Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

In the Shadow of Law or Power? Consensus-Based Bargaining and Outcomes in the GATT/WTO

Abstract

This article explains how consensus decision making has operated in practice in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade/World Trade Organization (GATT/WTO). When GATT/WTO bargaining is law-based, consensus outcomes are Pareto-improving and roughly symmetrical. When bargaining is power-based, states bring to bear instruments of power that are extrinsic to rules, invisibly weighting the process and generating consensus outcomes that are asymmetrical and may not be Pareto-improving. Empirical analysis shows that although trade rounds have been launched through law-based bargaining, hard law is generated when a round is closed, and rounds have been closed through power-based bargaining. Agenda setting has taken place in the shadow of that power and has been dominated by the European Community and the United States. The decision making rules have been maintained because they help generate information used by powerful states in the agenda-setting process. Consensus decision making at the GATT/WTO is organized hypocrisy, allowing adherence to the instrumental reality of asymmetrical power and the sovereign equality principle upon which consensus decision making is purportedly based.

Copyright
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Kenneth W. Abbott , Robert O. Keohane , Andrew Moravscik , Anne-Marie Slaughter , and Duncan Snidal . 2000. The Concept of Legalization. International Organization 54 (3):401–20.

Kenneth W. Abbott , and Duncan Snidal . 2000. Hard Law and Soft Law in International Governance. International Organization 54 (3):421–56.

Robert Axelrod , and Robert O. Keohane . 1985. Achieving Cooperation Under Anarchy: Strategies and Institutions. World Politics 38 (1):226–54.

David Baron , and John Ferejohn . 1989. Bargaining in Legislatures. American Political Science Review 83:11811206.

Thomas Bernauer . 1995. The Effect of International Environmental Institutions: How We Might Learn More. International Organization 49 (2):351–77.

Stephen J. Brams , and Paul J. Affuso . 1985. New Paradoxes of Voting Power in the EC Council of Ministers. Electoral Studies 4 (August):135–39.

Hedley Bull . 1977. The Anarchical Society. New York: Columbia University Press.

Barry Buzan . 1981. Negotiating By Consensus: Developments in Technique at the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea. American Journal of International Law 75:324–48.

Evan Caminker . 1999. Sincere and Strategic Voting Norms on Multi-member Courts. Michigan Law Review 97: 22972380.

David D. Caron 1993. The Legitimacy of the Collective Authority of the Security Council. American Journal of International Law 87:552–88.

Kevin M. Clermont , and Theodore Eisenberg . 1996. Xenophilia in American Courts. Harvard Law Review 109:1120–43.

Benjamin J. Cohen 1985. International Debt and Linkage Strategies: Some Foreign Policy Implications for the United States. International Organization 39(4):699727.

Edwin DeWitt Dickinson . 1920. The Equality of States in International Law. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

George W. Downs , David M. Rocke , and Peter N. Barsoom . 1998. Managing the Evolution of Multilateralism. International Organization 52 (2):397420.

J. Michael Finger , Ulrich Reincke , and Adriana Castro . 1999. Market Access Bargaining in the Uruguay Round: Rigid or Relaxed Reciprocity? World Bank Paper No. 2258. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank.

J. Michael Finger , and Philip Schuler . 1999. Implementation of the Uruguay Round Commitments: The Development Challenge. World Bank Working Paper No. 2215. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank.

Roger Fisher , William Ury , and Bruce Patton . 1991. Getting to Yes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Geoffrey Garrett , and George Tsebelis . 1996. An Institutional Critique of Intergovernmentalism. International Organization 50 (2):269300.

Robert Gilpin . 1981. War and Change in World Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Joseph Gold . 1972. Voting and Decisions in the International Monetary Fund: An Essay on the Law and Practice of the Fund. Washington, D.C.: International Monetary Fund.

Judith Goldstein , and Lisa Martin . 2000. Legalization, Trade Liberalization, and Domestic Politics: A Cautionary Note. International Organization 54 (3):603–32.

Ernst B. Haas 1980. Why Collaborate?: Issue-Linkage and International Regimes. World Politics 32(3):357405.

Peter M. Haas 1989. Do Regimes Matter? Epistemic Communities and Mediterranean Pollution Control. International Organization 43 (3):377405.

Bernard M. Hoekman 1989. Determining the Need for Issue Linkages in Multilateral Trade Negotiations. International Organization 43 (4):693714.

Madeleine O. Hosli 1993. The Admission of the European Free Trade Association to the European Community. International Organization 47 (4):629–43.

R. J. Johnston 1995. The Conflict Over Qualified Majority Voting In the European Council of Ministers: An Analysis of the U.K. Negotiating Stance Using Power Indices. British Journal of Political Science 25 (2):245–55.

Charles W. Kegley Jr and Steven W. Hook . 1991. U.S. Foreign Aid and U.N. Voting: Did Reagan's Linkage Strategy Buy Deference or Defiance? International Studies Quarterly 35 (3):295312.

Hans Kelson . 1944. The Principle of Sovereign Equality of States as a Basis for International Organization. Yale Law Journal 53 (2):207–20.

Barbara Koremenos , Charles Lipson , and Duncan Snidal . 2001. The Rational Design of International Institutions. International Organization 55 (4):761–99.

Stephen D. Krasner 1976. State Power and the Structure of International Trade. World Politics 28 (3):317–47.

Imre Lakatos . 1970. Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programs. In Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge, edited by Imre Lakatos and Alan Musgrave , 91196. London: Cambridge University Press.

I. C. MacGibbon 1958. Estoppel in International Law. International and Comparative Law Quarterly 7:468513.

Catherine Senf Manno . 1966. Selective Weighted Voting in the UN General Assembly. International Organization 20 (1):3762.

Lisa L. Martin 1993. International and Domestic Institutions in the EMU Process. Economics and Politics 5 (July):125–44.

Lisa L. Martin , and Beth Simmons . 1998. Theories and Empirical Studies of International Institutions. International Organization 52 (4):729–58.

Elizabeth McIntyre . 1954. Weighted Voting in International Organizations. International Organization 8 (4):484–97.

John W. Meyer , John Boli , George M. Thomas , and Francisco O. Ramirez . 1997. World Society and the Nation-State. American Journal of Sociology 103 (1):144–81.

Helen V. Milner 1998. Rationalizing Politics: The Emerging Synthesis of International, American, and Comparative Politics. International Organization 52 (4):759–86.

Robert H. Mnookin , and Lewis Kornhauser . 1979. Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law: The Case of Divorce. Yale Law Journal 88:950–97.

Hans Morgenthau . 1940. Positivism, Functionalism, and International Law. American Journal of International Law 34:260–84.

John Odell . 2002. The Seattle Impasse and Its Implications for the World Trade Organization. In The Political-Economy of International Trade Law: Essays in Honor of Robert E. Hudec, edited by Daniel L. M. Kennedy and James D. Southwick . London: Cambridge University Press.

Amelia Porges . 1995. The New Dispute Settlement: From the GATT to the WTO. Leiden Journal of International Law 8 (1):132.

Robert Putnam . 1988. Diplomacy and Domestic Politics: The Logic of Two-Level Games. International Organization 42 (3):427–60.

Kul B. Rai 1980. Foreign Aid and Voting in the U.N. General Assembly, 1967–76. Journal of Peace Research 17 (3):269–77.

Kal. Raustiala 1997. States, NGOs and International Environmental Institutions. International Studies Quarterly 41 (4):719–40.

Peter Pavel Remec . 1960. The Position of the Individual in International Law According to Grotius and Vattel. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.

L. S. Shapley , and Martin Shubik . 1954. A Method for Evaluating the Distribution of Power in a Committee System. American Political Science Review 48 (3):787–92.

Georg Schwarzenberger . 1957. International Law. London: Stevens.

Kathryn Sikkink . 1993. Human Rights, Principled Issue-Networks, and Sovereignty in Latin America. International Organization 47 (3):411–41.

Bruno Simma , and Andreas L. Paulus . 1999. The Responsibility of Individuals for Human Rights Abuses in Internal Conflicts: A Positivist View. American Journal of International Law 93:302–16.

Louis Sohn . 1975. Voting Procedures in U.N. Conferences for the Codification of International Law. American Journal of International Law 69:310–53.

George Tsebelis . 1994. The Power of the European Parliament as a Conditional Agenda-Setter. American Political Science Review 88 (1):128–40.

T. Y. Wang 1999. U.S. Foreign Aid and UN Voting: An Analysis of Important Issues. International Studies Quarterly 43 (1):199210.

Joseph Weiler . 1982. Community, Member States, and European Integration: Is the Law Relevant? Journal of Common Market Studies 21 (192):3956.

Alexander Wendt . 1999. Social Theory of International Politics. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Burns H. Weston 1991. Security Council Resolution 678 and Persian Gulf Decision Making: Precarious Legitimacy. American Journal of International Law 85:516–35.

Stephen Zamora . 1980. Voting in International Economic Organizations. American Journal of International Law 74:566608.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

International Organization
  • ISSN: 0020-8183
  • EISSN: 1531-5088
  • URL: /core/journals/international-organization
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score