The concern with non-concerns: for the end of trade dystopia

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Today’s trade involves all aspects of human life and challenges States sovereignty as much as it offers opportunities for growth and development. It is governed by norms of quasi-universal nature largely adopted and furthered during the past 70 years of existence of the GATT and its institutionalised successor, the WTO.

But what trade rules are we talking about? The law “as it is”? Is a purely positivist approach to trade law relevant while there is much more to trade than trade? What sort of international society does this technical trade law contribute to create or maintain? Far from the United Nations utopia for peace, trade law is fuelling a dystopia of unequals as conducive to the development of conflicts as it is prone to solve their technicalities on the basis of a long celebrated and now moribund Appellate Body.

The Dystopia created under the pressure of financial globalisation and justifying the existence of parallel international law regimes is not yet to end if trade lawyers refuse to question the nature of trade law and keep referring to what is not “mainstream” as “Non-Trade Concerns” (NTC). Written against the backdrop of an interrogation on the utopian/dystopian nature of the WTO regime, this short piece proposes to critically address the concern with “non-trade concerns” (1) and sketches the basis lines for possible change in calling for a political approach to international trade law (2).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Post-WTO International Legal Order
EditorsMeredith Kolsky Lewis, Junji Nakagawa, Rostam J. Neuwirth, Colin B. Picker, Peter-Tobias Stoll
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-45428-9
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-45427-2
Publication statusEarly online - 17 Jun 2020


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