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WTO 2002: imaginary crisis, real problems

Henderson, David (2002) WTO 2002: imaginary crisis, real problems. World Trade Review, 1 (3). pp. 277-296. ISSN 1474-7456

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1474745602001246


This article contests the view advanced by Daniel Esty in World Trade Review, that the WTO is now facing ‘a crisis of legitimacy’, for which the remedy is to create for it ‘links with popular sovereignty’, to broaden its objectives and concerns, and to establish it as part of a stronger system of ‘global governance’. I argue that the legitimacy of an international agency derives first and foremost from its member governments; that democratic legitimacy and ‘popular sovereignty’ do not necessarily go together; that non-governmental organizations have no valid claim in their own right to participate in the activities of international agencies; that bringing these organizations into the WTO would weaken and divide it; that governments, in handling and deciding trade matters, already take account of wider issues and goals and are not uncritically committed to freer trade; that it is still appropriate to limit the concerns of the WTO to questions relating to trade and trade liberalization; that globalization has neither undermined the power and competence of national states nor given rise to a need for new forms of global governance; and that the WTO, despite its now more secure status and enlarged scope as compared with the GATT, is for good reasons neither a powerful instrument of global governance nor in course of becoming so. While the Organization has no ‘legitimacy crisis’, it faces substantial problems both old and new. Its potential for useful activity largely depends, as in the past, on the readiness of its member governments to defend and pursue the goal of freer trade.

Item Type:Article
Research Community:University of Westminster > Westminster Business School
ID Code:2767
Deposited On:06 Dec 2006
Last Modified:07 Apr 2008 14:29

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