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Redesigning the World Trade Organization for the Twenty-first Century

Edited by Debra P. Steger
Subjects Political Science, Globalization, International Relations, Business & Economics, Sustainable Development, Social Science, Development Studies, Economics
Series Studies in International Governance Hide Details
Paperback : 9781554581566, 498 pages, December 2009
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781554587957, 498 pages, May 2010

Table of contents

Table of Contents for
Redesigning the World Trade Organization for the Twenty-first Century, edited by Debra P. Steger

Foreword | Julio Lacarte Muró


List of Acronyms

Part I: Why Institutional Reform Is Necessary

Why Institutional Reform of the WTO Is Necessary | Debra Steger

Reinvigorating Debate on WTO Reform: The Contours of a Functional and Normative Approach to Analyzing the WTO System | Carolyn Deere Birkbeck

Part II: Decision-Making in the WTO

A Two-Tier Approach to WTO Decision-Making | Thomas Cottier

WTO Decision-Making: Can We Get a Little Help from the Secretariat and the Critical Mass? | Manfred Elsig

Improvements to the WTO Decision-Making Process: Lessons from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank | Alberto Alvarez-Jiménez

Part III: Internal Management of the WTO

Internal Management of the WTO: Room for Improvement | Debra Steger and Natalia Shpilkovskaya

Part IV: Transparency and Domestic Consultation

From the Periphery to the Centre? The Evolving WTO Jurisprudence on Transparency and Good Governance | Padideh Ala’i

Selective Adaptation of WTO Transparency Norms and Local Practices in China and Japan | Ljiljana Biukoviç

Domestic Politics and the Search for a New Social Purpose of Governance for the WTO: A Proposal for a Declaration on Domestic Consultation | Seema Sapra

Enhancing Business Participation in Trade Policy-Making: Lessons from China | Heng Wang

Part V: Public Participation

Options for Public Participation in the WTO: Experience from Regional Trade Agreements | Yves Bonzon

Non-Governmental Organizations and the WTO: Limits to Involvement? | Peter van den Bossche

Part VI: Regional Trade Agreements and the WTO

Accommodating Developing Countries in the WTO: From Mega-Debates to Economic Partnership Agreements | Gerhard Erasmus

Saving the WTO from the Risk of Irrelevance: The WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism as a “Common Good” for RTA Disputes | Henry Gao and Chin Leng Lim

Regional Trade Agreements and the WTO: The Gyrating Gears of Interdependence | Pablo Heidrich and Diana Tussie





Padideh Ala’i is Professor of Law at Washington College of Law, American University in Washington, D. C., where she specializes in areas of international trade law, development, and comparative legal traditions. She teaches World Trade Organization law and writes in the areas of history and free trade, international efforts to combat corruption, and trade and good governance. She received her J. D. from Harvard Law School in 1988 and was in private legal practice with the law firms of Jones Day and Reichler, Milton and Medel prior to joining the American University in 1997. From 2003 to 2005, she was the Co-Chair of the International Economic Law Group of the American Society of International Law.

Alberto Alvarez-Jiménez is a Colombian lawyer and holds a Doctor of Laws from the Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa. He is a former Research Fellow of the EDGE Network and now serves as a consultant and law professor. He has lectured in North America, Latin America, and Europe, and his articles on international trade law and foreign investment law have been published in a number of leading international journals.

Ljiljana Biuković is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of British Columbia, Canada. She teaches Contracts, European Union Law, External Relations of the European Union, and Global Law. Her current research interests are in the areas of international trade, in particular on the adaptation of international legal norms by national governments and the impact of regionalism on multilateral trade negotiations, as well as the development of European Union law. She is an Associate of the Institute for European Studies at UBC. She recently received the Farris Award to examine the interface between commercial arbitration and the courts in Canada.

Yves Bonzon is a doctoral student at the Faculty of Law, University of Lausanne in Switzerland. In 2007–08, he was a Visiting Researcher at the Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D. C., and in 2005–06 a researcher for the NCCR Trade Regulations project based at the World Trade Institute in Bern, Switzerland. He is now completing a doctoral thesis on the regulation of non-state actors’ participation in WTO decision-making.

Thomas Cottier is Managing Director of the World Trade Institute, Professor of European and International Economics Law, and Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Bern, Switzerland. He directs a national research program on trade law and policy— NCCR-Trade. He was a Visiting Professor at the Graduate Institute, Geneva, and currently teaches also at the Europa Institut Saarbrcken, Germany, and at Wuhan University, China. Professor Cottier has had a long-standing involvement in GATT/WTO activities. He served on the Swiss negotiating team of the Uruguay Round from 1986 to 1993, first as chief negotiator on dispute settlement and subsidies for Switzerland, and subsequently as chief negotiator on TRIPs. He has held several positions in the Swiss External Economic Affairs Department and was the Deputy-Director General of the Swiss Intellectual Property Office. He has also served as a panel member in a number of disputes in the WTO.

Carolyn Deere Birkbeck is the Director of the Global Trade Governance Project in the Global Economic Governance Programme, University College, Oxford. She is also a Senior Research Associate at Oxford University’s Centre for International Studies and a Resident Scholar at the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Manfred Elsig is a Senior Research Fellow at the World Trade Institute in Bern, Switzerland, and a Visiting Lecturer at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. From 1997 to 1999, he worked at the Swiss Federal Office for Foreign Economic Affairs. He later joined the Institute of Political Science of the University of Zurich and received his Ph. D. in 2002. After working as a personal advisor to the Minister of Economy in Zurich, he taught at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2004–05. His research focuses primarily on the international political economy of trade, European Union trade policy, international organizations, and private actors in global politics.

Gerhard Erasmus is an Associate with the Trade Law Centre for Southern Africa (TRALAC), in Stellenbosch, South Africa, which he founded in 2002 with the initial financial assistance of the Swiss Government. He is also Professor Emeritus at the Faculty of Law, University of Stellenbosch. He has been involved in the drafting of new constitutions in Namibia, Malawi, and South Africa and has worked on regional water law projects in southern Africa. He holds an LL. B from the University of the Free State, South Africa, a Master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Boston, Massachusetts, and an LL. D from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. He is an Advocate of the Supreme Court of South Africa and serves on the editorial boards of a number of African law journals.

Henry Gao is currently on leave from the Faculty of Law, University of Hong Kong, and is Associate Professor of Law at Singapore Management University. He has published widely on issues relating to China and WTO. He has spoken at conferences around the world and trained hundreds of government officials on WTO issues. A consultant to several national governments and international organizations, including the WTO, the World Bank, and the APEC, he is also a frequent commentator in major international media such as the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and Bloomberg.

Pablo Heidrich is Senior Researcher, Trade and Development, with the North-South Institute in Ottawa, Canada. Previously, he worked for the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) and the Latin American Trade Network (LATN) in Argentina, where his research focused on issues of regionalism, energy integration, and infrastructure. He studied political economy and public policy at the University of Southern California, focusing on the links between financial crises and trade policy in the developing world. He holds a Master’s degree in International Political Economy from the University of Tsukuba in Japan.

Julio Lacarte Muró was the first Chairman of the WTO Appellate Body and Chair of the Uruguay Round negotiations on the establishment of the WTO and the dispute settlement understanding. He was Delegate or Head Delegate to numerous international conferences, including the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, International Labour Organisation, UNCTAD, UNESCO, the Organization of American States, Latin American Free Trade Association, the River Plate Basin, Economic Commission of the United Nations for Latin America and the Caribbean, Inter-American Development Bank, Group of 77, Latin American Economic System, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, Non-Aligned Nations, UN Economic Commission for Africa, and the WTO. He has had a long and distinguished career as a diplomat, including as Uruguay’s ambassador to Argentina, Germany, Japan, and the United States, as well as ambassador to the Organization of American States, the United Nations (Geneva) and the GATT. He served as Minister of Trade and Industry in Uruguay, as well as President of the Uruguayan Chamber of Commerce and Services. He has been a frequent panellist and Chair in WTO dispute settlement proceedings as well as in disputes under NAFTA and MERCOSUR. Decorated by the governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Germany, he received the Medal of the Uruguayan Foreign Service. The author of numerous books and articles, he has also been a lecturer at the International Faculty for Comparative Law in Strasbourg as well as ORT University and Artigas Foreign Service Institute in Montevideo.

Chin Leng Lim is currently Academic Dean and Professor of Law at the Hong Kong University Law School. Following an academic career in England, he left London University’s Queen Mary & Westfield College in 1998 to join the United Nations Secretariat in Geneva, where he worked on Gulf War reparations. Subsequently, he was an international lawyer in the Singapore Attorney-Generals Chambers and counsel to the Government of Singapore in its free trade agreement negotiations. He also has been a member of the law school at the National University of Singapore.

Seema Sapra is a practising lawyer in New Delhi, India, and has several years of private practice experience, having worked in commercial law firms as well as with the office of the Attorney General of India. She works and writes on trade and WTO issues. She has served as a Visiting Fellow at the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) and was the Director of Trade and Policy at the law firm of Amarchand Mangaldas in New Delhi. She has also been a visiting fellow at the Institute of International Economic Law, Georgetown University Law Centre, Washington, D. C. Ms. Sapra is also a contributor to the “India in the WTO” blog.

Natalia Shpilkovskaya is currently Editor of the “Bridges” project at the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), Geneva. Previously, she was First Secretary--Legal Adviser in the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva (2002 to 2006). She holds an LL. B. from Moscow State Academy of Law and an LL. M. from the University of Ottawa.

Debra Steger is Professor at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, where she teaches in the fields of international trade, international investment, dispute settlement, and governance of international institutions. She is also the leader of the EDGE Network project on global economic governance. Previously, she served as the first Director of the Appellate Body Secretariat of the World Trade Organization in Geneva. Recently, she was Chair of a WTO dispute settlement panel. During the Uruguay Round, she was the Senior Negotiator for Canada on Dispute Settlement and the Establishment of the World Trade Organization as well as the Principal Counsel to the Government of Canada for all of the Uruguay Round agreements. From 1991 to 1995, she was General Counsel of the Canadian International Trade Tribunal. She serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Journal of International Economic Law, as well as in executive capacities in several international law organizations.

Diana Tussie is Head of the Department of International Relations at FLACSO/Argentina and is the founding Director of the Latin American Trade Network (LATN). She has served as junior secretary for trade negotiations in the Government of Argentina, and was a member of the International Trade Commission in Argentina. She is a current member of the Committee for Development Policy of the United Nations and serves on the editorial boards of several international journals. In 2007, she joined colleagues from Canada and India in the external evaluation of the WTO’s technical assistance program.

Peter Van den Bossche is Professor of International Economic Law, Head of the Department of International and European Law, and Academic Director of the Institute for Globalisation and International Regulation at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. He holds an LL. M. from the University of Michigan and a Ph. D. in law from the European University Institute, Florence. From 1997 to 2001, he was Counsellor in the Appellate Body Secretariat of the World Trade Organization, Geneva. In 2001, he served as Acting Director of the Appellate Body Secretariat.

Heng Wang is Associate Professor at Southwest University of Political Science and Law, China. He is a member of Executive Council of the Society of International Economic Law and of the Organizing and Selection Committee of the Asian International Economic Law Network. He has lectured at nearly 30 universities in North America and Europe, including Northwestern University, London School of Economics and Political Science, University College London, and University of Paris I. He has conducted research at the WTO Secretariat and been a Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa. Most recently, he served as a Visiting Professor at Yokohama National University.


Two high-level commissions—the Sutherland report in 2004, and the Warwick Commission report in 2007—addressed the future of the World Trade Organization and made proposals for incremental reform. This book goes further; it explains why institutional reform of the WTO is needed at this critical juncture in world history and provides innovative, practical proposals for modernizing the WTO to enable it to respond to the challenges of the twenty-first century. Contributors focus on five critical areas: transparency, decision- and rule-making procedures, internal management structures, participation by non-governmental organizations and civil society, and relationships with regional trade agreements.

Co-published with the International Development Research Centre and the Centre for International Governance Innovation


``I enjoyed reading this important book. It presents a good overview of the critical issues facing the WTO and discusses most of the recently proposed reforms of the organization. ''

- Anna Lanoska, University of Toronto Quarterly, Volume 81, number 3, Summer 2012

``Rather than simply analyzing the current functioning of the WTO, its problems and challenges, this volume is also a call to action. It lays out proposals that are likely to become a blueprint for reform of the WTO as an institution. Its contents are abundantly worthy of reflection and subsequent action. I recommend it highly to anyone who is concerned about the future of the global economy. ''

- Julio Lacarte Muró, first Chairman of the WTO Appellate Body and Chair of the UruguayRound negotiations

``This book makes a valuable contribution to a critical debate: How can the WTO fulfill its intended role as the leader in trade liberalization? Debra Steger and her colleagues bring an impressive range of knowledge and experience to the topic, examining the issues from every angle. ''

- Craig VanGrasstek, President of Washington Trade Reports

``This volume addresses the need to reform the WTO as protectionist forces mount after the economic and financial turbulence of the 2000s as as the most recent trade liberalization initiative . .. has run aground and individual countries busily cut their own bilateral trade deals. Contributors do an excellent job laying out the key issues. The book begins with the underlying rationale for WTO reform and then discusses in detail the WTO;s decision-making machinery and its internal management; the role of transparency and public participation in its workings; and the threats and opportunities caused by regional trade initiatives, which have now been around long enough to asses their efficacy. ... This is an important resource for readers interested in this crticial dimension of the global economy. ... Highly recommended. ''

- I. Walter, Choice, January 2011