GATT Article XXI, the National Security “escape clause,” is the legal shield invoked by President Donald Trump to justify the current trade war between China and the US. The WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) has, since its inception, successfully avoided making a ruling on the meaning of “national security” because of its political implications. The aluminum and steel disputes have rekindled this discussion. The DSB is now confronted with the task of clarifying the so called “self-judging nature” of GATT Article XXI to preserve the stability and credibility of the multilateral trading system. Can we anticipate the decision the DSB will make? What do previous disputes and the drafting history tell us about this provision? The resulting interpretation of GATT Article XXI will reshape our understanding of international economic law, along with the future of the WTO. It will define what the future of global trade holds for us.

On February 7, 2019 CAROLA welcomed Fernando González, Director of the Graduate Programs in Law, Monterrey Institute of Technology and Jorge Miranda, Lead International Trade Advisor, King & Spalding for a panel discussion which touched on this on other issues concerning the relationship between national security and trade in the context of the WTO’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The event was moderated by Alvaro Santos, Professor of Law and Director of CAROLA.