A History of Law and Lawyers in the GATT/WTO

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How did a treaty that emerged in the aftermath of the Second World War, and barely survived its early years, evolve into one of the most influential organisations in international law? This unique book brings together original contributions from an unprecedented number of eminent current and former GATT and WTO staff members, including many current and former Appellate Body members, to trace the history of law and lawyers in the GATT/WTO and explore how the nature of legal work has evolved over the institution's sixty-year history. In doing so, it paints a fascinating portrait of the development of the rule of law in the multilateral trading system, and allows some of the most important personalities in GATT and WTO history to share their stories and reflect on the WTO's remarkable journey from a 'provisionally applied treaty' to an international organisation defined by its commitment to the rule of law.



Concluding remarks

Reading this book has been like enjoying a long, amiable lunch with good friends and new acquaintances. Such is the sense of familiarity and comradeship one has when reading this collection, which is surely unique in the literature on the WTO in bringing together in one place the reflections and opinions of so many eminent staff members of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the WTO as well as Appellate Body members, both past and present. The chapters in this book are united by two features or characteristics: on the one hand, a relaxed, reflective tone that allows the individual voice of each contributor to shine through; on the other hand, a serious and sometimes probing examination of the changing role of law and lawyers in the multilateral trading system, and the place of the ‘rule of law’ in the ‘pragmatic’ GATT and the WTO. Despite these convergences, the personal nature of many of the book’s chapters makes it somewhat difficult, and indeed undesirable, to find any single conclusion or ‘takeaway’ point. Having appreciated the various perspectives contained in this book, which might be compared to a symphony that is united by a series of themes and motifs, I would do the contributors an injustice were I to try to classify them under one overall message.


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