WTO Dispute Settlement Body

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The WTO Panel Ruling on the National Security Exception: Has the Panel ‘Cut’ the Baby in Half?

Recently, media attention has been captured by the unravelling trade war between the declining western hegemon and the rising eastern mega-power with other discussions, such as the reform of the WTO dispute settlement system, reflecting the points of the growing divergence between the two. Against this backdrop, the  Russia – Traffic in Transit (DS 512) dispute between Ukraine and the Russian Federation would not have attracted attention if not for one tiny detail: the Russian Federation invoked the national security exception contained in Art. XXI of the GATT. Pandora’s Box has been opened. The WTO panel found itself in a tricky situation. Amidst the severe crisis, which threatens the very existence of the WTO dispute settlement system, the panel entered murky legal terrain – adjudication of the trade measures related to national security. The national security clause had never been interpreted before - for good reason. This post is an attempt to briefly reflect upon the panel’s ruling on the contentious issue of the national security exception. I begin…

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The Reviewability of the Security Exception in GATT Article XXI in Russia – Traffic in Transit: Implications for South China Sea Investment Disputes in GATT Article XXI-type Clauses in ASEAN Regional Investment Treaties

The landmark WTO Panel Report on security exceptions in GATT Article XXI came out Friday last week in Russia - Traffic in Transit.  I have written extensively about necessity and national emergency clauses in the past - particularly to reject the position of the supposed wholesale unreviewability of these clauses in the Schmittian sense (on GATT Article…

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WTO Dispute on the US Human Rights Sanctions is Looming on the Horizon

At the turn of the year, Venezuela initiated a WTO dispute with the United States. In a nutshell, Venezuela questions WTO-consistency of a number of coercive trade-restrictive measures (economic sanctions) imposed by the United States. Some of those restrictions were allegedly imposed on the human rights grounds. US sanctions against Venezuela The…

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Justiciability of Security Exceptions in the US Steel (and other) Disputes: Some Middle-Ground Options and the Requirements of Article XXI lit. b (i)-(iii)

The US – Certain Measures on Steel and Aluminium Products case (US Steel Dispute) has aroused numerous comments in the blogosphere (see e.g. here, here, here, here, here and here) which already give a very good impression of the legal questions involved and of what is at stake at the WTO these…

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Balancing between Trade and Public Health Concerns: The Latest Step in the Plain Packaging Saga

The Australian Tobacco Plain Packaging (TPP) measures raised the classic issue of balancing between competing interests. While aiming at improve public health by putting plain packaging requirements on tobacco products, Australia revived an important debate in international economic law concerning whether international obligations have become too intrusive for the State’s policy space, asphyxiating the sovereign right…

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