The World Trade Organization and Human Rights
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The World Trade Organization and Human Rights

Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Edited by Sarah Joseph, David Kinley and Jeff Waincymer

This collection of essays from leading academics examines the connection between the World Trade Organization (WTO) and human rights issues, a topic which has provoked significant debate, particularly in the decade since the collapsed WTO talks in Seattle in 1999.
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Chapter 3: International Trade Law, Human Rights and the Customary International Law Rules on Treaty Interpretation

Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann

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3. International trade law, human rights and the customary international law rules on treaty interpretation Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann 1. ‘PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE’ IN INTERNATIONAL TRADE LAW? Similar to Article 1 of the Charter of the United Nations (‘UN’), the Preamble to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (‘VCLT’)1 prescribes that ‘disputes concerning treaties, like other international disputes, should be settled by peaceful means and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law.’ The Agreement establishing the World Trade Organization (‘WTO’)2 recognizes ‘basic principles and objectives [. . .] underlying this multilateral trading system’. Some of these principles are specified in WTO provisions, for instance in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (‘GATT’)3 and other WTO agreements on trade in goods, services and traderelated intellectual property rights. Other principles are incorporated into WTO law by reference to other international law rules, for example in the WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding (‘DSU’)4 which requires interpreting WTO law ‘in accordance with customary rules of interpretation of public international law’. These customary rules, as codified in Articles 31 to 33 VCLT, include rules and principles for textual, contextual and teleological interpretation of treaties (such as lex specialis, lex posterior, lex superior) 1 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, opened for signature 23 May 1969, 1155 UNTS 331 (entered into force 27 January 1980). 2 Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the WTO, opened for signature 15 April 1994, 1867 UNTS 3 (entered into force 1 January 1995) (‘Marrakesh Agreement’). 3 Marrakesh Agreement...

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