For seventy years, the security exception in the multilateral trade regime has mostly lain dormant. The exception first appeared in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1947 (GATT 1947), before being incorporated in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (GATT 1994) upon the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO). However, security exceptions also exist in several other WTO provisions, including the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Until recently, perhaps through a combination of WTO member restraint and fortuitous circumstances, WTO panels have not had to make a definitive ruling on the meaning and scope of these exceptions. Yet, suddenly, the security exception lies at the center of multiple explosive disputes, posing a potential threat to the WTO's very existence.
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