Avoiding conflicts between the WTO agreements and the Cartagena protocol on biosafety, the principle of systemic integration and the principles that lie behind it

  • Jingjing Zhao

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been heavily traded across borders since their first commercialisation in 1996, despite the fierce global debates on their benefits and risks. International trade in GMOs are regulated mainly through the WTO Agreements and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (the Protocol) at the international level. The treaties are not necessarily always consistent with one another. Their relationship also serves as a specific example of the much debated potentially conflicting relationship between trade and environment, and the particular phenomenon of the fragmentation of international law that sows the seed for conflict of international norms.;Against this background, it is pertinent to ask if there really is the potential for conflicts between the treaties. Also, how do the general international rules on conflict of norms apply to the specific relationship between the treaties? In addition, if necessary, how best might conflicts between international treaties be dealt with or avoided in general?;This thesis starts by looking at the substances of the treaties and finds that there exists the real potential for conflict. It then examines the general international rules on conflict resolution techniques, tests them on the potentially conflicting relationship between the WTO Agreements and the Protocol, and finds that existing rules could not provide definitive solutions where conflicts between the treaties arise.;It is a central argument of this thesis that conflicts between the treaties should be proactively avoided rather than resolved when disputes actually arise. More generally, with the aim of achieving sustainable development and the defragmentation of international law, the principle of systemic integration is set out as a tool which is generally used by international judicial bodies for viewing international law as a whole, as well as a viable means for avoiding conflicts between international norms.;The thesis then sketches the theoretical underpinnings of the principle of systemic integration, including the principles of mutual supportiveness, good faith, cooperation, and harmonisation, and argues that the principles that lie behind systemic integration are capable of driving integration at other levels, including institutional and domestic levels.;The thesis also includes an original empirical research undertaken in the form of interviews with state and international organisation representatives, which reaffirms and provides empirical evidence for the doctrinal arguments in this thesis.
Date of Award26 May 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorMark Poustie (Supervisor) & Stephanie Switzer (Supervisor)

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