The Management of Normative Conflict within the WTO:
A Critical Analysis of the Implications of Other Regimes
ABSTRACT: The existing WTO regime is mainly conceived through various agreements incorporating essential mandatory rules for the purpose of regulation of trade between its members. However, trade sometimes raise issues outside the realm of the WTO and transcend in the domain of other specialist regimes such as human rights and environment, which operate in the arena of public international law. Several commentators argue that the WTO’s boundaries remain impermeable by disregarding such other specialist regimes. This article offers a different perspective by highlighting that the WTO does not operate in isolation from its wider legal environment and in order to adjust with its external environment, it resorts to different strategies to accommodate other regimes through linkage. The article identifies the TRIPS and the Kimberley waiver and endorsement of international standards as examples of linkage which demonstrate that the WTO has accommodated ‘non-trade’ values furthered by other regimes. In addition, this article seeks to offer an understanding into the process of formation of such linkage with other regimes and argues that the linkage is also demonstrative of the process of adaptation occurring at the WTO.