Economic sanctions and challenge of these in the WTO in the context of the national security exceptions (GATT Article XXI:(b)(iii))

Available in Russian

Keywords: article XXI of the GATT


The article is focused on interactive relationship between the international economic law and the sovereignty of States and their regulatory power. The author explores complex special cases of appealing economic sanctions and bringing them to dispute before the WTO. The success of the appeal depends on whether a government could bypass the national security exceptions set forth in Article XXI:(b)(iii) of the GATT. These exempting rules are often seen as a strong barrier on the way to a favourable resolution of such disputes in the WTO dispute settlement system, because they give the state practically unlimited discretion. Defining the limits of the discretion is the goal of present research, which the author concludes with two main deductions. Despite the “self-judging” nature of this provision, states’ actions contrary to the good faith principle will not enjoy the protection of Article XXI:(b)(iii) of the GATT. Not only does this interpretation of the clause find support in the idea that the good faith principle permeates the whole system of obligations under international law, but also this approach is confirmed by international investment law jurisprudence and that of the ICJ. In addition, recent cases involving China brought before the WTO Dispute Settlement Body to be resolved give an alarm message showing that the exceptions concerned, apparently, do not apply automatically to WTO member states’ commitments under their WTO accession protocols relating to trade in goods. Analogous to the general exceptions in the GATT, Article XXI of the GATT applies to obligations arising from WTO accession protocols, if there is a clearly discernible, objective link to regulation of trade.

About the author: Aleksey Petrenko – Ph.D. student, University of Göttingen, LL.M. (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen).

Citation: Petrenko A. (2016) Ekonomicheskie sanktsii i ikh osparivanie v VTO v kontekste isklyucheniy po soobrazheniyam natsional’noy bezopasnosti (stat’ya XXI:(b)(iii) GATT) [Economic sanctions and challenge of these in the WTO in the context of the national security exceptions (GATT Article XXI:(b)(iii))]. Mezhdunarodnoye pravosudie, no.2, pp.69–86. (In Russian).


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