Global standard-setting 2.0

How the WTO spotlights ISO and impacts the transnational standard-setting process

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Abstract

Transnational technical standard-setting has grown in prominence in recent years. The World Trade Organization (WTO) requires the use of international standards but adopts a deferential approach towards international standards. However, practice shows that several international standards are promulgated through opaque and exclusionary processes. In line with this observation, in its recent US—Tuna II ruling, the Appellate Body adopted a more critical stance regarding international standards and the processes that lead to their adoption. Against this backdrop, this article focuses on an analysis of the properties and mechanics of international standard-setting processes within the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), discussing procedural and substantive guarantees regarding transparency, openness, deliberation and participation. As the WTO becomes the de facto arbiter of the legitimacy of international standards, much needed institutional reform in international standard-setting is bound to occur. Arguably, this is bringing a paradigm shift in standardization practices and introduces “global standard-setting 2.0.” Such trend is in line with emerging demands for a more inclusive global legal order.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-326
Number of pages54
JournalDuke Journal of Comparative and International Law
Volume28
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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international organization
WTO
technical standard
legal order
mechanic
deliberation
transparency
guarantee
legitimacy
paradigm
reform
participation
trend

Cite this

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title = "Global standard-setting 2.0: How the WTO spotlights ISO and impacts the transnational standard-setting process",
abstract = "Transnational technical standard-setting has grown in prominence in recent years. The World Trade Organization (WTO) requires the use of international standards but adopts a deferential approach towards international standards. However, practice shows that several international standards are promulgated through opaque and exclusionary processes. In line with this observation, in its recent US—Tuna II ruling, the Appellate Body adopted a more critical stance regarding international standards and the processes that lead to their adoption. Against this backdrop, this article focuses on an analysis of the properties and mechanics of international standard-setting processes within the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), discussing procedural and substantive guarantees regarding transparency, openness, deliberation and participation. As the WTO becomes the de facto arbiter of the legitimacy of international standards, much needed institutional reform in international standard-setting is bound to occur. Arguably, this is bringing a paradigm shift in standardization practices and introduces “global standard-setting 2.0.” Such trend is in line with emerging demands for a more inclusive global legal order.",
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AB - Transnational technical standard-setting has grown in prominence in recent years. The World Trade Organization (WTO) requires the use of international standards but adopts a deferential approach towards international standards. However, practice shows that several international standards are promulgated through opaque and exclusionary processes. In line with this observation, in its recent US—Tuna II ruling, the Appellate Body adopted a more critical stance regarding international standards and the processes that lead to their adoption. Against this backdrop, this article focuses on an analysis of the properties and mechanics of international standard-setting processes within the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), discussing procedural and substantive guarantees regarding transparency, openness, deliberation and participation. As the WTO becomes the de facto arbiter of the legitimacy of international standards, much needed institutional reform in international standard-setting is bound to occur. Arguably, this is bringing a paradigm shift in standardization practices and introduces “global standard-setting 2.0.” Such trend is in line with emerging demands for a more inclusive global legal order.

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