The Status of Sustainable Development in the Law of the World Trade Organization
20 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2015
Date Written: November 8, 2011
Current developments in international law witness an increasing number of disputes arising out of conflicting societal values, such as the promotion of economic development versus the protection of health and the environment. Irrespective of its precise normative content, sustainable development, defined as an “interstitial norm” or a “meta-principle,” has been instrumental in resolving these disputes in a more harmonious fashion. This Article seeks to explore the role sustainable development has played in the rules and jurisprudence of the World Trade Organization (WTO). We argue that the objective of sustainable development has reshaped the interpretation of key provisions within the WTO Agreement, allowing Members more policy space to protect essential interests, such as the protection of the environment. We contend that the concept has indeed operated at the interstices of two competing priorities in WTO law, namely the right to free trade and economic development on one hand, and the right to inhibit trade in order to protect life, health and the environment on the other.
Keywords: sustainable development, WTO, dispute settlement.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation