Fabian’s PhD thesis examines how the debates between trade experts in Committees of the World Trade Organization (WTO) shape the interpretation of multilateral trade agreements and, therefore, Member States’ national regulatory autonomy. The project investigates empirically and theoretically how the discursive interactions between committee members can lead to the creation (and contestation) of shared ideas and common conceptual frameworks about the objectives and limits of the WTO’s agreements.
The project sheds new light on the roles that WTO administrative bodies play in regime maintenance, norm elaboration and the adaptation of the existing legal framework to new challenges. The thesis advances the argument that the contributions of WTO Committees to these crucial tasks, their internal functioning and the role of expert knowledge in international trade governance remain relatively under-explored. It argues that WTO Committee proceedings are more effective and have more profound implications on the operationalisation of WTO treaties and, by extension, member states’ domestic regulatory affairs, than is currently realised.
The project reflects the turn towards social constructivist theorising in International Political Economy and International Economic Law research. It is supervised by Dr Valbona Muzaka at King’s Department of European and International Studies and Dr James Scott at the Department of Political Economy.