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Preparing for Structural Reform in the WTO


  • Thomas Cottier


The structure and operation of the WTO have not been at the forefront of attention of negotiations ever since the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade was introduced in 1947. The modus operandi of negotiations has essentially remained unchanged despite the turn towards non-tariff barriers in complex operations of treaty-making ever since the Kennedy Round. The note argues that the evolution and introduction of the two-tier system of dispute settlement in 1995 marks the most profound structural change, but is not able on its own to deal with all of the challenges of tackling non-tariff barriers in the WTO. Today, the Organization forms part of a complex system of multilayered governance, both horizontally and vertically. It calls for more appropriate structure-substance pairings. The note addresses the need to review negotiating processes in the field of non-tariff barriers. It suggests establishing a proper balance with dispute settlement and case law, and rendering the function and role of the Secretariat of the WTO more transparent. The creation of a two-tier system is suggested, with a Consultative Committee and a Standing Committee on Legal Affairs within the WTO in order to support and initiate a long overdue structural debate in the WTO. , Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Cottier, 2007. "Preparing for Structural Reform in the WTO," Journal of International Economic Law, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(3), pages 497-508, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jieclw:v:10:y:2007:i:3:p:497-508

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    Cited by:

    1. Steve Charnovitz, "undated". "A Post-Montesquieu Analysis of the WTO," Working Papers 2010-3, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.

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