Research Handbooks on the WTO series
Edited by Geert Van Calster and Denise Prévost
Chapter 7: Trade, environment and animal welfare: conditioning trade in goods and services on conduct in another country?
When States deem international protection of the environment or animal welfare insufficient, they may unilaterally seek to promote those interests through trade measures. States may, for example, prohibit the import of fur and skins derived from animals that are skinned alive, even though no fully global international or multilateral treaty outlaws these practices. Such trade measures must be in conformity with WTO2 law, which consists largely of negative obligations on how not to restrict trade, rather than positive rules that directly regulate the environment or animal welfare. Measures to protect the environment or animal welfare that impose trade restrictions may therefore violate a substantive obligation under WTO law and hence need to be justified in order to be WTO consistent.
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