SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

This article traces the evolution of the international governance of agriculture as a sequential process, in which the negotiation of new trading and enforcement rules interacts with legal disputes over the interpretation of existing rules. The interaction between negotiation and litigation has produced a governance trajectory from vague to precise commitments and a strengthened dispute settlement process. We contest standard histories, which identify the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture as the singular event that established agriculture for the first time under the auspices of the World Trade Organization and which claim this represents the legalization of the agricultural trade regime. The case of agriculture contains important lessons for broader debates on international governance by articulating: (1) dynamic feedback processes, challenging the view that bargaining and enforcement aspects of international agreements are concluded simultaneously, and (2) key mechanisms underlying the greater precision of institutional commitments that tend to emerge over time.