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7 - International Human Rights Law and Dispute Settlement in the World Trade Organization

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 July 2019

Martin Scheinin
Affiliation:
European University Institute, Florence
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Summary

Much has been written about the relationship of the WTO with human rights. This chapter reexamines the role of human rights in the WTO, focusing on the dispute settlement function of the organisation. It first discribes the dispute settlement mechanism of the WTO and its role in international dispute resolution. Then it sets out the normative framework of the mechanism, pointing out that while WTO dispute settlement does not have jurisdiction over complaints of human rights violations and human rights are often assumed not to be part of its applicable law, except for jus cogens, it can use universal human rights norms in the interpretation of WTO law under the VCLT. An analysis of the practice of WTO dispute settlement shows, however, that references to human rights in substantive matters are extremely rare. This does not imply that the system is blind to the values defended by human rights, however. The system has preferred to take these considerations into account as value-based arguments in the application of WTO law itself. As to procedural law, the WTO imports human rights terminology, even though the mechanism is state to state only.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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