WTO (Negotiations, Regular Work, Leadership)

Appellate Body Deadlock at the WTO: State of Play and Pragmatic Way Forward

The Dispute Settlement Mechanism of the World Trade Organisation is facing the most serious challenge since its creation in 1995. In September 2018, the Appellate Body (AB), designed to have a total of seven members, had come down to a total of three members, the minimum required to form a panel. The United States continues to object to the appointment of new AB members since 2016 to date, criticizing the AB and raising concerns about exceeding the limits of its functions. Several Proposals have been tabled and an informal process was initiated in September 2018 to address the US concerns in an attempt to resolve this deadlock before the departure of two more AB members in December 2019 and facing a paralysed AB. This paper outlines the state of play of the AB deadlock discussions and the proposed solutions, exploring areas of convergence for a pragmatic way forward.