A History of Law and Lawyers in the GATT/WTO

image of A History of Law and Lawyers in the GATT/WTO

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.



The meaning of everything

This book is about the history and evolving role of law and lawyers in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the WTO Secretariat over time and about how their work has advanced the rule of law in multilateral trade relations. Part of that history is the role that Secretariat lawyers have played in producing and disseminating publications that help governments and the wider community understand the substantive and procedural aspects of the law. That is arguably an important objective for the legal department of any international intergovernmental organisation but especially one of an international organisation that administers a multilateral treaty that is complex and far reaching and that has been the subject of extensive interpretation. Several contributors to this book have touched upon the role of Secretariat lawyers in producing the oldest and best-known legal publication of the GATT and the WTO, the Analytical Index.1 The Analytical Index, alongside the Secretariat’s many other publications relating to substantive and procedural aspects of the law,2 promotes values commonly associated with the rule of law – including transparency and consistency in the interpretation and application of the relevant legal rules by making the interpretations given to those rules accessible to members and the wider international trade law community. This chapter briefly reviews the origin and evolution of the Analytical Index, and then highlights how the evolution of the Analytical Index reflects some aspects of the historical evolution of GATT and WTO law over time.


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