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date: 23 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues that the World Trade Organization (WTO) approach to sources of law is legal-positivist, non-teleological, and focused predominantly on the text of WTO covered agreements as explicitly agreed to by WTO members. This approach places heavy reliance on a de facto rule of precedent and an increasing role for non-binding instruments, with little or no reference to academic writings and a limited role for non-WTO rules of international law other than mainly procedural rules of general international law. Moreover, the WTO’s sources doctrine remains relatively traditional or mainstream. It is difficult to speak of a WTO- or trade-specific ‘deviation’ from the general rule of recognition regarding the establishment of sources. At the same time, the WTO experience does have specific features, with a more prominent role for some sources over others and some pushing of the boundaries when it comes to certain less traditional sources of international law.

Keywords: World Trade Organization (WTO), General principles of international law, Sources of international law, International trade

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