The Case for a Public Interest Clause as a General Exception in Trade Agreements
4 Pages Posted: 31 May 2015
Date Written: May 29, 2015
There has been a steady accumulation of disputes occurring at the interface between international trade law and a variety of other areas of international law, particularly environmental law and human rights law. These disputes have taken place before WTO panels and the Appellate Body and have increasingly been the subject of discussion within academic, legal and policy communities. Pressure has been building on WTO Members to reconcile the requirements of free trade with the need to safeguard non-trade related aims, particularly those relating to public health, social and labour standards, human rights, food security, culture, cultural diversity and environmental protection. These are frequently referred to as the trade ‘linkage’ issues.
In order to not compromise the credibility and legitimacy of WTO law, such reconciliation requires more concerted efforts than have hitherto occurred, at both the dispute settlement and negotiating levels. Within this context, this paper presents the case for a public interest clause as a general exception in trade agreements.
Keywords: WTO, public interest, disputes, free trade, public health
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