This guide presents the essential sources for researching the former GATT and the current system under the Uruguay Round agreements and the World Trade Organization. NOTE: Main tabs list general sources that might not be repeated in the dropdown tabs.
Last Updated: Nov 7, 2017
Travaux préparatoires, also referred to as "negotiating history" or "drafting history," are the preparatory works, including documents, reports, minutes, drafts, and other materials, from the drafting and the negotiation of the treaty. A state party's materials on the drafting, negotiation and domestic ratification, adoption or implementation of a treaty might also be relevant to your research. All of these are the primary sources, or raw materials, for researching the history of a treaty.
See also Commentaries & travaux préparatoires (drafting history) in the NYU Law Library International Law research guide.
To look for the history of the WTO Agreements or the former GATT, the following four-step research process is suggested. If you need the full text of any GATT or WTO document, or to search for more documents related to your topic, use the official document sources.
- Consult the GATT Analytical Index, which covers to Jan. 1, 1995.
The GATT Analytical Index: Guide to GATT Law and Practice, covers only the GATT, not the non-trade agreements. Although its coverage extends to Jan. 1, 1995, it has very little on the Uruguay Round, 1986-94 (but see the chapter "Institutions and Procedure" preceding the Appendix). After the text of each article and related understandings the Guide presents a summary of the history and drafting of the article, with excerpts from and citations to official documents. It also cites to GATT dispute settlements under specific articles.
- Consult other commentaries, books, articles, websites, or databases that might cite to documents from the drafting and negotiation.
See the next box on this page and see other tabs in this guide: Selected books, databases & websites; Books, working papers, etc.; and Law reviews, journals & articles.
- Search generally in the GATT and/or WTO official documents for additional materials related to the history of the agreements.
- Search for Member State materials, “legislative history."
Start with books, articles and commentaries to see if they cite to Member State materials, such as U.S. legislative history of the implementation of the WTO agreements. It can be much more difficult to locate similar primary materials from other Member States, if they exist.
The 1944 Bretton Woods conference led to the establishment of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and post World War II international financial system. The never established International Trade Organization was envisioned as the third Bretton Woods institution. The original GATT 1947 resulted from negotiations on trade rules and tariffs and the failed attempt to achieve the ITO Charter. See Understanding the WTO: Basics: The GATT Years: From Havana to Marrakesh.