Conflict of Norms in Public International Law: How WTO Law Relates to Other Rules of International Law

Conflict of Norms in Public International Law: How WTO Law Relates to Other Rules of International Law

Conflict of Norms in Public International Law: How WTO Law Relates to Other Rules of International Law

Conflict of Norms in Public International Law: How WTO Law Relates to Other Rules of International Law

Excerpt

Certainly, international law must adapt itself to the variety of fields
with which it has to deal, as national law has done. It must also adapt
itself to local and regional requirements. Nonetheless, it must preserve
its unity and provide the players on the international stage with a
secure framework.

How should a WTO panel react when faced with the argument that an allegedly WTO inconsistent trade restriction is justified under an environmental treaty, IMF rules or customary international law? How should they react when parties make objections, claims or defences based on rules of general international law, not explicitly covered in the WTO treaty itself, such as rules on burden of proof, standing, good faith, due process, error in treaty formation or the binding nature of unilateral declarations? Those are the type of questions that gave rise to this book. They are very real and practical questions and as a legal adviser to WTO panels, I was often asked to answer them. In the US – Shrimp dispute, for example, the United States invoked a number of multilateral environmental treaties in defence of its import ban on shrimp coming from countries which, in the US view, did not sufficiently protect endangered turtles. In EC – Hormones, the European Communities claimed that their ban on hormone-treated beef, allegedly inconsistent with WTO rules for not being based on sound science, was justified with reference to the ‘precautionary principle’, a principle which, in the EC's view, was

‘The Proliferation of International Judicial Bodies: The Outlook for the International Legal Order’, Speech by His Excellency Judge Gilbert Guillaume, President of the ICJ, to the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly, 27 October 2000, p. 4, posted on the internet at http://www.icj-cij.org/icjwww/ipresscom/SPEECHES/iSpeechPresident Guillaume_SixthCommittee_20001027.htm.

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