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

30 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2015

See all articles by Gregory Shaffer

Gregory Shaffer

University of California, Irvine School of Law

Manfred Elsig

World Trade Institute

Sergio Puig

University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law

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Date Written: March 26, 2015

Abstract

The authority of an international court (IC) is not necessarily evolutionary and its development unidirectional. This article addresses 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 more 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 judicialized WTO dispute settlement system with a sophisticated case law) and presents empirical indicators of the rise of the AB’s authority. Such rapid development of extensive 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: WTO, Appellate Body, international court, court authority, dispute settlement

Suggested Citation

Shaffer, Gregory C. and Elsig, Manfred and Puig, Sergio, The Extensive (But Fragile) Authority of the WTO Appellate Body (March 26, 2015). Law and Contemporary Problems, 2015, Forthcoming; Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 15-17. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2586131

Gregory C. Shaffer

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

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

Manfred Elsig

World Trade Institute ( email )

Gesellschaftsstrasse 49
Bern, BERN 3001
Switzerland

Sergio Puig (Contact Author)

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

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

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