To AB or Not to AB? Dispute Settlement in WTO Reform

25 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2020

See all articles by Bernard Hoekman

Bernard Hoekman

Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies; European University Institute - Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Petros C. Mavroidis

Columbia University - Law School; European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW); European University Institute - Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS)

Date Written: May 2020

Abstract

Recent debates on the operation of the WTO’s dispute resolution mechanism have focused primarily on the Appellate Body (AB). We argue that this neglects the first-order issue confronting the rules-based trading system: sustaining the principle of de-politicized conflict resolution that is reflected in the negative consensus rule for adoption of dispute settlement findings. Improving the quality of the work of panels by appointing a roster of full-time professional adjudicators, complemented by reforms to WTO working practices that reduce incentives to resort to formal dispute settlement, can resolve the main issues that led to the AB crisis. Effective, coherent, and consistent WTO dispute resolution need not include an AB. An appropriately redesigned single-stage process can serve just as well, if not better.

Keywords: Trade disputes; adjudication; Appellate Body; panels; WTO reform

JEL Classification: K40

Suggested Citation

Hoekman, Bernard and Mavroidis, Petros C., To AB or Not to AB? Dispute Settlement in WTO Reform (May 2020). Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Research Paper No. RSCAS 2020/34, EUI Department of Law Research Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3688359 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3688359

Bernard Hoekman (Contact Author)

Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies ( email )

Fiesole, Tuscany
Italy

European University Institute - Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS) ( email )

Villa La Fonte, via delle Fontanelle 18
50016 San Domenico di Fiesole
Florence, Florence 50014
Italy

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Petros C. Mavroidis

Columbia University - Law School ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10025
United States

European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW) ( email )

Via Bolognese 156 (Villa Salviati)
50-139 Firenze
ITALY

European University Institute - Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS) ( email )

Villa La Fonte, via delle Fontanelle 18
50016 San Domenico di Fiesole
Florence, Florence 50014
Italy

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