Who is Accountable at the World Trade Organization?

Posted: 22 Jan 2012

See all articles by Robert Wolfe

Robert Wolfe

Queen's University - School of Policy Studies

Date Written: December 21, 2011


This paper takes the importance of asking about accountability for granted, and looks only at the WTO. The immediate objective is to ask who might be accountable at WTO, which requires considering what sort of entity WTO is, in the next section, and then extending an analytic framework developed by Jerry Mashaw to uncover the various possible accountability mechanisms, in the subsequent section. Seen in this analytic framework, WTO has numerous “accountability regimes," which creates a polycentric problem because the regimes overlap and conflict, not least because each matters to a different set of stakeholders. The paper concludes by suggesting that WTO might face an accountability trilemma: efforts to enhance one aspect of accountability might undermine others.

Keywords: WTO, accountability, transparency

Suggested Citation

Wolfe, Robert, Who is Accountable at the World Trade Organization? (December 21, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1989438 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1989438

Robert Wolfe (Contact Author)

Queen's University - School of Policy Studies ( email )

Ontario K7L 3N6

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