world trade organisation (WTO)
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the global international organisation dealing with the rules of trade between nations. Central to the World Trade Organisation are agreements, negotiated and signed by most of the world' s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. These agreements are the legal ground-rules for international commerce. Essentially, they are contracts, guaranteeing member countries trade rights. They also bind governments to keep their trade policies within agreed limits to everybody' s benefit. The goal is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business. Countries can bring disputes over barriers to trade and unfair subsidies to the WTO for resolution.
HSI's lawyers are engaged in WTO negotiations to ensure that the rights of animals and the environment are protected when countries assert their trade rights. Several animal protection measures that have been taken uni-laterally by one country have been challenged by another at the WTO. A famous case is the ban on the import of prawns into the United States from countries that did not require the use of Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) in their prawn trawl fisheries. (Turtles are often caught and drown in trawl nets. TEDS allow them to escape the nets). Another important case for HSI involved 'dolphin safe' tuna labelling laws.