WPS 2017-08: The Law of Strangers: The Form and Substance of Other-Regarding International Adjudication

Eyal Benvenisti & Sivan Shlomo Agon

The ever-intensifying trends of global interdependence have created a complex reality in which decisions of sovereign states, like those of international courts, radiate far beyond their traditional confines, affecting the interests of a range of strangers (third-states, individuals, corporations, and others), without being politically accountable to them. Could and should international courts narrow these accountability gaps by insisting that states take the interests of disregarded strangers into account, and by opening the courts’ own doors to the strangers affected by their judgments? In this article, we analyze the judicial commitment to bridge these accountability gaps towards globally affected others by (1) ratcheting up the substantive and procedural duties that states owe to strangers affected by their national policies, and (2) by facilitating the consideration and voice of affected strangers in the adjudication process itself. In analyzing these two other-regarding judicial responses, we focus on one pivotal site of global judicial governance, the World Trade Organization dispute settlement system (WTO DSS). Based on close analysis of the rich WTO jurisprudence, the article shows that since its inception in 1995, other-regarding considerations have played a significant role in the WTO DSS operation. This WTO’s adjudicative philosophy of regard for others, the article argues, demonstrates an evolving judicial sensitivity to the challenges of accountability and voice generated by globalization at the national and international levels.

WPS 08-17 (pdf)