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Law and Politics of Rights: Who Decides the Conditions for Trade Preferences?: Institutional Choice in the General System of Preferences Case


Gregory Shaffer


University of California, Irvine School of Law

Yvonne Apea Mensah


International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD)


Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1008
Journal of World Trade, Vol. 39, No. 5, pp. 977-1008, December 2005

Abstract:     
The WTO case EC-Conditions for the Granting of Tariff Preferences to Developing Countries involved a challenge by India of special tariff preferences granted by the European Community (EC) to twelve developing countries in order to combat drug production and trafficking (the Drug Arrangements), resulting in decisions of a judicial panel and the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO). After providing background to the dispute and examining key ambiguities in the legal texts, we focus on three aspects of the interpretive context that are of broader concern and which have not previously been developed: first, the normative framing and how that frame may elide the larger historical and political contexts of colonialism and asymmetric power in international economic relations (sections II and III); second, the institutional choices faced by the WTO judicial decision-makers when deciding over conditions for preferences, and the implications of these choices for participation in political, judicial and market decision-making (sections IV and V); and third, the potential shaping of judicial interpretation in response to commentary from an interpretive legal community that comes predominately from North America and Europe (section VI). However hyper-technical and brilliantly legalistic our reasoning may be, our interpretation of the ambiguities of the relevant legal texts will inevitably be affected by our backgrounds and normative approaches. Our backgrounds and normative inclinations affect the framing and understanding of a case in which a WTO judicial body exercises significant power.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 34

Keywords: international law, international trade, institutional choice, trade preferences

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Date posted: January 5, 2006  

Suggested Citation

Shaffer, Gregory and Mensah, Yvonne Apea, Law and Politics of Rights: Who Decides the Conditions for Trade Preferences?: Institutional Choice in the General System of Preferences Case. Journal of World Trade, Vol. 39, No. 5, pp. 977-1008, December 2005; Journal of World Trade, Vol. 39, No. 5, pp. 977-1008, December 2005. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=871240

Contact Information

Gregory C. Shaffer (Contact Author)
University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )
401 E. Peltason
Irvine, CA 92612
United States
Yvonne Apea Mensah
International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) ( email )
International Environmental House 2
Chemin de Balexert 7
Chatelaine, Geneva, GE 1219
Switzerland
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