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The World Trade Organization (WTO) is at the centre of ongoing debates concerning both fragmentation of public international law and persistent inequities between developed and developing countries. It also provides one of the most active systems in the world for resolving international disputes, with jurisdiction over some of the largest and most significant matters arising today. This subject offers a sophisticated understanding of the WTO and its dispute settlement system, including a detailed analysis of the fundamental principles and jurisprudence of WTO law. The instructors are both leading scholars in WTO law and former Legal Officers with the Appellate Body Secretariat of the WTO.
Principal topics include:
- History and objectives of the WTO
- WTO dispute settlement
- Core disciplines under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (GATT 1994):
- Tariff bindings
- Non-discrimination (most-favoured nation (MFN) and national treatment)
- Prohibition on quantitative restrictions
- Exceptions to WTO commitments, eg environment, health, public morals, culture, free trade agreements, and special and differential treatment for developing countries
- The regulation of trade in services under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)
- Current challenges facing the WTO and the Doha Development Round of negotiations.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Understand the history and economic theory underlying the WTO and its predecessor, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1947 (GATT 1947)
- Be capable of critically examining the legal framework of the WTO, including the relationship between the various agreements, the relationship between the WTO agreements and other national and international laws, and the dispute settlement system
- Have an advanced understanding of the tensions that may arise between WTO objectives and other objectives in national or international law, and how these tensions may be resolved
- Be able to interpret and apply, at an advanced level, certain key WTO agreements, including advocating a particular position in a given hypothetical, potential or past case
- Be familiar with the details of some of the major WTO dispute settlement decisions regarding these WTO agreements, and be able to assess these decisions critically
- Be familiar with current issues and negotiations in the WTO
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to generate creative and critical ideas relating to international trade regulation, in the WTO and in other fora.
Last updated: 18 December 2020