The UN is an international organization which aids in international conflicts
and resolution between countries. The conflicts are then resolved respectively
by the sort of problem, these specific conflicts are solved within committees by
experts in the topics. The United Nations (UN) is an organization that was
established after WWII on the 26th of June 1945, in order to sustain global
peace, neutralizing of threats, dialogue between nations, control of weapons and
international cooperation. Joining 193 countries to find solutions for
international conflicts the UN tries to maintain international peace and
security. The United Nations General Assembly is the main deliberative,
policymaking and representative organ of the UN.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an intergovernmental organization which
regulates international trade. The WTO officially commenced on 1 January 1995
under the Marrakesh Agreement, signed by 123 nations on 15 April 1994, replacing
the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which commenced in
The WTO deals with regulation of trade between participating countries
by providing a framework for negotiating trade agreements and a dispute
resolution process aimed at enforcing participants' adherence to WTO agreements,
which are signed by representatives of member governments:fol.9–10 and
ratified by their parliaments. Most of the issues that the WTO focuses on
derive from previous trade negotiations, especially from the Uruguay
The WTO is attempting to complete negotiations on the Doha Development Round,
which was launched in 2001 with an explicit focus on developing countries. As of
June 2012, the future of the Doha Round remained uncertain: the work programme
lists 21 subjects in which the original deadline of 1 January 2005 was missed,
and the round is still incomplete.
The conflict between free trade on
industrial goods and services but retention of protectionism on farm
subsidies to domestic agricultural sector (requested by developed countries) and
the substantiation of fair trade on agricultural products (requested
by developing countries) remain the major obstacles. This impasse has made it
impossible to launch new WTO negotiations beyond the Doha Development Round. As
a result, there have been an increasing number of bilateral free trade
agreements between governments.
The Benefits of World Trade Organization
- Helps promote peace within nations
- Disputes are handled constructively
- Rules make life easier for all
- Free trade cuts the cost of living
- It provides more choice of products and qualities
- Trade raises income
- Trade stimulates economic growth
- Basic principles make life more efficient
- Governments are shielded from lobbying
- The system encourages good governance
The Agriculture Committee
The Committee on Agriculture oversees implementation of the Agriculture
Agreement and monitors how WTO members are complying with their commitments.
Members are required to share information and may ask each other questions or
raise concerns about each other's agricultural policies.
Competitive Policy, Government Procurement And Liberalization of Trade
Competition policy, also known as antitrust policy, refers to a set of laws and
regulations often adopted by states and regional bodies in order to maintain a
competitive market through combating ‘anti-competitive practices' by private
actors (i.e. corporations). Anti-competitive practices include a variety of
measures that will be investigated in further detail later, including cartels,
collusion, and price-fixing; monopolies and abuse of dominant position; mergers
and acquisitions (in some cases); and others.
The WTO's Role
The Havana Charter, the treaty intended to establish the ITO, included antitrust
measures. However, since the ITO never came into effect and the GATT never
adopted these measures, competition policy and regulation measures were never
brought to the international stage.
The Doha round was supposed to bring competition policy into the WTO, however,
the gridlock in the negotiations led the General Council to decide that
“[competition policy] will not form part of the Work Programme set out in that
Declaration and therefore no work towards negotiations on any of these issues
will take place within the WTO during the Doha Round.
Alongside that same decision, the Council decided that no further negotiations
would take place concerning government procurement either. However, as antitrust
lawsuits concerning multinational corporations reach an all-time high, it became
pertinent to bring these issues back to the negotiations table.
The question that begs to be answered is how would creating a competition
enforcement mechanism at the global level be beneficial to free trade? There
are numerous types of cases that can demonstrate how a global antitrust
mechanism can be more effective than national and regional efforts in ensuring
free and competitive markets. Monopoly and abuse of dominant also creates
Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights
Trade economists argue that in order to achieve real and impartial free trade,
countries around the world need to agree on a harmonized intellectual property
policy. This would allow firms and individuals to retain exclusive rights over
the production or distribution of their intellectual creations for a certain
period. These intellectual creations are often protected by three different
tools: patents, copyrights, and trademarks.
National laws protecting property rights generally provide a mechanism for an
entity to register its intellectual property in order to gain exclusive use
rights to the reproduction and redistribution of products or services that
include the protected property for a certain number of years outlined by the
law. However, without international treaties and agreements making these rights
valid across borders, intellectual property rights would be highly weakened.
This is where the World Trade Organization comes in.
The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights –
commonly referred to as the TRIPS Agreement – was signed during the Uruguay
negotiations round. The agreement is far more comprehensive than many other
international property rights agreements unrelated to the WTO or the GATT such
as the Berne Convention which was initially signed in 1886. In addition, the
agreement introduced a dispute settlement mechanism which we will talk about
later on in this section.
The current TRIPS agreements require a minimum 50-year copyright protection
regardless of the author's life. In addition, copyrights must be granted without
any formality, registration or application. Copyright covers the end product, or
the ‘expression' and therefore do not include the underlying method, underlying
math and so on.
Copyrights and Software:
A recent case between Oracle and Google about the use of APIs was decided on by
a Federal District Court. Google argued initially argued that APIs were not
covered by copyright laws, however, a lower court had already decided that APIs
were covered under copyright laws. The final ruling stated that although
Oracle's API is protected by copyright laws, Google's use was considered “fair
” This is just an example of how delineating what is covered by
copyright laws, what falls under copyright laws and what is considered “fair
use” when it comes to software can be challenging. Therefore, it is expected
that the WTO General Council specifies how software is covered under copyright
laws and what are the laws' exceptions (i.e. fair use in the United States).
Patents are granted by governments to inventors –individuals or corporations–
providing them exclusive rights for manufacturing and producing their invention
for a certain period of time. During this period, patent holders may allow
others to use their designs and ideas for a fee. Proponents of patents argue
that they provide incentive for firms and individuals to spend labour and
capital on research and development, hence advancing economic growth and general
prosperity. The WTO established general framework for international patent
rights through the TRIPS agreement, which requires a minimum of 20 years of
exclusive rights to be granted to patent holders.
Dispute Settlement Mechanism (DSM) and Intellectual Property
As the General Council seeks further jurisdiction for the WTO dispute settlement
mechanism over intellectual property through specifying possible exceptions and
other measures, it becomes important to ensure that the workings of the
mechanism are adequate for ruling on intellectual property cases.
The current DSM allows only countries to file complaints against other countries
if they believe that a breach of WTO agreements has taken place. Once a
complaint is filed, the WTO Secretariat appoints an ad-hoc Dispute Panel
general consisting of three individuals. The panel would then hear arguments
from the complainant country and the defendant country and then produce a
The Dispute Settlement Body (DSB), a committee comprised of all WTO Members at
an ambassadorial level, would then meet and review the Dispute Panel's ruling
and decide whether to approve it or not. However, the DSB uses a ‘reverse
consensus' voting mechanism which means that unless there is a consensus
against the Dispute Panel's ruling, it would be approved. The occurrence of a
reverse consensus is virtually impossible making the DSB more of a rubber stamp
in the settlement mechanism.
National Law Compliance Cases
As the WTO expands and specifies intellectual property rights measures within
its agreements, it must also consider how the DSM would deal with intellectual
property issues. There are three types of cases that the might have to be
settled by the DSM. The first type, which is less problematic, is where a
country believes that another member state's law does not comply with the
agreement. For example, if the WTO agrees that national security exceptions to
patents do not include cyber security and a member state passes a law allowing
for exceptions based on cyber security issues, other countries have grounds to
bring the issue to DSM.
Written by: Sayed Qudrat Hashimy - International Law Student
e-mail: [email protected] / Phone no. +91-9008813333