Volume 48 (2014) / Issue 4
Accession protocols are unique legal instruments in the World Trade Organization (WTO) legal system. With the increasing numbers of new Members joining the WTO, the number of accession protocols is also on the rise. However, due to the ambiguous legal status of the accession protocols in the WTO legal system, the disputes relating to the understanding and application of the provisions in accession protocols are frequently taking place. Because accession protocols concern the fundamental trade interests of new Members, their status in the WTO legal system is of great importance. The WTO Ministerial Conference and General Council should therefore fulfil their statutory duties in such a way as to mitigate potential challenges posed by the possible legal uncertainty of accession protocols in pursuing the aims of the multilateral trading system, in adhering to and promoting WTO principles and rules as well as the basic principles of international law and in particular situating accession protocols appropriately within the overall WTO legal framework. Specifically, this article proposes that the WTO Ministerial Conference and General Council should properly address the relationship between accession protocols and the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization and its annexes. Such action will help to safeguard the legal rights and interests of the new WTO Members.
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