Available in Russian
Authors: Daria Boklan, Elena Murashko
Keywords: unilateral sanctions; national security exception; trade in services; World Trade Organization; WTO Dispute Settlement Body
Currently Russia is ranked first in the world in the number of unilateral sanctions imposed against it. Most of these unilateral sanctions consist of export and import bans on goods. However, such bans are often introduced together with bans on related services, such as brokering services or technical assistance. In addition, there have been separate prohibitions on different sectors such as accounting services. Fourteen World Trade Organization members have announced that they will take any actions that they each consider necessary to protect their essential security interests. These might include actions such as suspension of most-favoured-nation treatment for services provided to Russia. Such unilateral sanctions are, in most instances, not compatible with the agreements of the WTO. However, they could potentially be justified by the so-called “national security exception” clause of these agreements. In the current circumstances of an unprecedented sanctions regime imposed on the Russian Federation, the likelihood that this exception will be invoked increases significantly. This article addresses the issue of the possibility of justification by the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of sanctions imposed on the Russia on trade in the services sector by this national security exception. The authors conclude that the narrow interpretation of this exception applied by DSB panels in the cases Russian Federation – Measures Concerning Traffic in Transit and Saudi Arabia – Measures concerning the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights would be very unlikely to lead to justification of the service sector sanctions imposed on Russia. In the future, however, DSB panels might apply a broad interpretation of the security exception clause. This could lead to abuse of the national security exception so that national security becomes an exception to the liberalization of trade and that both concepts become contradictory in nature. This would be inconsistent with the essence of the multilateral trade system, which for many decades of free trade generally, and of trade in services in particular, has allowed countries to work together for their individual benefit. Free trade has made countries dependent on each other, fostering greater cooperation and understanding between them.
About the authors: Daria Boklan – Doctor of Sciences in Law, Professor, Department of International Law, Faculty of Law, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia; Elena Murashko – Ph.D. Student, Department of International Law, Faculty of Law, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia.
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