Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Please Discuss My Questions - Should WTO Members Revoke or Suspend the Russian Federations Accession Application

From Cyndee Todgham Cherniak, Toronto, Canada: I first posted this article on and then thought that maybe I can start an interesting discussion.  I hope that we can have an academic discussion without getting into the politics and other areas where opinions can be emotional.

The recent hostile activities by the Russian Federation in the sovereign nation, Georgia, causes other nations to consider what can be done to punish or deter further aggression. Georgia has been a WTO Member since June 14, 2000.  The Russian Federation's application to accede to the WTO was filed in June 1993 and WTO Members have been working towards accession.  However, the Russian Federation's accession to the WTO is a ways off in the distance and the last meeting of the working party took place in March 2006.

While the 153 WTO Members could not agree in July to the compromise presented by Director-General Pascal Lamy, is it possible that they could come together to agree to revoke the Russian Federation's WTO accession application or suspend their discussions with the Russian Federation?

Should one use trade to force certain behaviour (or in this case, deter certain behaviour)?  Should countries use what is available to send a message that actions have consequences?  Should there be a consequence for engaging in hostile and aggressive acts of war within the territory of a WTO Member?  Do WTO Members owe each other loyalty beyond adherence to WTO obligations?

Or, should WTO Members refrain from using the WTO for non-trade disputes?  Should countries say that disputes such as whether one country can engage in hostile and aggressive acts in another country should be left to the United Nations, the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice and similar forum?

I have many questions, but not the answers ....

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Excellent questions indeed. There must be some long-term consequences to all of this.

Posted by: Mark | Aug 14, 2008 10:16:16 AM

While economic sanctions can be very disruptive to world trade and can disportionately harm the population the world is trying to help, I believe it is important to be prepared to use trade sanctions to end armed conflict. As stated in the UN Charter, armed conflict should be the last resort in any situtation which threatens international peace and security. Russia's WTO accession application provides a unique and timely tool for the rest of the world to pressure Russia to comply with interntional law. Revoking Russia's application would largely end the bargaining leverage created by the pendancy of the application. Therefore, I would not recommend revoking it, but perhaps suspending discussions and threatening revocation if Russia fails to comply with the recently negotiated cease fire agreement.

Posted by: Cindy Buys | Aug 16, 2008 3:14:47 PM

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