An Anatomy of Accountability at the WTO

Global Policy, Forthcoming

21 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2014

See all articles by Robert Wolfe

Robert Wolfe

Queen's University - School of Policy Studies

Date Written: April 27, 2014


Accountability is fundamental to democratic governance and good administration, but its multiple meanings and claimants challenge international organizations. Who is accountable implies who can be accountable, and the matters for which some process exists to hold them accountable through some effect on their behavior. The answers to those questions in the World Trade Organization will differ depending on who is asking, and on the values to be promoted, from international order, procedural fairness, prosperity, and justice through sustainable development. An anatomy of accountability in the WTO finds many possible "accountability regimes", illuminating the tension between vertical and horizontal accountability (domestic responsiveness and international obligation), and the challenge in choosing among horizontal accountability regimes (promise keeping by Members), since efforts to satisfy any one accountability claim can make achieving the others more difficult.

Keywords: accountability, WTO, institutional design, compliance, dispute settlement

Suggested Citation

Wolfe, Robert, An Anatomy of Accountability at the WTO (April 27, 2014). Global Policy, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Robert Wolfe (Contact Author)

Queen's University - School of Policy Studies ( email )

Ontario K7L 3N6

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