9. Domestic Politics and the Search for a New Social Purpose of Governance for the WTO: A Proposal for a Declaration on Domestic Consultation
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219 9 Domestic Politics and the Search for a New Social Purpose of Governance for the WTO: A Proposal for a Declaration on Domestic Consultation SEEMA SAPRA* I. Introduction Clarification and enlargement of the role of non-state actors has been a recurring theme in discussions on World Trade Organization (WTO) institutional reform. The usual emphasis is on an enhanced role for civil society actors, including both value-based international NGOs and private interests, in WTO activities in Geneva.1 Departing from this focus on Geneva-based participation and on non-governmental organizations (NGOs), this chapter examines whether and why the WTO institutional reform project should also concern itself with the role of non-state actors at the domestic level of trade policy-making.2 This chapter is divided into three parts. Part II discusses why a project on WTO institutional reform should be concerned with domestic transparency and participation issues in respect of how trade policy is formulated and implemented . The WTO displays a dysfunction in a lack of congruence between the power structure and the‘social purpose’of the regime. The resulting divergence between power and social purpose leads to current difficulties in negotiating the Doha Round, which are a manifestation of the struggle over defining the social purpose of the WTO. The new social purpose of the global trade regime must derive its content from the social purpose of governance at the domestic level. A new embedded liberal compromise must emerge from within the domestic politics of WTO Members. Part III of this chapter highlights the reflexive and dynamic linkages between the domestic and the international in the functioning of the WTO. It argues that conceptualizing the WTO as a system of multi-level governance, which includes the domestic sphere as a site of governance, can be useful in designing reform proposals. Reform-oriented changes to processes and institutions at the international level should not have undesirable effects on participation at the domestic level. More proactively, WTO reform proposals must address the domestic origins of the WTO crisis and recommend changes in WTO rules and processes that will stimulate reform of domestic trade policy-making toward more broadbased and inclusive stakeholder participation. Efforts to reform the WTO, and in particular institutional reform proposals that target the role of non-state actors and external transparency, must be based on a holistic understanding of how the WTO works as a multi-level system of trade governance. The centrality of domestic political processes to the WTO’s functioning necessitates more transparency and participation by non-state actors in engagement with the WTO at the domestic level. Part IV discusses potential reform proposals that could lead to improved stakeholder participation at the domestic level. In particular, it is recommended that the Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM) of the WTO include review of a Member’s consultation mechanisms for trade policy-making at the domestic level. A declaration on domestic consultation should be adopted by the WTO General Council to provide guidance to the Trade Policy Review Body, as well as to Members in designing domestic consultation procedures. The WTO should also engage in capacity building in domestic consultation procedures for trade policy-making.Some ideas for conceptualizing and evaluating non-state actor capacity, preparedness, and engagement at the domestic level are also discussed. Before proceeding,a distinction must be drawn between the terms‘non-state actor’and‘NGO’in the sense in which these are used in this chapter. The term ‘NGO’is narrower than the term‘non-state actor’. There are two essential characteristics in which NGOs (being a particular type of non-state actor themselves ) differ from other non-state actors.First,organizations usually categorized as NGOs have a non-profit or voluntary character. And second, unlike other non-state actors NGOs must have a basic organizational structure and not be ad hoc or spontaneous entities.A useful definition of NGOs offered by Martens is that these are‘formal (professionalized) independent societal organizations whose primary aim is to promote common goods at the national or the international level’.3 NGOs do not have an international legal personality and are governed (if at all) by relevant national regulation of the state where they are located. Archer points out that the phrase NGO was originally ‘an awkwardly negative title coined by the United Nations’ and that it described ‘a vast range of international and national citizens organizations, trade unions, voluntary associations,research institutes,public policy centers,private government agencies , business and...