The Founding of the Appellate Body

19 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2017

See all articles by Debra P. Steger

Debra P. Steger

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Date Written: July 28, 2017


The WTO Appellate Body has established itself as a leading international tribunal in the world today. However, Uruguay Round negotiators did not intend to create a court. There is no statute creating the Appellate Body, but only a sparse article in the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes. It is remarkable how international respect for the Appellate Body as a judicial body grew very quickly in its first few years. The founding Appellate Body members were critically aware that they had to establish the reputation of this new judicial body, it had to be earned by the quality of their decisions, their actions, their comportment, and the fairness of their procedures. This is the story, written by the first Director of the Appellate Body Secretariat, of the steps they and their Secretariat took, in the early years, to establish an international judicial body that would earn the trust and respect of WTO Members and the public globally. Independence and impartiality are the sine qua non for credibility, coherency, accountability and legitimacy of any judicial body. In order to protect the independence and impartiality of the Appellate Body in the future, reforms to the terms of appointment of Appellate Body members must be considered.

Keywords: International Trade Law, World Trade Organization, WTO, WTO Appellate Body, Uruguay Round

Suggested Citation

Steger, Debra P., The Founding of the Appellate Body (July 28, 2017). Ottawa Faculty of Law Working Paper No. 2017-33, Available at SSRN:

Debra P. Steger (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5

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