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Proportionality, Proximity and Environmental Labelling in WTO Law


  • Ilona Cheyne


Consumer information labelling is a vital part of modern environmental regulation, which has significant advantages over traditional command and control and market mechanism approaches. However, labelling has been accused of distorting competitive conditions by promoting discrimination between imported and domestic like products and by misleading consumers about certain types of products. The problem is qualitatively different from other types of trade dispute because labelling speaks directly to the consumer and her role within freely operating markets. The conflict has become entrenched in textual and ideological disagreements and demands a new approach that acknowledges the importance of providing consumers with information about the environmental implications of their purchasing decisions, while continuing to protect the rights of exporting WTO Members. This article explores the nature of consumer information labelling in regulatory theory and environmental law and policy, and develops an analytical framework that may help to break the current deadlock. This points towards the use of a proportionality approach with particular emphasis on the distance between consumers and the transboundary impacts of their purchasing choices. Oxford University Press 2009, all rights reserved, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Ilona Cheyne, 2009. "Proportionality, Proximity and Environmental Labelling in WTO Law," Journal of International Economic Law, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(4), pages 927-952, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jieclw:v:12:y:2009:i:4:p:927-952

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    Cited by:

    1. Robert Ackrill & Adrian Kay, 2010. "WTO Regulations and Bioenergy Sustainability Certification – Synergies and Possible Conflicts," Working Papers 2010/9, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham Business School, Economics Division.
    2. Gamborg, Christian & Anker, Helle Tegner & Sandøe, Peter, 2014. "Ethical and legal challenges in bioenergy governance: Coping with value disagreement and regulatory complexity," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 326-333.

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