Private Appeals to WTO Law: An Update

JOURNAL OF WORLD TRADE, Vol. 42, No. 2, pp. 245-260, 2008

20 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2012

See all articles by Marco Bronckers

Marco Bronckers

Leiden University - Leiden Law School

Date Written: January 31, 2012


At first glance there seem to be few opportunities for private parties to raise objections to government regulation based on World Trade Organization (WTO) law. The WTO still appears to be largely a forum for governments to negotiate or litigate. In fact, there are various ways in which private parties can invite governments to engage with their WTO law obligations, and these are surveyed in this article. First, I illustrate the immediate obstacles facing private parties that want to challenge a government measure on the basis of WTO law. I then take a closer look and discuss different means for private parties to appeal to WTO law, today or perhaps in the not too distant future. There have been several recent developments that suggest that such private complaints should be taken more seriously. This discussion covers the position of private parties before the WTO, before their own government and before domestic courts. To the extent I refer to experiences drawn from a domestic context I will mostly refer to European law, though I have occasion also to mention precedents from US law and Chinese law.

Keywords: private access to WTO dispute settlement, direct effect of WTO law in national courts, domestic law effect of WTO obligations, treaty-consitent interpretation, private treaty-based challenges before domestic courts, EU trade barriers regulation, amicus curiae before WTO

JEL Classification: K33, K40

Suggested Citation

Bronckers, Marco, Private Appeals to WTO Law: An Update (January 31, 2012). JOURNAL OF WORLD TRADE, Vol. 42, No. 2, pp. 245-260, 2008, Available at SSRN:

Marco Bronckers (Contact Author)

Leiden University - Leiden Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 9520
2300 RA Leiden, NL-2300RA

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