Dispelling the Chimera of `Self-Contained Regimes` International Law and the WTO

Posted: 29 Feb 2008

See all articles by Anja Lindroos

Anja Lindroos

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Michael Mehling

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Date Written: November 2005


International lawyers have in recent years expressed much unease about the perceived fragmentation of their legal system. In truth, however, international law has always been fragmented without losing its ability to operate. A threat, rather, arises from the ongoing proliferation of special regimes endowed with strong institutional frameworks and an ability to set new international norms. This expansion begs an uncomfortable question: What if such - seemingly independent - entities were to claim autonomy and challenge the validity of general international law? A salient feature of this debate is the preoccupation with `self-contained regimes` and their status under international law. In a recent report to the International Law Commission, for instance, Martti Koskenniemi concluded that no such regime can be created outside the scope of general international law. Drawing on a particularly controversial example, this article therefore reviews the law and practice of the World Trade Organization to determine how that body has positioned itself in the debate. While its judiciary has recognized that the rules on world trade do not exist in isolation of general international law, a closer look at actual case law unveils a far more ambivalent picture. The chimera of self-contained regimes, in other words, is not easily dispelled.

Keywords: PCBs, auditory system, DPOAE, ABR

Suggested Citation

Lindroos, Anja and Mehling, Michael, Dispelling the Chimera of `Self-Contained Regimes` International Law and the WTO (November 2005). European Journal of International Law, Vol. 16, Issue 5, pp. 857-877, 2005, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=907646

Anja Lindroos (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Michael Mehling

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

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