WTO Law and Human Rights: Bringing Together Two Autopoietic Orders

63 Pages Posted: 22 Oct 2010 Last revised: 27 Dec 2010

Date Written: October 21, 2010


In comparison to GATT law, WTO law is characterized by a notably expanded coverage. Since its inception in 1995, its material density and reach has been further extended. It was only a question of time until the demand would come up for this branch of law to fulfil objectives laying outside the traditional borders of International Economic Law. In particular, it was recognized that WTO law touches in many way upon human rights issues. Vigorous claims were made to transform the WTO order into a human rights organization. Some authors were of the opinion that human rights law could be integrated into WTO law via the interpretative rules of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. This contribution tries to evidence that such attempts are inherently flawed. There is no possibility and not even a perceptible need to transform the WTO system into a human rights instrument. After examining the many areas of interaction between Human Rights Law and International Economic Law it is evidenced that the many common ends of each branch of International Law are best served if both masses of law are mutually coordinated but at the same time maintain their autopoietic nature. At the same time this is to demonstrate that fragmentation as a so-called problem of International Law is overrated.

Keywords: WTO Law, Human Rights Law, International Economic Law, Fragmentation, Development Cooperation, Conditionality, Sanctions

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Hilpold, Peter, WTO Law and Human Rights: Bringing Together Two Autopoietic Orders (October 21, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1695505 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1695505

Peter Hilpold (Contact Author)

University of Innsbruck ( email )

Innrain 52
Innsbruck, Innsbruck 6020

HOME PAGE: http://www.peterhilpold.com

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