The Extensive (but Fragile) Authority of the WTO Appellate Body

38 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2014 Last revised: 13 Dec 2017

See all articles by Gregory Shaffer

Gregory Shaffer

University of California, Irvine School of Law

Manfred Elsig

University of Bern

Sergio Puig

University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law

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Date Written: November 3, 2014

Abstract

The authority of an international court (IC) is not necessarily evolutionary and its development unidirectional. This article focuses on the authority of the Appellate Body (AB) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and shows how it rapidly and almost immediately became extensive, but has since exhibited signs of becoming increasingly fragile. The article applies a typology of IC authority developed by Alter, Helfer and Madsen (2014) and explains the transformation from narrow authority (a dispute resolution venue under the GATT based on political negotiations) to extensive authority (a sophisticated WTO dispute settlement system) and presents empirical indicators of the rise of the AB’s authority. Such rapid development of extensive field authority is arguably a unique case in international politics at the multilateral level. That authority nonetheless remains fragile, and shows signs that it could decline significantly for reasons we explain.

Keywords: judicial authority, WTO, legal field

Suggested Citation

Shaffer, Gregory C. and Elsig, Manfred and Puig, Sergio, The Extensive (but Fragile) Authority of the WTO Appellate Body (November 3, 2014). Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol.79, No.1, pp. 237-273, 2016, Forthcoming; UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2014-54. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2518589

Gregory C. Shaffer (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92612
United States

Manfred Elsig

University of Bern ( email )

Gesellschaftsstrasse 49
Bern, BERN 3001
Switzerland

Sergio Puig

University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 210176
Tucson, AZ 85721-0176
United States

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