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The Role of the World Trade Organization in Environmental Dispute Resolution    Thu Jan 17, 2008, Toronto, ON

ECOlogy & ECOnomy: Win-Win or Wishful Thinking? Student Seminar Series
Thursday, January 17 at 12 noon in the Debates Room of Hart House, 7 Hart House Circle

Samina Essajee, BSc University of Toronto, MA Candidate University of Ottawa, School of Public & International Affairs.

In anticipation of a new round of trade negotiations that will incorporate an environmental agenda, World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Pascal lays claim to remarkable progress that his organization has made in environmental dispute resolution since the controversial “tuna-dolphin” case of 1991. Unfortunately, the tenuous link between WTO involvement and success at these informal negotiations is arbitrary and does not constitute convincing evidence. Even while emphasizing that only a handful of cases have been brought forward, Lamy relies on this limited evidence to conclude that the WTO has made laudable progress. Lamy is correct in noting that the WTO incorporated recommendations made by Daniel Esty is his landmark book, Greening the GATT. However, Esty considers WTO dispute resolution a second-best solution, arguing instead for a new international organization, which would more effectively handle environmental dispute resolution. Other theorists have written enthusiastically about the potential role for the WTO in environmental dispute resolution, because it provides a mechanism for enforcement. However, further progress is unlikely given the present discourse of absolute WTO success, which is based on a lack of real evidence and does not consider possible risks. At the complex interface of international relations, law, economics, and ecology, untangling these issues is a challenge. But if the environmental movement that demanded accountability from the GATT decades ago was ultimately successful, albeit in a limited way, then the same spirit of engagement should be revived to push for more effective environmental dispute resolution at the next Doha Round of trade negotiations.

Free Admission. Lunch is provided. All welcome.
Please RSVP to Gail Skikevitch at 416.978.2446 or by e-mail at gail.skikevitch (at)

This event is co-sponsored by Hart House and the Centre for Environment, University of Toronto.


For more information:

Contact Name: Gail Skikevitch
Phone: 416.978.2446
E-mail: gail.skikevitch (at)

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