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Part I The Regulation of International Trade, Ch.6 The Influence of International Trade Law on International Law

James Crawford, Freya Baetens

From: The Oxford Handbook of International Trade Law (2e) (2nd Edition)

Edited By: Daniel Bethlehem, Donald McRae, Rodney Neufeld, Isabelle Van Damme

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 16 July 2024

Applicable law

Numerous commentators have lauded international trade law, and the WTO dispute resolution mechanism in particular, as vehicles for change in international law more generally. In the sense that new rules of international trade law enhance international law, by creating new rights and obligations for the States parties to trade agreements, it is true that international trade law develops international law generally. In preparing the Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts for example, the International Law Commission (ILC) had frequent regard to international trade law and the WTO. However, the influence of international trade law remains curtailed within the wider field of international law, outside the realm of WTO adjudication. Such influence in non-trade areas has been restricted for reasons such as its jurisdictional separateness, its limited relevance as part of the applicable law or even source of interpretation (due to the distinct or ‘sui generis’ character of trade law) and the informal hierarchy of international norms. But, there is room for non-trade-related areas of international law, and associated dispute resolution institutions, to learn from international trade law and in particular from the WTO as an institution.

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