WTO Dispute Settlement Body

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Who controls WTO dispute settlement? Reflections on the Appellate Body’s crisis from a socio-professional perspective

  Last month marked a crucial moment in the history of the World Trade Organization (WTO)’s dispute settlement system. On 10 December 2019, the terms of office of Appellate Body (AB) members Ujal Bhatia and Thomas Graham came to an end, thereby leaving the World Trade Court without the minimum complement of adjudicators necessary to carry out its functions. As is well known, this paralysis was triggered by the United States (US)’ consistent veto on the appointment of new appellate judges, justified on grounds of the court’s ‘overreach’, its undue reliance on ‘precedent’, and its alleged disregard for the rules set forth under the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU). In November 2019, the US doubled down by threatening to freeze the WTO’s 2020 budget absent draconian cuts to the AB’s funding. Predictably, this prompted the vehement reaction of numerous other Members, which accused the US of holding the WTO appellate system hostage of its own concerns. Much has been written about this institutional crisis. Yet, the notion of ‘crisis’ deserves some further……

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Living in the Shadow of Flawed Peace: How General International Law Is Implicated in the Trade War between Japan and South Korea

As the anniversary of V-J Day approaches, the legacy of World War II still casts a long shadow on its previous Pacific theatre.  Last month, an unprecedented quadripartite incident involving warplanes from, inter alia, Japan and South Korea played out in the territorial airspace of the contested Dokdo/Takeshima islands, disputed territory that was left unresolved in the…

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The WTO Panel Ruling on the National Security Exception: Has the Panel ‘Cut’ the Baby in Half?

Recently, media attention has been captured by the unravelling trade war between the declining western hegemon and the rising eastern mega-power with other discussions, such as the reform of the WTO dispute settlement system, reflecting the points of the growing divergence between the two. Against this backdrop, the  Russia – Traffic in Transit…

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The Reviewability of the Security Exception in GATT Article XXI in Russia – Traffic in Transit: Implications for South China Sea Investment Disputes in GATT Article XXI-type Clauses in ASEAN Regional Investment Treaties

The landmark WTO Panel Report on security exceptions in GATT Article XXI came out Friday last week in Russia - Traffic in Transit.  I have written extensively about necessity and national emergency clauses in the past - particularly to reject the position of the supposed wholesale unreviewability of these clauses in the Schmittian sense (on GATT Article…

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WTO Dispute on the US Human Rights Sanctions is Looming on the Horizon

At the turn of the year, Venezuela initiated a WTO dispute with the United States. In a nutshell, Venezuela questions WTO-consistency of a number of coercive trade-restrictive measures (economic sanctions) imposed by the United States. Some of those restrictions were allegedly imposed on the human rights grounds. US sanctions against Venezuela The…

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