The WTO’s objectives

“But beyond this lies a more fun­da­men­tal polit­i­cal objec­tive. The Doha Round is about renew­ing the affec­tio soci­etatis — the vows of the orig­i­nal WTO con­tract. Its two fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples being: one, that con­tri­bu­tions to more open trade be made on the basis of a mem­bers lev­el of devel­op­ment and, two, that mem­bers be bound by a set of inter­na­tion­al oblig­a­tions.”  Keynote speech at the WTO Pub­lic Forum, 2008

Do you agree that this is the objec­tive of the Doha Round or that these are the ‘fun­da­men­tal’ prin­ci­ples of WTO? My answer is: ‘No, on both counts’.

Lamy’s curi­ous latin tag—‘collectio societatis—is appar­ent­ly a term used in the French ‘Code Civ­il’ mean­ing an active, inter­est­ed, vol­un­tary col­lab­o­ra­tion, or per­haps a desire to uni­fy or even more sim­ply a ‘con­ver­gence of inter­ests’.

This is one of the most viewed entries on my web­site in 2009. I hope that it’s what you were after. But please also explore the ‘tags’ just below this sto­ry. You might find more help­ful mate­r­i­al there (espe­cial­ly in the ‘objec­tives’ tag-group).

One Comment

  • Simon Lester wrote:


    The lan­guage Lamy uses is a bit vague, but I think I agree with your view.  For exam­ple, Lamy seems to describe one of the fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples as fol­lows:  “mem­bers be bound by a set of inter­na­tion­al oblig­a­tions.”  To me, this is not a prin­ci­ple at all, but rather a means to achiev­ing cer­tain prin­ci­ples, such as non-dis­crim­i­na­tion in trade.

    I hear this kind of talk quite often, and I’m nev­er sure what to make of it.  It sug­gests to me that the speak­er is more of an “inter­na­tion­al­ist” than a “free trad­er,” in that being bound by inter­na­tion­al oblig­a­tions (any oblig­a­tions) is more impor­tant than decid­ing what the inter­na­tion­al oblig­a­tions should be.


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