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Law in Context

Abstract from Volume 21 (2003) Balancing Act

Beyond Doha: Clarifying the Role of the WTO in Determining Trade-Environment Disputes

Mark Harris, BA (Hons), LLB, Dip Ed (Melb), MA (History) (Monash), PhD (La Trobe), is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Law at La Trobe University, Melbourne, where he teaches in the areas of Indigenous Peoples and the Law and Environmental Law. His current fields of research include the debate surrounding the nature of water rights in both Australia and from a global context and an on-going assessment of the Aboriginal Courts programs being developed in a number of jurisdictions around Australia.

Since the WTO was established in January 1995 its dispute settle­ment mechanism has considered a range of environment-trade disputes. This article considers the argument that the jurisprudence of the WTO panel is evolving to take account of public international law measures. It argues that any expansion of the influence of the WTO dispute settlement mechanism must first establish the legitimacy of its procedures through recognition of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and clarification of the relationship between GATT measures and Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs). The recognition of MEAs will further require an indication of how the WTO will respond to the challenge of clarifying a range of environmental core concepts, such as the precautionary principle, which may be considered to be at variance with the objectives of free trade espoused by the WTO.

(2003) 21 Law in Context 307

   
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