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The post-World War II world trading system is now more than fifty years old, and not surprisingly, it has evolved through a number of different stages of development and survived a series of perils. Recently, however, the perils seem even greater than before. The failure of the Seattle Ministerial Meeting of November-December 1999 focused the attention of the international community, almost like a prospective execution focusing the attention of the targeted person. A number of different factors have contributed to this perilous situation, and in this brief Essay, I want to look particularly at some of the institutional characteristics of the World Trade Organization ("WTO"), which may be contributing to, or inhibiting escape from, the "perils." I will do this in four parts.

Part I will be a brief reminder of the policy objectives and implications of the international economic system. Part II will overview the world trading system's need for a cooperative international mechanism or institution. Part III will examine the characteristics needed for a successful institution of this type, which might be the WTO. Part IV will explore some problems connected with the current situation related to the needed characteristics.

Publication Citation

24 Fordham Int'l L.J. 371-382 (2000)