No Outsourcing of Law? WTO Law as Practiced by WTO Courts

Petros C. Mavroidis, Columbia Law School

This article has been published in a revised form in the American Journal of International Law. This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution or re-use. © Cambridge University Press.


This article provides a critical assessment of the corpus of law that the adjudicating bodies of the World Trade Organization (WTO) – the Appellate Body (AB) and panels – have used since the organization was established on January 1, 1995. After presenting a taxonomy of WTO law, I move to discern, and to provide a critical assessment of, the philosophy of the WTO adjudicating bodies, when called to interpret it. In discussing the law that WTO adjudicating bodies have used, I distinguish between sources of WTO law and interpretative elements. This distinction will be explicated in part I below. Part II provides a taxonomy of the sources of WTO law, and part III a taxonomy of the interpretative elements used to illuminate those sources. Part IV concludes.