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Article

ARE RESTRICTIVE MEASURES AND COUNTERMEASURES JUSTIFIABLE BY WTO SECURITY EXCEPTIONS: OBJECTIVE OR SUBJECTIVE APPROACH?

Boklan D., Абсалямов В. В., Kurnosov Y.

INTRODUCTION. This paper is devoted to interpretation of so-called WTO “Security Exception Articles”, namely Article XXI of the GATT, XIV bis of the GATS and 73 of the TRIPS Agreement with respect to their possible applicability to trade restrictive measures adopted against Russia, and Russian countermeasures, based on the assumption that these trade restrictive measures violate WTO disciplines. 

MATERIALS AND METHODS. The materials for the article were norms of general international law and norms of WTO law, containing so-called security exception provisions and their respective interpretation by international tribunals, international organizations and scholars. The methodological basis of the research consists of general scientific and special methods. 

RESEARCH RESULTS. Taking into account that there is a lack of WTO jurisprudence and no common view of WTO members regarding the issue at hand, the analysis is based on the scope of Security Exception Articles and on the Panel’s jurisdiction to resolve disputes arising from them. In particular, the paper addresses whether security exceptions are of a self-declaratory nature; and, as it was stated by the GATT Council in 1985 in relation to the US trade embargo against Nicaragua, “the Panel cannot examine or judge the validity or motivation for the invocation of article XXI (b) (iii) by the United States” or whether it is possible to apply an objective test to Security Exception Articles. 

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS. With respect to the objective test, the interpretation of the following notions should be analyzed: “essential security interests”, “emergency in international relations” and “necessary to protect”. The analysis should be based on rules of general international law and the Appellate Body’s approach according to which previously established interpretations of certain provisions of one WTO Agreement can be used to inform the content of the same ‘words’ in another WTO Agreement. With respect to the subjective approach we may face a tendency to interpret “self-judging clause”, in the light of “a good faith” principle and therefore the issue at hand can be subject to the Dispute Settlement Body's analysis.