CIGI’s International Law Research Program (ILRP) is delighted to host the following Public Half Day Conference on the WTO Dispute Settlement System.

The WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism (DSM) has served the multilateral trading system well since the founding of the WTO. Its system of compulsory jurisdiction, transparent and predictable procedures, appellate review and negative consensus establishment of panels and adoption of reports have allowed it to become one of the most prolific and effective systems of international adjudication in history.

The past success of the DSM does not, however, guarantee its future success. A number of practical, institutional and political challenges have converged to pose the greatest threat to the DSM since its creation. The increasing complexity of disputes compound growing workload problems, which in turn heighten concerns about access and inclusiveness. Simmering disagreements about the function of the system have been exacerbated by the recent populist skepticism of the institutions of globalization. These pressures have culminated in an impasse in the appointment of new Appellate Body members that threatens to grind the system to a halt at a time when it may be needed most.

What needs to be done to preserve the effectiveness of the DSM? How can governance be improved to strengthened the system? How can existing adjudicative practices be improved to respond to the new environment? This two - part panel brings together former members of the Appellate Body and the WTO secretariat, government practitioners and other experts in dispute resolution. They will engage in a wide - ranging debate of the challenges facing the DSM and consider options for strengthening it so that it may sur vive the turbulent times facing the multilateral trading system.

Event Speakers

Photo of Hugo Perezcano Díaz

Hugo Perezcano Díaz

Deputy Director, International Economic Law

Hugo Perezcano Díaz is deputy director of international economic law with the International Law Research Program (ILRP) and was previously a CIGI senior fellow with the ILRP. Prior to joining CIGI, he was an attorney and international trade consultant in his private practice.

James Bacchus

James Bacchus

Senior Fellow

James Bacchus is a senior fellow with CIGI’s International Law Research Program, as well as the Distinguished University Professor of Global Affairs and director of the Center for Global Economic and Environmental Opportunity at the University of Central Florida. 

Photo of Maria Panezi

Maria Panezi

Research Fellow, ILRP

Maria Panezi is a research fellow with CIGI’s International Law Research Program. She holds a Ph.D. in law from Osgoode Hall Law School at York University, where she wrote her dissertation on transparency in the World Trade Organization.

Photo of Oonagh Fitzgerald

Oonagh Fitzgerald

Director of the International Law Research Program

As director of CIGI’s International Law Research Program, Oonagh Fitzgerald established and oversees CIGI’s international law research agenda, which includes policy-relevant research on issues of international economic law, environmental law, intellectual property law and innovation, and Indigenous law.

Robert Macdougall

Robert McDougall

Senior Fellow

Robert McDougall is a senior fellow with CIGI’s International Law Research Program. His focus is on international trade cooperation, multilateral governance, China and the World Trade Organization, digital trade and dispute settlement. He is also a visiting fellow in the Centre for Trade and Economic Integration at the Graduate Institute of Geneva

Valerie Hughes

Valerie Hughes

Senior Fellow

Valerie Hughes is a CIGI senior fellow and an adjunct assistant professor of law at Queen’s University. An expert in international trade law and international dispute settlement, she served as director of the Legal Affairs Division of the World Trade Organization (WTO) from 2010 to 2016 and as director of the WTO Appellate Body Secretariat from 2001 to 2005. Valerie also spent 22 years with the Government of Canada, and litigated before international courts and tribunals on trade law, investment law, and law of the sea matters.

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