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Clifford Chance

The WTO Appellate Body crisis - A way forward?

Faced with criticism from the United States, the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) appeals system is grinding to a halt. By the end of the year, the Appellate Body is likely to have too few appointed Members to hear appeals (a division of three Members is required for each case). Unless the United States agrees to the appointment of new Members, the WTO’s Appellate Body will cease hearing new disputes, and the continued effectiveness of the dispute settlement system may be threatened.

This briefing provides an overview of the Appellate Body crisis by setting out the legal framework that governs the appeals process and discussing some of its perceived shortcomings. We also consider potential reforms and alternatives to the current system, including recent decisions by the EU, Canada and Norway to establish interim arbitration mechanisms.

Thought Leadership

19 November 2019

The WTO Appellate Body crisis – A way forward?

Faced with criticism from the United States, the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) appeals system is grinding to a halt. By the end of the year, the Appellate Body is likely to have too few appointed Members to hear appeals (a division of three Members is required for each case). Unless the United States agrees to the appointment of new Members, the WTO’s Appellate Body will cease hearing new disputes, and the continued effectiveness of the dispute settlement system may be threatened.

This briefing provides an overview of the Appellate Body crisis by setting out the legal framework that governs the appeals process and discussing some of its perceived shortcomings. We also consider potential reforms and alternatives to the current system, including recent decisions by the EU, Canada and Norway to establish interim arbitration mechanisms.

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