Unexpected Bedfellows: The GATT, the WTO and Some Democratic Rights

Forthcoming International Studies Quarterly, June 2011

57 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2010

See all articles by Susan Ariel Aaronson

Susan Ariel Aaronson

George Washington University - Elliott School of International Affairs

Mohammed Rodwan Abouharb

University College London - School of Public Policy

Date Written: November 5, 2009

Abstract

]The WTO system and democratic rights are unexpected bedfellows. The GATT/WTO requires governments to adopt policies that provide foreign products (read producers) with due process, political participation, and information rights related to trade policymaking. Because these nations also provide these rights to their citizens, a growing number of people are learning how to influence trade related policies. Since trade today encompasses many areas of governance, these same citizens may gradually transfer the skills learned from influencing trade policies to other public issues. Thus, the WTO not only empowers foreign market actors, but also citizens in repressive states. We use both qualitative and quantitative analysis to examine whether membership in the WTO over time leads to improvements in these democratic rights. Our qualitative analysis shows that these issues are discussed during accessions and trade policy reviews. Quantitative analysis examines how members of the GATT/WTO perform on these democratic rights over time. We use a cross national time series design of all countries, accounting for selection issues of why countries become members of the GATT/WTO regime. We find that longer GATT/WTO membership leads to stronger performance on our metrics for political participation, free and fair elections, and access to information.

Keywords: trade, WTO, democracy, governance, access to information

JEL Classification: F13, P16, P26, F59

Suggested Citation

Aaronson, Susan and Abouharb, Mohammed Rodwan, Unexpected Bedfellows: The GATT, the WTO and Some Democratic Rights (November 5, 2009). Forthcoming International Studies Quarterly, June 2011 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1703404

Susan Aaronson (Contact Author)

George Washington University - Elliott School of International Affairs ( email )

1957 E Street
Washington, DC 20052
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.gwu.edu/~elliott/faculty/aaronson.cfm

Mohammed Rodwan Abouharb

University College London - School of Public Policy ( email )

29/30 Tavistock Square
London, WC1H 9QU
United Kingdom

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