The case study: the law of the World
We can sit down and look at the realistic possibility of making the
WTO work for the whole world. We should be realistic. We shouldn't
be kidding ourselves that the WTO is all right at the moment. It's not
In this chapter, we make a first attempt to posit WTO law in the wider context of public international law. The sources of WTO law are summed up and some of the special features of WTO law, of particular importance to conflict of norms, are examined.
For WTO law to be a relevant example in this study on conflict of norms in public international law, it should be established first that WTO law is, indeed, part of public international law.
With one possible exception, no academic author, WTO decision or document disputes that WTO rules are part of the wider corpus of public international law.2 Like international environmental law and human
1 Supacha Panitchpakdi (WTO Director-General as of September 2002), ‘Keynote Address: The Evolving Multilateral Trade System in the New Millennium’(2001) 33 George Washington International Law Review 419 at 432.
2 See John Jackson, The World Trading System (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1997), p. 25; Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann, ‘Dispute Settlement in International Economic Law – Lessons for Strengthening International Dispute Settlement in Non-Economic Areas’(1999) 2 JIEL 189; Donald McRae, ‘The WTO in International Law: Tradition Continued or New Frontier?’(2000) 3 JIEL 27 and ‘The Contribution of International Trade Law to the Development of International Law’(1996) 260 Recueil des Cours 111. For earlier sources confirming that GATT was no more than a specialised branch of public international law, see: Georg Schwarzenberger, ‘The Principles and Standards of International