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Are Non-trade Values Adequately Protected under GATT Art. XX?

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The role of WTO in balancing of fair and transparent terms of trade with non-trade values has been widely discussed by politicians, academics, human rights organizations and environmental groups. Indeed, only one of more than twenty lawsuits justifying the application of measures under Art. XX has ended in a victory. The essay examines to what extent social values can be protected under law of WTO. For these purposes the main characteristics of GATT 1994, such as limitations and conditions for exceptions, aproper balance of provisions of Art. XX and their independence from other exceptions in GATT 1994 are considered as well scope of its application for such non-trade values as public morals; human, animal or plant life or health; exhaustible natural resources and national legislation. The most indicative cases of the WTO dispute settlement system are analysed to extract the practical value of exceptions under Art. XX. Emphasis on human rights and compliance with the rules of international environmental law is determined by their particular importance for developing states which are not sufficiently influential in the global economy. The author argues that, despite very limited list of exceptions, provisions of Art. XX GATT 1994 are consistent with the goals of the WTO and allow to provide the effective protection for common human and social values.

About the Author

Natalya Mosunova
Adecco Group Russia
Russian Federation
Head of Legal Department, Adecco Group Russia (2/3 Paveletskaya sq., Moscow, 115054, Russia)


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For citation:

Mosunova N. Are Non-trade Values Adequately Protected under GATT Art. XX? Russian Law Journal. 2014;2(2):101-113.

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ISSN 2309-8678 (Print)
ISSN 2312-3605 (Online)