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Taking Stakeholder Engagement in International Policy-Making Seriously: Is the WTO Finally Opening Up?

In the face of multiple global challenges, major policy-making initiatives are under way at various international fora. In many of these talks and discussions, a central question is how to fairly and effectively engage external stakeholders. While lagging behind for decades, the World Trade Organization has woken up to the potential of more actively engaging stakeholders in international trade policy-making, both to make better policies and mitigate implementation challenges. This contribution describes the groundbreaking steps taken in a number of Member-led informal discussions and dialogues: the Trade and Environmental Sustainability Structured Discussions and the Informal Dialogue on Plastics Pollution and Environmentally Sustainable Plastics Trade. The objective of this contribution is to describe and applaud recent developments and initiate a discussion on how the process can be made more inclusive and robust and, potentially, also be extended to formal World Trade Organization activities. In this context, the World Health Organization’s ongoing negotiations on a new pandemic treaty are used to offer an interesting point of comparison.

 

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