ISO and Codex Standards and International Trade Law: What Gets Said is Not What's Heard

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Abstract

This article challenges the rhetoric of hardening, according to which international standards become binding through WTO endorsement. The analysis of the system of presumptions set up in the Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement and Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary Agreement reveals that international standards are actually used as a ‘ceiling’ rather than a ‘floor’ benchmark of protection, contrary to their original spirit. They represent a codified and agreed yardstick for least trade-restrictive measures, a minimum compromise between the regulatory regime and the trade litigation machinery. It follows that their nature—at least within the WTO system—is irreversibly distorted; they are treated as facts rather than as safety or quality devices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)895-932
JournalInternational and Comparative Law Quarterly
Volume60
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Keywords

  • WTO
  • ISO
  • Codex Alimentarius
  • SPS
  • TBT
  • international standards
  • voluntary standards

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