International trade law, human rights law and development studies share the common objective of promoting higher standards of living in the poorer countries of the world. Human rights and development scholars have been critical of the law of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), as implementing a development strategy which dominates and constrains the development strategy options of developing countries but which perceives development only in a narrow, economic sense. In this paper, the different theoretical underpinnings of international trade law and international human rights law are described and compared and their differing conceptions of development are examined from the perspective of the broader development discourse. The package of rights and obligations of developing countries under WTO law (the ‘WTO-Minus strategy’) is also described and examples of significant constraints placed by this package on the development strategy options open to developing countries regarding trade in goods are examined from the perspectives of the broader development discourse and international human rights norms. The capacity of the WTO to incorporate new and multidisciplinary knowledge about development is considered.
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