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Throwing One Arm around the World: Why the Failure of the World Trade Organization to Include Anti-Bribery and Corruption Targets within Its Aid for Trade Program Undermines this Program and How to Bridge These Issues


Alexandra R. Harrington


McGill University - Faculty of Law

November 11, 2008

Touro International Law Review, Forthcoming

Abstract:     
In the years before he gained prominence as an activist, the singer Bono and the group U2 released a song in which it admonished: "just like all the rest, been tryin' to throw your arms around the world." Fourteen years after the release of this song, the World Trade Organization ("WTO") began its "Aid for Trade" initiative, which aims to coordinate and monitor the many forms of aid given by donor states and organizations to partner states in order to bolster a variety of trade and trade-related sectors of the partner states' economic structure. In a sense, the Aid for Trade initiative seeks to be a break from other aid programs that are administered in an uncoordinated fashion by a variety of state, regional and international actors. The Aid for Trade initiative has solicited information from donor states, donor organizations and partner states, released information from these states and organization, as well as reports on the overall state of aid for trade, and hosted several regional meetings on the topic since its 2005 inception. And yet, among the many aid and trade issues that have been the subject of inquiry by the Aid for Trade initiative, there is a glaring and, in the author's view, fatal gap: failure to address anti-bribery and corruption measures. The goal of this article is to discuss the relationship between the Aid for Trade initiative and anti-bribery/corruption measures in order to demonstrate that, without explicitly addressing anti-bribery and corruption, the WTO Aid for Trade initiative is "just like all the rest," and indeed only attempts to throw one arm around the world of issues associated with aiding developing countries' trading and economic systems. Part II of this article provides background on the WTO's Aid for Trade initiative. It then discusses the results of a co-reporting study of cooperative states, conducted in conjunction with the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development ("OECD"). Further, this part discusses the incorporation of the Aid for Trade initiative into the aid and development strategies used by donor and partner states. It also discusses the handling of the Aid for Trade initiative in WTO Trade Policy Reviews issues since the creation of the Aid for Trade initiative and the manner in which the Aid for Trade initiative has been incorporated into international donation strategies. Part III discusses the established relationship between bribery and corruption within the aid and development assistance cycle and the inhibition of meaningful trade growth and development in partner states as a result of unaddressed bribery and corruption. It then reviews the extant international and regional conventions regarding the prevention of bribery and corruption in order to demonstrate that these conventions do not explicitly connect bribery and corruption issues with trade-related aid and development assistance. This discussion leads to Part IV, which takes the lessons of and gaps discussed in Parts II and III and proposes linking the WTO's Aid for Trade initiative with the fight against bribery and corruption. This proposal is made in order to ensure that the Aid for Trade initiative views trade-related aid and development assistance as a holistic set of forces within donor and partner states, not as a compartmentalized concept which disregards issues that necessarily touch on the possibility of achieving meaningful and lasting advances in the trade structures of partner states and their governments. Finally, Part V concludes that it is only when such a holistic view is taken that the Aid for Trade initiative can be said to be throwing both arms around the world of development and trade, and that it is not just like all the rest.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 37

JEL Classification: K33

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Date posted: November 12, 2008 ; Last revised: February 22, 2009

Suggested Citation

Harrington, Alexandra R., Throwing One Arm around the World: Why the Failure of the World Trade Organization to Include Anti-Bribery and Corruption Targets within Its Aid for Trade Program Undermines this Program and How to Bridge These Issues (November 11, 2008). Touro International Law Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1300037

Contact Information

Alexandra R. Harrington (Contact Author)
McGill University - Faculty of Law ( email )
3644 Peel Street
Montreal H3A 1W9, Quebec
Canada
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