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Protection of Endangered Species Versus Free Trade: An Overview Through the CITES-GATT Conflict
Bocconi School of Law Student-Edited Papers (2009)
  • Ishupal S. Kang
  • Charulata Chaudhary

This paper deals with one of the most visible problems of our times: the conservation and protection of the environment. Today more than ever has mankind been faced with the crude limitedness of environmental resources, vis-à-vis the increasing demands of worldwide economic growth. The authors focus specifically on the preservation of the diversity of wildlife species, and on the challenges to this goal coming from the different policy value of free trade. In particular, this conflict is chiefly embodied by two different treaties: the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

The authors initially approach the problem by providing an overview of the substantive conflicts between the two agreements, with the CITES adopting a generally ‘protectionist’ stand, as opposed to the more liberalisation-oriented provisions of the GATT, such as the Most Favoured Nation or the National Treatment clauses, to name but a few. Such conflicts may ultimately push national policies in opposite directions, undermining the achievement of either of the two goals. In order to avoid the bold prevalence of one goal over the other, ie free trade over wildlife preservation or vice versa, Ishupal S. Kang and Charulata Chaudhary come to challenge the very premise of this supposed conflict, with a view to pointing the way to a possible solution. In particular, the authors cast the question whether free trade—and the goal of economic growth more generally—really ought to be in opposition to wildlife protection and environmental preservation more generally: is environmental depletion the only way to achieve prosperity? The answer ultimately borders into politics, which is why the authors propose—as a possible solution—deeper integration of environmental concerns in the WTO framework, whose mandate exceeds the liberalisation of trade in goods, and where enough countries are represented to try and achieve a concerted solution. In sum, the WTO and the environment ought not to be two separate entities, but the achievement of more environmentally-friendly economic development schemes should be obtained by working from within what has the potential to be one of the most effective international fora on economic issues.

  • CITES,
  • GATT,
  • Us-Shrimp,
  • US-Tuna,
  • Environmental Inequality,
  • Endangered Species
Publication Date
Citation Information
Ishupal S. Kang & Charulata Chaudhary, Protection of Endangered Species Versus Free Trade: An Overview Through the CITES-GATT Conflict, Bocconi Sch. L. Student-Ed. Papers, No. 2009-10/EN (2009), forthcoming in Law & Globalization (Bocconi Sch. L. Student-Ed. Papers ed., VDM Publishing Saarbrücken 2009).