Saving the Crown Jewel: Strengthening the WTO Dispute Settlement System During Turbulent Times

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 4:00 PM - 6:45 PM
Alvear Palace Hotel Avenida, Alvear 1891, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Public Event: Workshop
Dec 12

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

Hugo Perezcano Díaz was the deputy director of International Economic Law at CIGI.

James Bacchus is a CIGI senior fellow, 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.

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.

Oonagh E. Fitzgerald was director of international law at CIGI from April 2014 to February 2020. In this role, she established and oversaw CIGI’s international law research agenda, which included policy-relevant research on issues of international economic law, environmental law, IP law and innovation, and Indigenous law.

Robert McDougall is a CIGI senior fellow. His focus is on international trade cooperation, multilateral governance, China and the World Trade Organization, digital trade and dispute settlement. 

Valerie Hughes is a senior fellow at CIGI, senior counsel with Bennett Jones LLP and adjunct assistant professor in the Faculty of Law at Queen’s University. She spent 22 years with the Government of Canada in various positions, including assistant deputy minister, Law Branch, at Finance Canada; director and general counsel of the Trade Law Bureau in the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (now Global Affairs Canada); and senior counsel in the International Law Section at Justice Canada.

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Program Agenda: Saving the Crown Jewel 336.36 KB