Theory and Theoretical Approaches to WTO Law
ABSTRACT: This article examines the role of theory in relation to the law of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and more broadly, international economic law. It posits that an absence of agreement about an underlying theory of WTO law can be traced to lack of clarity about what a ‘theory’ is as well as the fact that the current vogue for interdisciplinary approaches to law means that WTO law, in particular, is analysed through non-normative frameworks that are removed from the law’s legality. The article goes on to examine three theoretic frameworks – textual, political, and economic – that have been used to explain WTO law. The article outlines how, in each case, the theoretic framework comes up short. It then proceeds to outline an ‘integrated’ theory of WTO law based on interconnected systems of ideas about community, justice and law.