7 Mar 2023
Brown Bag Seminar, 12:15 - 13:15, Anna Nussbaum Auditorium, World Trade Institute, Hallerstrasse 6, Bern, Switzerland
Häberli, Christian

Brown Bag Seminar "Sustainable Development: Is WTO Part of the Problem?"

Christian Häberli, WTI Fellow, will speak at the World Trade Institute: are the WTO and the multilateral trading system sustainable? He will present his paper on agricultural trade (Working Title: "Agricultural Trade Rules - Where are you?").


A lot of criticism continues to abound even after the self-claimed success of MC13. There are the obvious grievances about the lack of dispute settlement and the lack of real negotiations. Businesses and NGOs point out the shortcomings in their fields of interest. Arthur Appleton and & Patrick Macrory find problems just about everywhere and make suggestions on how to fix them (2022, Kluwer Law International BV). Other scholars (Aaronson, Baldwin, Evenett, Howse, Mavroidis, Orden et al) argue that WTO has become part of the problem. Not only because of the stalled agriculture and other negotiations, or the incompatibility of the present WTO non-discrimination rules with the Climate Agreement "differentiation" obligation. The pandemic, the energy crisis, and other wars failed to move the debate in Geneva forward for even one inch.

Basically, there seems to be a consensus – outside of WTO – that the multilateral trading system is not sustainable. This raises the question whether Trade Ministry representatives masterminding all WTO proceedings are unable or unwilling to review the present rules? Could scholars or adjudicators find compelling reasons to consider non-international economic law in their assessment of a claim of non-sustainability?

My article will focus on agricultural trade (Working Title: "Agricultural Trade Rules - Where are you?"), but this lecture starts with a lot of context outside agriculture. Yet it will not join the blame game. I only propose to accept the present shortcomings in international trade and investment governance as a leverage for reforms negotiated by those who matter: WTO Member governments, and parliaments.

Speaker Biography

Christian Häberli is since 2007, Fellow of the World Trade Institute (WTI - Bern University), Lecturer and Consultant for scientific research and outreach activities in Europe, Asia, Africa, and in the Americas. Over 70 publications on multilateral, regional and preferential trade and investment issues related to climate change, agriculture, food security and food safety, obesity and malnutrition, environment, human rights, employment and labour, ethics, societal concerns, WTO accessions, Brexit, and equitable trade. Chair of the WTO Committee on Agriculture (Regular Session, 2005 – 07). WTO Panellist (1996 – 2015) in 20 stages of 5 dispute settlement cases. Chair (every other year) of the Joint Committee of the Agriculture Agreement Switzerland–EU (2002 to 2007). Chairperson of the Arbitration Panel initiated by the EU on restrictions applied by Ukraine on exports of certain wood products (2020). Trade negotiator for Switzerland in the GATT and the WTO during the Uruguay and the Doha Rounds (1986 to 2007). University degrees in Law (PhD on African Investment Law, 1977), Development Sciences (1975) and Theology (2009). Professional career starting in 1978 with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and then with the Swiss Government, based in Madagascar, Thailand, Nepal, and Switzerland.

Attend remotely on Zoom

Topic: BB - Sustainable Development: Is WTO Part of the Problem?
Time: Mar 7, 2023 12:15 PM Zurich
Join Zoom Meeting: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/87167598182?pwd=TjNrZ1dOWVQvTEVyQ0JBcGxvUHJRZz09
Meeting ID: 871 6759 8182
Passcode: 230528
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