the theme of “International Investment Law and Development: Friends or Foes?” (March 2013);
  • University of Albany (New York), “Agriculture in African Regional Integration”, presented at a Conference on Africa and International Law (April 2012), organized by the University of Albany and the Africa Interest Group of the American Society of International Law;
  • The Nordic Africa Institute, “Regional integration in Africa: the agriculture and commodities dimension” presented at the European Conference on African Studies (June 2011, Upsala, Sweden);
  • University of Vienna, presenting on “GATT/WTO Law and international standards: an example of soft law instruments hardening up?” to ILA Study Group on the Role of Soft Law in International Investment Law (4 March 2011);
  • Society of International Economic Law, SIEL Second Annual Conference, (Barcelona, Spain, July 2010), commentator on three presentations on the subject of international trade law and food security;
  • World Trade Institute, University of Berne, Switzerland, “International Trade in Biofuels: Legal and Policy Issues”, presented at the World Trade Forum 2007: International Trade on a Warming Globe (2007);
  • World Trade Institute, University of Berne, Switzerland, seminar on Energy and WTO Law, 17 November 2006, presenting on  “The Role of the WTO in the Energy Security Debate: Energy products and WTO Law”.
  • International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) experts workshop, “The Geneva Dialogue: Exploring Synergies between Energy Standards, Climate Change and International Trade” (organized by ICTSD, 27 Sep. 2006) participating as a discussant on “The WTO Rules and Agreements and their Relevance to the Energy Sector”.
  • International Law Association British Branch 2005 Spring Conference on “Regional Trade Agreements and the WTO Legal System” (Royal Society of Edinburgh, 27-28 May 2005), presenting on “EU-ACP Economic Partnership Agreements and the Question of WTO Compatibility”.
  • Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) Conference on “Sustainable Development in the WTO”, 23 February 2004, presenting on “Agriculture in the Development Round”.
  • Academy of European Law conference on “Legal Issues of Agricultural Trade” (Brussels 22 October 2003) presenting on “The Agreement on Agriculture, GATT and the Modalities”.

Recent research outputs


Consultancy work

I have provided consultancy and advisory services to law firms, and over a dozen national governments and international organizations on issues of international economic law and policy.

Current research students

Melaku has supervised over a dozen PhD students working in the areas of international trade law, international investment law and international dispute settlement, often focusing particularly on the natural resources industry, including mining, energy and oil and gas. Melaku welcomes qualified candidates interested to research in these areas at PhD level.

Professional esteem indicators

  • Served, as a member of the editorial board for the Law and Development Review and the Journal of International Dispute Settlement (2009-2013), as Corresponding Editor of the International Legal Materials (since 2003) and as Special Issue Editor for the Journal of Energy and Natural Resources Law dedicated to issues of international energy trade (Vol. 24, No. 4, 2003)
  • Appointed as arbitrator in international disputes submitted to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague, and at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Paris.
  • Increasingly serves as referee and peer reviewer for book proposals submitted to publishers (including the Oxford University Press, the Cambridge University Press, Edward Elgar, and Routledge) and for articles submitted to journals including the Journal of World Trade, the Environmental Law Review, the World Trade Review, the Journal of Energy and Natural Resources Law, the Natural Resources Journal, the International and Comparative Law Quarterly, etc.