The WTO Appellate Body at 30: Exploring the Limits of WTO Dispute Settlement in the Next Decade

Date period
23 May 2016

Implemented jointly by ICTSD and the World Economic Forum, the E15Initiative was established to convene world-class experts and institutions to generate strategic analysis and recommendations for government, business, and civil society geared towards strengthening the global trade and investment system for sustainable development.

This paper explores how far the WTO dispute settlement can take the organization as it faces the third decade since its establishment in 1995. As the capacity of the WTO to resolve trade problems is increasingly reliant on dispute settlement, since the negotiating function of the WTO continues to experience a member-induced coma, the author seeks to determine to what extent the void can successfully be filled by the current Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU) and whether there might be room for innovation. The paper conducts a thought experiment to delve into what types of matters the WTO dispute settlement might deal with over the next ten years, in a rapidly evolving global trade environment, and evaluates how well equipped the Appellate Body (AB) is to address them alongside regional and plurilateral trade agreements.