International Judicial Monitor
Published by the International Judicial Academy, Washington, D.C., with assistance from the
American Society of International Law

Summer 2012 Issue

100 Ways


International Law: One Hundred Ways It Shapes Our Lives

100 Ways


By: James G. Apple, Editor-in-Chief, International Judicial Monitor, and President, International Judicial Academy.

(In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the American Society of International Law in 2006, the Society published a small pamphlet titled International Law: One Hundred Ways It Shapes Our Lives. The Introduction gives an explanation for its conception: an affirmation that “international law not only exists, but also penetrates much more deeply and broadly into everyday life than the people it affects may generally appreciate.” This column seeks to elucidate and elaborate on many of the 100 ways briefly presented in the ASIL pamphlet.)

In the last century, probably from very early in that time period, a customer shopping for groceries at a supermarket in the United States in anticipation of a Saturday evening dinner party, or a customer at a restaurant that catered to evening diners with at least a semblance of elegance, was usually restricted in the choice of wines. They either came from France or Italy in Europe, or they came from California. Red, white and blush – basically the customers had their choices of these types of wines from only three points of origin.

A customer at a U.S. supermarket or fine restaurant today, in preparing for a dinner party at home or hosting friends or clients at the restaurant, faces a different kind of choice – wines on the grocery store shelf or from the restaurant cellar will probably be from many different parts of the world. Alongside French, Italian and California wines will be those from Australia, Canada, Chile, Argentina, and New Zealand and other countries around the globe. Moreover the customer may notice something about the price of these alternative wines- they may be less expensive than the traditional wines, or at least not more expensive than the traditional ones, and not much more expensive than wines were in the latter part of the last century.

This change in the availability of wines in the United States from different points of origin did not occur by accident. There is a reason, and the reason is international law, specifically a treaty known as the Agreement on Mutual Acceptance of Oenological Practices, signed in Toronto, Canada on December 18, 2001. The Mutual Acceptance Agreement was the result of efforts by the World Wine Trade Group, first organized in 1998. After the Trade Group was founded, representatives from the member countries early on discussed “differing national rules on oenological practices,” such as “wine making materials, processes, treatments and techniques” which often formed or had the potential to form, barriers to trade. These discussions ultimately led to the signing of the Agreement by Australia, Canada, Chile, New Zealand and the United States. Argentina became a signatory to the Agreement, which has full treaty status, in 2002.

This treaty, according to the WMTG “ is a landmark in the development of international trade. It is the first multi-lateral mutual acceptance agreement in any field,” fully compliant with the “Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement of the World Trade Organization [WTO].”

The Agreement establishes the conditions for the exporting and importing of wines to and from one signatory Party and another signatory Party. However, as the WWTG points out, “market access is conditional on compliance with WTO obligations to protect the health and safety of consumers and to prevent deception of consumers.”

This first agreement led to a second one on the “Requirements for Wine Labelling,” signed by the Parties on January 23, 2007 in Canberra, Australia. This second agreement allows wine to be sold in all of the signatory Parties with a minimum common requirement of information for labels on bottles of wine – country of origin, product name, net content, and alcohol content – all of which must be presented in a “single field of vision.” The WWTG notes that the “Agreement will help reduce costs relating to the production, application and warehousing of labels.”

The Mutual Agreement provides for a governing “Council of the Parties,” in which each of the signatory Parties has equal representation with that of the other Parties.  The Council considers any matter arising under the Agreement.         

There is also a dispute settlement section, which provides, in the event of a conflict or disagreement between two Parties which cannot be resolved by consultations, for the appointment of a Committee of Experts to hear the dispute and prepare conclusions, which must be accepted by the losing Party at the risk of suspension of obligations of the prevailing party to the losing party under the agreement.

The creation of the WWTG and the signing of the Mutual Agreement has had a dramatic effect on the wine industries of the signatory Parties. According to the WWTG, since 1998 “the Group’s global market share of wine exports has risen almost 70% to almost a quarter of global exports in 2005.”

« Back to the Home Page


ASIl & International Judicial AcademyInternational Judicial Monitor
© 2012 – The International Judicial Academy
with assistance from the American Society of International Law.

Editor: James G. Apple.
IJM welcomes comments, suggestions, and submissions.
Please contact the IJM editor at