Vol. LIV No. 3

Power, Rules, and the WTO

Abstract: Using Martti Koskenniemi’s theory about international law as a starting point, this Article examines how the interpretive heritage of the World Trade Organization (WTO) constrains the interpretive options available for understanding the WTO rules. First, this Article describes Koskenniemi’s critique of international law as being in permanent conflict between visions of international law as utopia and as apology. It then examines how Koskenniemi’s theory, which was originally published before the WTO’s creation, would apply to the WTO. Finally, it concludes that, in the context of the WTO, the WTO’s interpretive culture restrains the slide between visions of utopia and apology that Koskenniemi claimed.

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