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HomePolicy Articles Article Summary

Canada's Secret Constitution: NAFTA, WTO and the End of Sovereignty?

Report by Stephen Clarkson

In Canada’s Secret Constitution: NAFTA, WTO and the End of Sovereignty?, Stephen Clarkson examines the effect of international treaties on Canada’s domestic policy. Treaties, Clarkson asserts, internationalize part of a state’s legal order. According to Clarkson, before the onset of globalization this had little effect on a state’s sovereignty; states were not bound to comply with rules and openly flaunted decisions of international organizations that were deemed adverse to state interests. This has changed, however, with the advent of institutions like the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The WTO, Clarkson argues, has created a new mode of economic regulation that is broad in scope and has transformed the nature of global governance. For Canada, being party to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) further complements the regulatory nature of the WTO. Clarkson cites what he sees as five major elements of WTO and NAFTA regulation: 1) norms or principles; 2) limits on government; 3) rights; 4) adjudication procedures; and, 5) enforcement mechanisms. These five elements, he suggests, ensure that international trade treaties act as an external constitution for Canada. As Clarkson sees it, such provisions pose a threat to Canadian sovereignty.

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Policy Publication Details

Author(s): Stephen Clarkson;
Publisher: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives [ Visit Website ]
Year Published: 2002; Publisher Type: Research Institute
Publicly Available: Yes Research Focus: International; National;
Registration Required: No Language: English
Payment Required: No Publication Format: Adobe PDF

Subjects / Categories:

Policy Articles / International Law & Politics / Treaties
Policy Articles / International Trade, Development & Finance / Globalization
Policy Articles / International Trade, Development & Finance / North American Free Trade Agreement
Policy Articles / International Trade, Development & Finance / World Trade Organization
Policy Articles / International Law & Politics
Policy Articles / International Trade, Development & Finance
Policy Articles / International Law & Politics / Treaties / 2002
Policy Articles / International Trade, Development & Finance / Globalization / 2002
Policy Articles / International Trade, Development & Finance / North American Free Trade Agreement / 2002
Policy Articles / International Trade, Development & Finance / World Trade Organization / 2002


Keywords / Tags:

treaties; sovereignty; NAFTA; WTO; economic regulation; global governance; norms; principles; government limits; rights; adjudication; enforcement mechanisms;