Pascal Lamy, the Director General of the WTO, recently addressed an American Law School in which he asserted that the WTO is not a development institution. Of course this sentiment would have found resonance in the United States and indeed seems to reflect the received wisdom with respect to the nature of the WTO. However, it is not self evident that the WTO is not a development institution. This denial is not supported by legal analysis of the WTO mandate and its role in international economic relations.
The denial is not helpful, made as it is at a time when it is universally recognised that development is a central goal of all endeavours, and desperate efforts are being made to revive the Doha Round of trade negotiations. The denial is in fact a political assertion. Certainly there is little evidence of such a categorical denial made by his predecessor, which reinforces its political complexion. Supachai Panitchpakdi rather asserted: Trade liberalization should not be pursued for the sake of trade expansion alone, but must be made an effective vehicle with which concrete development goals can be achieved.
The fact of the matter is that the WTO is an international economic organisation set against the greater architecture of the international economic order for the development of the international economy. All international economic organisations share the fundamental goal of development and are quintessentially engaged in that endeavour. The fact that the WTO's primary competence is in the field of international trade towards that end does not negate the reality that the WTO is engaged in the enterprise of the development of the international economy; that development policy is multifaceted; and that policy instruments for the development objective are intertwined. To analogise, how different is this denial from the male in the house hold refusing to wash dishes because I am not a woman. Probably the woman in the male would not say no to washing dishes --- not to mention that the enterprise of the house is the business of both male and female members of the household. The WTO partakes, as we all do, in varying degrees, of different attributes. Pascal Lamy in his capacity of the Director General of the WTO, in effect the persona of that institution, might have said the development institution in me responds and needs to respond to development goals.
This issue of the MJIEL contains two major contributions --- one by Professor Indira Carr on international efforts on anti-corruption and the other by Dr Rohimi Shapiee on Islamic perspectives of International Economic Law. This is followed by a global annual 2006 picture of the state of play in international investment arbitration by Dr David Collins; and trade disputes by Dr Yenkong Hodu respectively. In the book review section is to be found a panoramic perspective of the publications in International Economic Law this year by Dr Kaiyan Kaikobad.
Asif H Qureshi