Institutional Misfits: The GATT, the ICJ & Trade-Environment Disputes

The central thesis of this article is that neither trade bodies, like the GATT or NAFTA, nor adjudicatory bodies, like the ICJ or the proposed International Court for the Environment, ought to resolve these issues. Instead, trade-environment conflicts should be heard before an institution that recognizes the interdependent nature of global economic and environmental issues and that has a mandate to advance both economic development and environmental protection. This body should have ready access to the scientific and technical expertise that would enable it to resolve trade-environment disputes knowledgeably. It should possess tools to encourage nations to comply with its decisions. Finally, the institution should be able to look beyond the interests of the parties to a particular dispute to protect broader interests in the international economy and ‘the global ecosystem.