WTO as a Self-Limited Regime: The Case of Article XX of GATT
A self-limited regime consists in a set of agreements with some governing principles and rules that do not exclude out of hand other rules of public international law. The World Trade Organization (WTO) panels and Appellate Body have insistently demonstrated the openness of the WTO to public international law. However, this openness is limited and by no means governs the WTO’s specific nature. WTO cannot work efficaciously as a closed regime, but the pursuit of further agreements to be applied is limited by a bias toward trade that runs through decisions of the WTO Dispute Settlement System. Of course, the interpretation of Article XX of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) is a sort of “filter” by which outside treaties are invoked but tensions with WTO logic are not acknowledged. As a result, consolidating suitable safeguards for plant, animal, and human life and natural resources becomes almost impossible within the WTO.
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