168 research outputs found

    Review of Dr Hassan Fartousi, A Portrait of Trade in Cultural Goods

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    This is a book review of: Dr Hassan Fartousi, A Portrait of Trade in Cultural Goods in Respect of the WTO and the UNESCO Instruments in the Contexts of Hard-Law and Soft-Law, Theses Series No. 40, Geneva: Globethics Publications, 2023. 493p. Online ISBN: 978-2-88931-529-

    Unmasking the Phantom of the Opera : Is there a Hidden Secretariat in the WTO Dispute Settlement System?

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    In their article “Who Guards the ‘Guardians of the System’? The Role of the Secretariat in WTO Dispute Settlement,” Joost Pauwelyn and Krzysztof Pelc recharacterize the World Trade Organization's Dispute Settlement System (DSS) as a sui generis administrative review system wherein the “Guardians of the System,” i.e., the Secretariat, no longer merely “assists” panels and the Appellate Body (AB) in their reports, but also exerts influence and control over adjudicators. For them “‘the guardians of the system’ may have contributed to the system's demise by the expansion of their influence.” This Essay attempts to illustrate that Pauwelyn and Pelc's fatalistic view of the DSS is overstated, by providing some comments into the practical functioning of the DSS. We argue that, first, the “guardians of the system” are also restrained by suitable accountability mechanisms in their functions relating to appointment and financial “oversight” of adjudicators. Second, while acknowledging that the Secretariat retains a much stronger institutional memory than adjudicators, we suggest that this asymmetry between the staff and adjudicators’ familiarity with World Trade Organization (WTO) law and policy is not as stark and irredeemable as painted by the authors. Rather, the Secretariat's contribution to consistency and predictability in institutional decisions is ultimately desirable. For governments who established and make use of the WTO dispute system, the balance between ensuring legal coherence and preventing over-judicialization is at the core of the DSS. The participation of diplomats as panelists and the simultaneous creation of an office of Legal Affairs within the Secretariat was intended to ensure consistency in resolution of the members’ disputes to preserve a rules-based system. Finally, we contend that there is a strong internal legitimacy to Secretariat roles. </p

    Silence in WTO

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    The World Trade Organization’s expansion in terms of its activities is becoming increasingly demanding for Members. Members may not express their acceptance or rejection to every statement or action taking place in the WTO, and they may remain silent to intentionally signify their position. This article examines the legal significance of Members’ silence in the WTO, in particular in the consensus-based decision-making procedures, in committees and council meetings, in the determination of subsequent practice when interpreting WTO provisions, schedules and practices, and in the assessment of whether or not a WTO Member has relinquished its right to initiate WTO dispute settlement proceedings. A brief description of the state of play of silence in public international law serves as a reference point to guide the analysis of silence in WTO law, which highlights the fact-specific nature of silence in both fields. While this article reveals that silence plays a role in the consensus decision-making function of the WTO, whether silence can amount to acquiescence in the context of councils and committees meetings remains unclear. Similarly, the Appellate Body has left the door open to the possibility that Members’ silence may provide evidence of subsequent practice for purposes of treaty interpretation. Contrary to international law where it has been suggested that silence may lead to a waiver of a state’s right to invoke the responsibility of another State, a relinquishment of a WTO Member’s right to initiate WTO dispute settlement proceedings must be formulated in clear and unambiguous language

    COVID-19 and international trade: The role of the WTO in fighting the pandemic and building back better

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    The COVID-19 pandemic has presented one of the most significant global challenges in recent times. Movement restrictions to contain the spread of the virus led to supply-chain disruptions and shortage of essential products and services in many parts of the world. Many countries responded with trade restrictive measures to safeguard supply of essential goods for their population. However, this was also accompanied with a growing realization that global challenges require global solutions. The WTO provided a forum for international cooperation, allowing Members to coordinate their trade policies, and discuss further steps needed to fight against the pandemic. Now, with several vaccine candidates having been approved for use, the most pressing challenge is to ensure equitable and speedy access to vaccines. The WTO has an important role in this, from ensuring that trade actions are not used to pose a barrier to affordable and good-quality vaccines, to increasing vaccine production capacities in developing countries, and strengthening vaccine supply chains for quick delivery even in remote locations

    Fragmented international law: international trade law and international environmental law

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    This contribution examines the interrelations between international trade law and international environmental law in the context of dispute settlement. It describes how the WTO dispute settlement mechanism has been dealing with environmental considerations. It also traces the different ways in which WTO adjudicators take into account environmental law, in particular in the process of interpreting WTO law

    The Role of the WTO in the Global Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic

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    The WTO and international trade have proven more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, without the delivery of food, medicines, masks and vaccines through commerce, the pandemic could not be contained. The WTO basic principles - transparency, non-discrimination, the prohibition against border restrictions, disciplines on subsidies to industrial and agriculture products, to name a few, and in particular the WTO monitoring system have helped countries collaborating and coordinating their actions to contain the pandemic and mitigate trade and global supply chain disruptions on essential goods. In addition, during this crisis, the WTO Secretariat and its Director-General assumed enhanced responsibilities to assist Members with their extraordinary needs. The WTO became the global forum for Members’ coordination of border and internal trade-related actions, for the debate on intellectual property and the request for waiving patent protections on vaccines, while playing an active role in stimulating the expansion of vaccine production capacity in developing countries. This article contends that the response of the WTO has augmented and legitimatized its role as a global governance forum

    Trade and Women - Opportunities for Women in the Framework of the World Trade Organisation

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    Empowering women is a significant step on the road towards achieving sustainable development, one the of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) main goals. Today, 124 WTO Members and Observers (representing more than 75% of world trade and two-thirds of the WTO membership) support the Buenos Aires Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment endorsed in the margins of the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference, which seeks to remove trade barriers women face and foster their economic empowerment. This Declaration has made the WTO a key contributor, and even a leader, on the issue of women’s empowerment, in support of development and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. At the same time, it is important to note that inclusive trade is, and always has been, at the heart of the WTO’s work. The paper therefore offers a preliminary analysis of the various areas of the WTO where women considerations can be used to contribute to building a more inclusive trade system, whether through the numerous provisions of the WTO covered agreements or within the ‘policy space’ that currently exists in the WTO framework. By lowering trade barriers, the WTO can help everyone to participate. Supporting the integration of women into international trade is fundamental to ensuring that everyone can reap the benefits of global trade

    From Shock, to Rescue, and Recovery: Using Efficient and Transparent Trade to Move Forward

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