The Evolution of the World Trading System – The Legal and Institutional Context

John H. Jackson

in The Oxford Handbook of International Trade Law

Published in print January 2009 | ISBN: 9780199231928
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Law

The Evolution of the World Trading System – The Legal and Institutional Context


This article demonstrates how a human institution can change over time, often in ways not expected by its creators and how the political and geopolitical context of the institutional activity and operation will stimulate innovation and change the legal structure. This article gives an overview of the history of the most important international economic institutions, including many unique historical developments. It mentions the importance of understanding the potential of the dispute settlement procedures, including panel and Appellate Body reports, for bringing about change or evolution in the trade rules. The general agreement on tariffs and trade (GATT) dispute settlement process had a number of problems, mostly due to its flawed origins, which are described. The broad extent and growing abundance of practice and jurisprudence in the areas of international economic activity makes international economic law a worthy subject of study in connection with the broader policy.

Keywords: human institution; legal structure; jurisprudence; economic law; political context; institutional activity

Article.  10893 words. 

Subjects: Law ; International Law

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