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WTO rules increasingly impinge upon other areas of law and policy, including environmental protection, agricultural and regional policies, labour standards, human rights and culture.  The purpose of NCCR Trade Regulation is to develop innovative, concrete policy recommendations that reflect a better balance between economic and other regulatory objectives, taking into consideration insights from the disciplines of law, economics and political science.   Sustainability will be a key criterion for all proposals.

The project is premised on the idea that academia is going to have an increasingly important role to play in conceptualizing the regulatory debates of the future, and, in particular, elucidating the value-related choices enjeux.   Such thinking has to take place outside of the political arena as it cannot be based on short-term rationales.


International trade regulation transcends law and politics. The main framework is provided by WTO law, backstopped by its effective enforcement mechanism. WTO law, however, constitutes only one of many international regimes.  These regimes, furthermore, exist in what's commonly termed a "normative jungle":  There is no common institutional mechanism that can bring about coherence in their negotiation, application and/or interpretation, even though they each operate within the general framework of international law. 

National constitutional legal systems provided such an all-encompassing institutional framework that also safeguarded a society's fundamental values. Globalization has assailed these systems; they remain only one factor in today's complicated regulatory "equation".  The challenge today is to find coherent regulatory solutions that can bring about sustainable development in a multi-layered governmental environment.  These solutions have to take account of economic and political realities. Coherence can only be achieved if trade regulation is tailored to the political and social constellations in which it is to be applied and "enforced".  They must also support economic efficiency.  

SNF - Swiss National Science Foundation The National Centres of Competence in Research are a research instrument of the Swiss National Science Foundation