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Project Description Print
General

This module is intended to provide a factual and structured analysis of how the WTO works. It will engage in stocktaking of the units of the WTO system and how they are interlinked. Research will focus on how institutions (i.e. their decision-making procedures and norms) and power resources shape policy processes and outcomes. Moreover, the module will investigate the overlap, nesting, clustering or additive character of the GATT/WTO regime with other trade-related regimes to tackle the question of how non-trade issues could potentially be dealt with within this regime.

The research will follow a three-step approach. Firstly, we will look at the input side of the regulatory system; secondly we will evaluate the output side; and thirdly, we will focus on the interaction between input and output.

The input side will focus on how decision-making functions in the various regulatory stages:

  • We will look at different philosophical conceptions underlying political systems and evaluate the WTO in light of these conceptions in a comparative framework.
  • We will consider different regulatory stages (agenda-setting, rule-making, compliance) and the national and international level and describe the decision-making structure. How have a number of important institutional features (i.e. access to the system, transparency, openness) and various decision-making tools (i.e. single undertaking versus variable geometry, coalition building, critical mass approach, mini-ministerials, chairs’ facilitators, the role of the secretariat) developed in a historical and comparative perspective?
  • In addition, we ask how institutions reflect the preferences of principal trading nations and how institutions (i.e. decision-making procedures, legal norms) affect the preferences and behaviour of key actors in the GATT/WTO system. The use and impact of decision-making processes can be understood only in combination with a thorough understanding of when and how contracting parties use the power resources at their disposal.
The output side will focus on the effectiveness of the system:

  • With the help of statistical analysis we attempt to assess the record of the WTO. We will ask what determines (the degree of) compliance or non-compliance with the obligations. We will draw on case studies to complement the statistical analysis, and conduct standardized interviews with public officials and a wide range of stakeholders to measure overall satisfaction with the system.
  • In light of the new literature on compliance, special emphasis will be put on the question of how legalization (understood as the extent to which the rules are binding) has affected the interests and behaviour of the participating actors (and their constituencies). What type of “efficient breach contract” is the WTO?
The analysis of interaction consists of modelling how an increase in input legitimacy (i.e. access, transparency) increases output legitimacy (i.e. satisfaction and acceptance of rules, compliance record) and how increased output legitimacy (welfare gains, different types of compliance model) feeds back to the input side.
 
Focus of individual researchers

  • Cédric Dupont
    Decision-making from a comparative perspective, institutional design and effects, game theory

  • Andreas Ziegler
    Decision-making in the WTO, the role of non-state actors, policy aggregation in selected WTO member countries

  • Manfred Elsig
    The effects of legalization, the role of power in decision-making, overlapping regimes

  • Yves Bonzon
    The role of NGOs in the WTO and other international organizations, policy aggregation in selected WTO member countries

  • Thomas Messerli
    Effectiveness of the GATT/WTO system



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