National Security Concerns in Trade Disputes: An Analysis of Art. XXI (b) (iii) GATT

The paper elaborates on a legal issue of the GATT which has remained essentially unsolved so far: the security exceptions of Art. XXI (b) (iii) GATT and its potentially abusive application in trade-related conflicts between WTO Members. The invocation of Art. XXI (b) (iii) GATT regularly results from political reluctance to international cooperation and is considered an appropriate means for an effective response strategy due to a purportedly limited standard of review for a panel or the Appellate Body. The paper addresses the current dispute between Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) before the WTO DSB, dealing with economic sanctions and their intended justification under Art. XXI (b) (iii) GATT, in order to assess the provision's understanding of “security” and the limitations of its assertion.