The Contribution of International and Supranational Courts to the Rule of Law

The Contribution of International and Supranational Courts to the Rule of Law

Leuven Global Governance series

Edited by Geert De Baere and Jan Wouters

International and supranational courts are increasingly central to the development of a transnational rule of law. Except for insiders, the functioning and impact of these courts remain largely unknown. Addressing this gap, this innovative book examines the manner in which and the extent to which international courts and tribunals contribute to the rule of law at the national, regional, and international levels.

Chapter 5: The Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization

Peter Van den Bossche

Subjects: law - academic, constitutional and administrative law, public international law, regulation and governance


Since its establishment in 1995, the dispute settlement system of the World Trade Organization has been the most frequently used international mechanism for the resolution of state-to-state disputes. Within this system for the resolution of trade disputes, the WTO Appellate Body serves as a permanent court of last resort, which has established itself over the past 18 years in what is now, in all but name, the ‘World Trade Court’. This chapter focuses first on facts and figures regarding WTO dispute settlement in general and the WTO Appellate Body in particular. It discusses the number and nature of the disputes brought to, and resolved by, the WTO since 1995, the identity of the complainants and respondents in these disputes, and the incidence of, and (most importantly) compliance with, rulings of WTO-inconsistency. Subsequently, this chapter focuses on the genesis and key features of WTO dispute settlement in general, and the Appellate Body in particular. It discusses the jurisdiction of and access to the WTO dispute settlement system, its objectives, its institutions and their mandate, the remedies for breach of WTO law and the process of WTO dispute settlement. By way of conclusion, this chapter looks at the main problem of the WTO dispute settlement system and the Appellate Body. While anything but perfect, the WTO dispute settlement system is a remarkable system.

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