Analytical Note, June 2003

Reflecting Sustainable Development in the Doha Trade Negotiations: Implementing Paragraph 51 of the Doha Ministerial Declaration.

Paragraph 51 of the 2001 Doha Ministerial Declaration provides a unique but ambiguous mandate for the WTO’s Committees on Trade and Development (CTD) and on Trade and Environment (CTE).

It requires that these two bodies “within their respective mandates, each act as a forum to identify and debate developmental and environmental aspects of the negotiations, in order to help achieve the objective of having sustainable development appropriately reflected.” This mandate attempts to implement WTO Members’ desire to ensure that the Doha Round trade negotiations promote the objective of sustainable development.

This objective is deeply embedded in the WTO framework. Explicit references to it can be found in the WTO’s constitutional legal instrument – the Marrakesh Agreement to Establish the World Trade Organisation – and in subsequent WTO legal texts, such as the 1994 Ministerial Decisions on Trade and Environment and on Trade in Services and the Environment, and the 1996 and 2001 WTO Ministerial Declarations. The WTO Appellate Body in the US – Shrimps-Turtle dispute also stated that the objective of sustainable development recognised in the WTO Agreement’s preamble “informs” all of the covered agreements.

The proper and effective implementation of the Paragraph 51 mandate could be the key to ensuring that the Doha trade negotiations result in a final outcome thatpromotes the sustainable development needs and priorities of developing countries and is consistent with the earth’s long-term ecological carrying capacity from the local to the global level.

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