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Durham University

Durham Law School

Staff profile

Publication details for Professor Ming Du

Du, Ming (Accepted). Clearing the fog: Forest Stewardship Council labelling and the World Trade Organization. Review of European, Comparative & International Environmental Law

Author(s) from Durham


This article aims to clarify three long-standing puzzles concerning the place of private standards in the World Trade Organization (WTO) through the lens of FSC labelling. The first question is whether the FSC label falls within the regulatory scope of the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement). The second question is the extent of WTO member States’ obligations under the TBT Agreement if the FSC is an active standardizing body in their territories. The third question asks whether the FSC standard may qualify as an ‘international standard’ as defined in the TBT Agreement and thus may exert quasi-legislative effects on WTO members’ national forest conservation laws and regulations. A detailed case study of the relationship between the FSC labelling and the TBT Agreement shows that the answers to these questions are much more nuanced than the existing scholarship suggests.