A Solution to the Public Morals Debate in the WTO
Tae Jung Park
ABSTRACT: The Public Morals debate in the WTO can be narrowed down to the choice between moral universalism and relativism. If the WTO chooses universalism, the boundaries of the ‘public morality’ exception to trade agreements will be too constrained. However, if the WTO chooses a relativistic path, all WTO members may bring their morally motivated laws and use the morality exception as a reason to restrict trade. The WTO tribunal has no clear answer to this yet. This article borrows a conceptual framework from the philosophical debate between moral relativism and universalism and takes a contractualist approach as a proposed solution to determine the boundary of this public morality exception.