Rule-making in the WTO: Lessons from the case of bribery and corruption

Kenneth W. Abbott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


During the 1990s, the OECD and numerous other international organizations adopted conventions and other instruments designed to control bribery and corruption in international business. The WTO, however, took no such action, and a related initiative on transparency in government procurement has not yet produced any results. This article examines what one can learn about rule-making in the WTO from its failure to act in this case. Much of the explanation for the inaction lay outside the organization, in the political incentives facing major actors. Yet structural characteristics of the WTO, its approach to legalization, and its negotiating processes also played significant roles. These factors should be addressed if the organization is to deal effectively with the controversial issues now on its agenda.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-296
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of International Economic Law
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Law


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