MEAs in the WTO: Silence Speaks Volumes

Horn, Henrik; Mavroidis, Petros C.

This study contributes to the debate concerning the appropriate role of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) in WTO law, and in particular, in WTO dispute settlement. The distinguishing feature of the study is that it seeks to address the relationship between MEAs and WTO law in light of the reason why the parties have chosen to separate their obligations into two bodies of law without providing an explicit nexus between them. The basic conclusion is that legislators’ silence concerning this relationship should speak volumes to WTO adjudicating bodies: MEAs should not be automatically understood as imposing legally binding obligations on WTO Members. But MEAs could be used as sources of factual information, and their usefulness might extend even further, assuming certain conditions have been met.


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February 12, 2014