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Parliamentary Oversight of WTO Rule-Making: The Political, Normative, and Practical Contexts
Journal of International Economic Law (2004)
  • Gregory C Shaffer, Loyola University Chicago

This article addresses the issue of parliamentary oversight of WTO rule-making at the national and international levels. Parliamentarians` views of alternative mechanisms for ensuring parliamentary control of the WTO tend to vary by jurisdiction. From a positive perspective, these views reflect power structures at the national, regional, and international levels, as well as parliamentarians` experiences with supranational governance institutions. European political representatives are more accustomed to shared supranational governance institutions. They tend to propose expansion and adaptation of the EU model to address global governance challenges. US congressional representatives, in contrast, tend to be wary of how US `sovereignty` and US power can be constrained through the WTO or any other global governance regime. They tend to oppose adding a parliamentary dimension. From a normative perspective, in order to meaningfully discuss WTO accountability we need a conceptual framework that permits us to assess the tradeoffs between different mechanisms for ensuring oversight, including parliamentary oversight, of the WTO. This article adopts a comparative institutional one. The article addresses the policy arguments for and against the addition of such a parliamentary dimension to the WTO and examines some of the many institutional challenges that would arise. The article maintains that the creation of a WTO parliamentary body should be judged in terms of its impact on the participation of less powerful stakeholders and, in particular of developing countries and their constituents, relative to other institutional alternatives.

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Gregory C Shaffer. "Parliamentary Oversight of WTO Rule-Making: The Political, Normative, and Practical Contexts" Journal of International Economic Law Vol. 7 Iss. 3 (2004)
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