The Interaction between World Trade Organisation (WTO) Law and External International Law

The Constrained Openness of WTO Law (A Prologue to a Theory)

By Ronnie R.F. Yearwood

© 2012 – Routledge

240 pages

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Paperback: 9780415859561
pub: 2013-04-12
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About the Book

International legal scholarship is concerned with the fragmentation of international law into specialised legal systems such as trade, environment and human rights. Fragmentation raises questions about the inter-systemic interaction between the various specialised systems of international law. This study conceptually focuses on the interaction between World Trade Organisation (WTO) law and external international law. It introduces a legal theory of WTO law, constrained openness, as a way to understand that interaction. The idea is that WTO law, from its own internal point of view, constructs its own law. The effect is that external international law is not incorporated into WTO law wholesale, but is (re)constructed as WTO law. It follows that legal systems do not directly communicate with each other. Therefore, to influence WTO law, an indirect strategic approach is required, which recognises the functional nature of the differentiated systems of the fragmented international legal system.


'Yearwood makes his points with great intelligence, discernment and flair. A must read for those who are interested in understanding the unique position of WTO law in relation to the remainder of international law.' - Chi Carmody, Faculty of Law, University of Western Ontario

'Yearwood has made a valuable contribution to the academic debate on legal theory within WTO law.' - Barbara Cooreman, Leiden Journal of International Law

Table of Contents

1. The Fragmented Nature of International Law 2. The Inadequacy of the Professional Tool Box of Treaty Interpretation as an Account of Fragmentation 3. The Constrained Openness of WTO Law 4. The Debate on the interaction between WTO law and external international law 5. The Precautionary Principle and the WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures 6. Examples of Interaction between WTO Law and External International law 7. Conclusion

About the Author

Ronnie R. F. Yearwood, BSc., LL.M, PhD has worked for the Prime Minister’s Office (Barbados) with a special focus on the Caribbean Single Market and Economy. He has lectured in Caribbean politics and sociology in Barbados, and in law at Durham University, Newcastle University, University College London (UCL) and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.

About the Series

Routledge Research in International Economic Law

The growing integration of the world economy and resulting increases in cross-border economic exchanges has been accompanied by the rapid growth of law and regulation governing these interactions. This series presents cutting-edge research in international economic law, offering fresh perspectives on what is a fast developing field.

The series surveys the key areas of international economic law: international trade law; international investment law; international financial regulation and monetary law; and related aspects of intellectual property law. Linkages with other international legal regimes are explored such as environmental law, human rights, and public health, highlighting areas where tensions may occur between economic liberalisation, sovereignty and other concerns. Books will investigate the theory, policy and practice of international economic law from a broad range of approaches allowing for innovative and scholarly assessments of the international economic legal order.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / International / General
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / International / Economics
LAW / General
LAW / International
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / Diplomacy