The WTO is a gross affront to democracy. It has the potential to pressure countries to change policies and decisions reached through democratic means. The WTO does not allow for public participation in decisions and the decisionmakers are only accountable to the WTO.
As seen by the Dolphin-Tuna ruling, the WTO undermines democractic decisions, including such important laws as the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the US Endangered Species Act. The WTO's ruling against the US Tuna-Dolphin law resulted in the US Congress modifying its definition of Dolphin-Safe in order that the US could appease the WTO panel. In a democratic society, international trade and environmental decisions are made through a representative system. If the representative system can be influenced because of the economic concerns that are manifested outside the representative system (i.e., a separate body, such as th WTO), citizens will lose control of the democratic process.
Within the WTO, there is no accountability of the decisionmakers back to the general public. The decisionmakers on the panels are appointed, not elected officials. They are not representatives of the nations by whom the dispute is being made. It is important to differentiate the WTO panels from a judicial branch of government which is a part of a system of checks and balances. The WTO panels exist in a vacuum, accountable to no one, with no public opportunity to appeal the decision.
Through the WTO, there is no opportunity to participate to effect the outcome, unless you are a nation that signed that agreement. Citizens and NGOs of nations are excluded from participating. Unlike in other international bodies, such as the United Nations, NGOs cannot directly participate in the decisionmaking process. In democratic countries or where NGOs hold the same view on trade as their countries, NGOs can often submit information through the government trade representatives. However, the voices of those who disagree with their nations' opinions on global trade, often cannot get their views included for consideration by the WTO panels.