Journal Article

Producing legitimacy at the World Trade Organization: the role of expertise and legal capacity

Joseph A. Conti

in Socio-Economic Review

Published on behalf of Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics

Volume 8, issue 1, pages 131-155
Published in print January 2010 | ISSN: 1475-1461
Published online November 2009 | e-ISSN: 1475-147X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ser/mwp023
Producing legitimacy at the World Trade Organization: the role of expertise and legal capacity

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This qualitative study of disputing at the World Trade Organization (WTO) examines how expertise is acquired and maintained over time and how it influences perceptions of legitimacy held by WTO practitioners. The research demonstrates that expertise is derived from individuals' direct experience with disputing. Trade delegations employ or acquire expertise through the development of in-house experts, contracting private legal representation and seeking legal assistance. Institutionalizing expertise acquired by individuals is a primary challenge for building legal capacity and is linked to serial participation, building informal professional relationships and creating economies of scale in expert practitioners. Nonetheless, challenges remain, particularly related to the cost and difficulty of maintaining expertise over time and the role of market power in retaliation. How countries are able to gain expertise underwrites the legitimacy perceptions of practitioners, which emphasizes opportunities to acquire expertise over the persistence of inequalities in legal capacity.

Keywords: law; legalization; governance; international economic order; K33 international law; F55 international institutional arrangements; F13 trade policy; international trade organizations

Journal Article.  9772 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy ; Corporate Social Responsibility ; Welfare Economics ; Political Economy ; Economic Sociology

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