Chicago Journal of International Law


The use of trade sanctions for broad foreign policy purposes has been a matter of longstanding controversy in the United States. Apart from questioning the effectiveness of such sanctions, and pointing out that they may have innocent victims (such as workers in oppressive regimes whose jobs are dependent on export opportunities), free traders often claim that sanctions violate the rules of the World Trade Organization ("WTO"). In fact, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade ("GATT"), the centerpiece of the WTO as far as trade in goods is concerned, does not put free trade above other political values and contains exceptions for trade measures "necessary" for the protection of public morals and for national security purposes. It is thus a matter of debate how much, or how little, leeway the WTO affords to politically-motivated trade sanctions. [CONT]