The Political Economy of International Trade Law: Essays in Honor of Robert E. Hudec

By Daniel L. M. Kennedy; James D. Southwick | Go to book overview

4
Some institutional issues presently before the WTO*
PIETER JAN KUIJPER

This contribution will concentrate on some general problems of the law of international organizations that come to the fore in the World Trade Organization (WTO), just as they do in other such organizations. In particular, there are some specific problems inherent in the structure of the WTO which deserve special attention. In connection with the structure of the WTO, there are interesting questions of the attribution of powers between the different organs of the WTO and the decision-making power of the organization in general. Connected to this are a number of issues concerning the form of WTO decisions and the powers of the Director-General, in particular in connection with agreements concluded by the organization. All these issues will be subject to a brief analysis below.


1
Overview of institutional structure and
decision-making powers

Article II of the WTO Agreement articulates the original idea that the WTO would provide a “common institutional framework for the conduct of trade relations among its Members in matters related to the agreements and associated legal instruments. ”

It could be said that the Ministerial Conference and its replacement organ, the General Council, incarnate this common institutional framework. According to Article IV:1, the Ministerial Conference shall carry out the functions1 of the WTO

____________________
*
This paper does not represent in any way the official position of the WTO Secretariat or its Legal Affairs Division. The opinions expressed are purely personal. Research assistance from Wolfram Hertel and Jennifer Morrissey as well as ideas from my colleagues Gabrielle Marceau, Reto Malacrida, and Yves Renouf are gratefully acknowledged.
1
The functions of the WTO are listed in Article III of the WTO Agreement. This Article reads as follows:

Article III Functions of the WTO

(1) The WTO shall facilitate the implementation, administration and operation, and further the objectives, of this Agreement and of the Multilateral Trade Agreements, and shall also provide the framework for the implementation, administration and operation of the Plurilateral Trade Agreements.

-81-

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