Handbook on Global Constitutionalism
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Handbook on Global Constitutionalism

Edited by Anthony F. Lang and Antje Wiener

This Handbook introduces scholars and students to the history, philosophy, and evidence of global constitutionalism. Contributors provide their insights from law, politics, international relations, philosophy, and history, drawing on diverse frameworks and empirical data sets. Across them all, however, is a recognition that the international order cannot be understood without an understanding of constitutional theory. The Handbook will define this field of inquiry for the next generation by bringing together some of the leading contemporary scholars.
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Chapter 30: Global commercial constitutionalization: the World Trade Organization

Joel P. Trachtman


The World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) commercial constitution contains a detailed set of rules limiting the ability of sub-units to restrict trade and even to promote trade. In addition, this commercial constitution has special rules for decision-making, as well as extraordinary capacity for inter-state adjudication. However, its capacity for inter-state adjudication has important limits, including very limited capacity to apply non-WTO international law, such as environmental, labour, or human rights law. This chapter describes the components of the global commercial constitution represented by the WTO, and suggest the reasons why they exist.

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