Commentary Type

When sovereigns clash and international rules fail: Dealing with national security at the WTO


The national security provision of the WTO is seriously flawed and needs to be revised. At one extreme, as interpreted, it gives an aggressor a claim of legitimacy for its imposing trade sanctions on its victim, and at the other extreme, it calls for an intrusiveness by dispute settlement panels in the most sensitive assessments a government can make, without restraining protectionist behavior. In a world of increasing turmoil, geopolitical and economic, the exception is likely to be invoked in ways and for purposes never intended. Maintaining that WTO dispute settlement panels have the competence to review a government's determination of what is in its "essential interests" will likely prevent the restoration of binding dispute settlement at the WTO. 

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