Global Administrative Law in the Operation of International Organizations

Emergency Action by the WTO Director-General: Global Administrative Law and the WTO’s Initial Response to the 2008-09 Financial Crisis


Joost Pauwelyn, Ayelet Berman

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The WTO’s initial reaction to the 2008-2009 financial crisis was taken mainly by its managerial arm, that is, by the Director-General (DG) and the Secretariat and not by its legislative or judicial bodies. This is a novelty for the WTO and illustrates the emergence, even at the otherwise hard-law WTO, of informal administrative actions that go beyond the traditional member-dominated WTO. The actions were in two areas: The DG convened trade finance expert meetings with other organizations and private banks, and the Secretariat prepared reports on trade-related measures enacted across the globe in response to the crisis. The article examines these actions in light of certain concepts and principles of the GAL project. Overall, the Director-General was sensitive in his actions to GAL principles.