Document Type


Publication Date

July 2017


The conventional, rationalist view explains that a state will only assent to international regulation if such regulation directly serves the state’s interest. In contrast, nascent transnational regulatory intermediaries, such as the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee, seek to ameliorate such parochial state interests through a broader interstate dialogue. This Article addresses the challenging question of whether these intermediaries have any meaningful effect on the resolution of interstate trade disputes. To examine this question, this Article utilizes data from over 400 examples of “specific trade concerns” (STCs) raised by WTO members in the TBT Committee. Our statistical analysis demonstrates that confrontational (legal) inquiries, as opposed to inquiries seeking clarification, regarding members’ technical regulations tend to reduce the likelihood of the resolution of underlying disputes. Our findings suggest that the way regulatory problems are discussed, and thus communitized, affects the way that parties ultimately reconcile. This Article closes with a call for more qualitative research methods, such as interviewing TBT Committee participants, to further explore the complexities inherent in the new communitized transnational regulatory environment.