Trade Policy and International Legal Development
Chapter 7: Social Trade Regulations in the WTO Dispute Settlement System: Looking at the Evidence
PAST EXPERIENCES 1. There have been several cases in the history of the trade regime in which a Member of the WTO (or a Contracting Party of the GATT) has been called before the Organization’s dispute settlement mechanics on account of that Member’s use of trade instruments to pursue a social goal. There has been much written about most of these cases under the labels of ‘trade linkage’ or ‘trade & . . .’, so the following is designed to identify the basic approach of the GATT/WTO system to such uses of social trade regulation without delving too deeply into other issues the cases raise. The goal here is to set the groundwork for comparing the general international law system approach to using social trade regulations with the approach of the WTO law system. At the time of writing, the GATT and WTO cases on social trade regulations have had as their target one of four general categories of domestic laws: environmental protection legislation; measures aimed at protecting the health of humans, animals, or plants; laws to protect national culture or morals; and rules to promote development.1 Because the approach of the panels and Appellate Body varies somewhat with the category of social interest at stake, I will discuss them in these groupings rather than strictly chronologically. I note at the outset that my discussion of the final two categories of interests is more detailed than is the discussion of the environment and health categories. This is due to the relative abundance of...
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