The World Trade Organization Rules: A Legal Analysis of their Adverse Impact on Animal Welfare (pdf file - 122.27 KB)
The free trade rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) have already had a highly detrimental impact on measures designed to protect animals. U.S. laws to safeguard dolphins and initially their attempt to protect sea turtles were declared inconsistent with the WTO rules. The European Union has abandoned its ban on the import of furs from countries that allow use of leghold traps and its ban on the sale of cosmetics tested on animals, because of fears they could not survive WTO challenges. This article examines the WTO rules and how they have been interpreted by case law. It then identifies the ways in which the WTO rules need to be reformed if they are not to continue to have a deleterious effect on animal welfare. Finally, the article argues that WTO members could properly interpret the existing rules less restrictively in such a way as to permit measures designed to improve animal welfare.