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The World Trade Constitution

John O. McGinnis

Northwestern University - School of Law

Mark L. Movsesian

St. John's University School of Law

Harvard Law Review, Vol. 114, 2001

Conventional wisdom holds that the World Trade Organization (WTO) necessarily poses a threat to sovereignty and representative government within its member nations. Professors McGinnis and Movsesian refute this view. They argue that the WTO can be understood as a constitutive structure that, by reducing the power of protectionist interest groups, can simultaneously promote international trade and domestic democracy. Indeed, in promoting both free trade and accountable government, the WTO reflects many of the insights that inform our own Madisonian Constitution. Professors McGinnis and Movsesian reject recent proposals to grant the WTO regulatory authority, endorsing instead the WTO's limited adjudicative power as the better means to resolve the difficult problem of covert protectionism. They develop a series of procedure-oriented tests that would permit WTO tribunals to invalidate covert protectionism without supplanting national judgments on labor, environmental, health, and safety policies. Finally, they demonstrate that the WTO's emerging approach to the problem of covert protectionism largely comports with the democracy-reinforcing jurisprudence they recommend, and they offer some suggestions for reforms that would help prevent the organization from going astray in the future.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 162

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Date posted: June 21, 2001  

Suggested Citation

McGinnis, John O. and Movsesian, Mark L., The World Trade Constitution. Harvard Law Review, Vol. 114, 2001. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=274520 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.274520

Contact Information

John McGinnis (Contact Author)
Northwestern University - School of Law ( email )
375 E. Chicago Ave
Unit 1505
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-503-3235 (Phone)
Mark L. Movsesian
St. John's University School of Law ( email )
8000 Utopia Parkway
Jamaica, NY 11439
United States
718-990-5650 (Phone)
718-990-2199 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.stjohns.edu/academics/graduate/law/faculty/profiles/Movsesian
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