GATT/WTO, jurisprudence, textualism

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Today, the World Trade Organization (WTO) jurisprudence is subject to tremendous controversy, the WTO panels' or Appellate Body's interpretation of a WTO text is often heatedly debated; and yet, there seems not much attention paid to the general methodology of interpretation in the practice of the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT) and WTO jurisprudence, even in a recent debate over constitutionalization between Petersmann and his critics. In rejecting his human rights approach to constitutionalization, Petersmann's critics, rightfully, warn him that he has failed to appreciate the complex relations between human rights and free trade in the history of European integration and WTO. But they seem reluctant to go further and challenge the foundation of his constitutionalization arguments, i.e., his theory of adjudication. Thus, in spite of its central role in the GATT/WTO jurisprudence, the mythology about textualism remains only half challenged-that the textual approach equals "strict interpretation," and "following the letters" of the WTO agreements is a judicial virtue. What I wish to accomplish in this article is to push the critique one step further by looking into the interpretive methodologies of the GATT/WTO jurisprudence.



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