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Does It Matter Who Writes Legal Rulings? It Depends.

Does it matter whether rulings delivered by international tribunals are truly written by the adjudicators appointed to the case, as opposed to the permanent staff of a legal bureaucracy working in the background? In his Reply to our EJIL article, ‘WTO Rulings and the Veil of Anonymity’, Armin Steinbach claims there is nothing untoward about unnamed WTO Secretariat staff being the ones technically wielding the pen, so long as adjudicators retain final say over the ruling and its reasoning. In a prior EJIL Talk! post, we showed that international tribunals vary a great deal in their attitudes to this question. Some give assistants of the court a larger role, while others explicitly restrict that role to preserve the legitimacy of the outcome. What can we say about the importance of judicial authorship in the case of the WTO? The best way of approaching this question may be by asking it in its most general form: under what conditions should we expect judicial authorship to matter? This question has received surprisingly little…

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The WTO Secretariat’s ‘Open Secret’: Unpacking the Controversy

Over the past two years, we have had the opportunity to present the findings from our EJIL article, ‘WTO Rulings and the Veil of Anonymity’, to a number of audiences spanning fields from international law to political science and quantitative methods. Though the article makes a number of claims about transparency in judicial settings, the design of…

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Ukraine v Russia: A “Reverse Compliance” case on Genocide

Disputes before international courts and tribunals typically arise out of an allegation by one State that another State has violated international law. The State making the allegation takes the initiative to bring the dispute before an adjudicator. The new dispute initiated by Ukraine against Russia is novel in this respect, since Ukraine invokes the International Court of…

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The EU’s Anti-Coercion Instrument: A Big Stick for Big targets

Applying economic pressure to coerce another country into a particular course of action has been around for a while, as developing countries can attest. In recent years, though, economic coercion has also been increasingly used against developed countries. The EU has been the target of such unwelcome pressure from, among others, China, Russia and the United States.

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Overcoming the Global Vaccine and Therapeutics Lag and ‘Vaccine Apartheid’: Abuse of Rights in the EU’s Continued Blocking of the TRIPS Waiver for COVID Vaccines and Related Medicines

Entering the third year of this global pandemic, the United States posted a grim global record of 1 million COVID cases on 3 January 2022.  This record, of course, exists in a shadow of relative non-transparency about COVID incidences, fatalities, and hospitalizations in many parts of the world, arising either from authoritarian regimes refusing to provide…

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