A norm of special treatment for LDCs exists and its institutionalization in the WTO Agreements has embedded it in the organization, but it has yet to be fully internalized so that special treatment for LDCs becomes automatic. This explains the puzzle posed in the introduction as to why the WTO focuses on LDCs and their issues and advocates positive discrimination for these countries. By looking at individual issues within the WTO such as accessions, market access and cotton, it is evident that the progress of the norm has not been as smooth as would have been anticipated from a review of the events and agreements in the trade organization relating to LDCs. The case studies of the selected issue areas important to LDCs reveal that the progress of the norm through its lifecycle has been hindered by clashes with other norms operating in the WTO and helped more recently by the LDCs themselves taking on the role of norm entrepreneurs. Full future internalization of the norm depends on the actions of the LDCs in advocating for more special treatment and highlighting issues affecting the norm, as well as the political will of the leading members of the WTO and their ability or inclination to resolve clashes between the norms of the organization.
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