Volume 52 (2018) / Issue 6
The conflict between societal values, including environment protection, and trade rules has been a recurring issue in WTO jurisprudence. This conflict is evident in recent WTO disputes where renewable energy support mechanisms allegedly infringed WTO trade rules including the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM Agreement). Most of the literature looks at this conflict as a conflict between societal values, such as environment protection, and WTO-trade rules. This article takes a different look at this problem. Specifically, this article contends that both WTO-trade rules and international environmental law embrace environment protection as a ‘common value’. Nevertheless, the fragmented nature of international law in the modern times gave rise to the phenomenon of ‘self-contained regimes’. Both the WTO trade regime and international environmental rules are considered ‘self-contained regimes’ with unclear boundaries between each other as well as between each of them and the general body of international law. In short, the real conflict between WTO – trade rules and international environmental rules is a ‘conflict of norms’ rather than a ‘conflict of values’.
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