Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



Although the World Trade Organization (WTO) is one of the most significant international institutions, its function, domain, and legitimacy are still heavily contested. The Author examines the history of the founding of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the WTO's predecessor, to see what history reveals about the role that GATT was originally expected to fulfill. The Author's interpretive examination shows that GATT's founders recognized that trade policy must be internationalized in order to give one country an opportunity to participate in the policy-making of other countries; otherwise, a county can impose costs on other countries without representation from those countries. This review therefore supports the vision of the WTO as an institution of international participatory democracy; suggests that the WTO is a political, not just an economic institution; and rebuts the notion that the domain of the WTO is limited to helping countries overcome protectionist interests at home.