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John Jackson and the GATT's Transformation



John Jackson's long, fruitful association with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was unique in the annals of international organizations. His 1969 book, World Trade and the Law of GATT, became the Baedeker for government officials, practitioners, and academics seeking an overall understanding of the trading system or an explanation of a particular GATT provision. Yet the uniqueness of Jackson's relationship to the GATT was not just his foundational scholarship; every international organization in the twentieth century spawned a scholarly community. The uniqueness came from his role as a teacher attracting graduate law students from around the world who traveled to Ann Arbor to study with him and then returned to their countries to take on leadership roles in international trade. These decades of students inspired by Jackson and educated by his synoptic understanding of trade law enhanced Jackson's influence on the GATT in a way that has no parallel in other agencies.



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1 The original GATT was written in 1947 when Jackson was 15.

2 John H. Jackson, World Trade and the Law of GATT (The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1969), at 17–26, 187–89.

3 Ibid. at 795.

4 Ibid. at 780.

5 Ibid. at 797.

6 For example, in 2003, the WTO Director-General named Jackson as one of eight members of the Consultative Board on the future of the multilateral trading system.

7 See Charnovitz, Steve, ‘What Is International Economic Law?’, 14 Journal of International Economic Law (2011), at 3, 1820 .

8 See Book Symposium, Commentaries on Sovereignty, the WTO and Changing Fundamentals of International Law, 6 World Trade Review (2007).

9 See John H. Jackson, ‘Justice Feliciano and the WTO environmental cases: laying the foundations of a “constitutional jurisprudence” with implications for developing countries’, in Steve Charnovitz, Debra P. Steger, and Peter Van den Bossche (eds.), Law in the Service of Human Dignity: Essays in Honour of Florentino Feliciano (Cambridge University Press, 2005), at 29–43.

10 John H. Jackson and Steve Charnovitz, ‘The structure and function of the World Trade Organization’, in Kenneth Heydon and Stephen Woolcock (eds.), The Ashgate Research Companion to International Trade Policy (Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2012), at 387–403.

John Jackson and the GATT's Transformation



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