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Institutionalizing Public Participation in WTO Decision Making: Some Conceptual Hurdles and Avenues

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  • Yves Bonzon
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    This article assesses the potential of institutionalizing more structured mechanisms of public participation in the World Trade Organization (WTO) decision making. It begins by developing a conceptual framework that distinguishes the four 'implementation parameters' of public participation: the goal, the object, the mechanisms, and the actors. Most proposals for more formalized public participation in the WTO view it as a way to mitigate an alleged legitimacy deficit in WTO decision making. This article questions the relevance of this goal. Turning to the object of participation, the article examines the institutional structure of the WTO and points to challenges in identifying those decisions, mostly pertaining to the elimination of nontariff barriers to trade, that should be opened to public participation. 'Sensitive' decisions are mostly reached by the dispute settlement bodies, sometimes by reference to rules adopted outside the institutional framework of the WTO. It is argued that the adoption processes of these external rules are a relevant object of public participation in the WTO context. Finally, administrative review of these adoption processes by the panels and Appellate Body as a mechanism to regulate public participation is considered. , Oxford University Press.

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    Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Journal of International Economic Law.

    Volume (Year): 11 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 4 (December)
    Pages: 751-777

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    Handle: RePEc:oup:jieclw:v:11:y:2008:i:4:p:751-777
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