Author: Petros C. Mavroidis*
Published: January 2013
Description: World Trade Organization (“WTO”) dispute settlement has attracted a lot of interest over the years and there is a plethora of academic papers focusing on various aspects of this system. Paradoxically, there is little known about the identity of the WTO judges: since, at the end of the day, the WTO has evolved into the busiest forum litigating state-to-state disputes. There are many writings regarding the appointment process in other international tribunals. At the risk of doing injustice to many papers on this issue, we should mention the following works: Terris et al. look at various courts and especially those with opaque procedures regarding the appointment of international judges; Posner and Yoo on the one hand, and Helfer and Slaughter on the other, reach opposite conclusions regarding the “independence” of courts the composition which does or does not depend on the will of the parties to litigation; Alter examines various fora and concludes that, contrary to domestic process where political branches dominate the process, international judges are less subject to appointment politics or so it seemed. And there is so much more. But there is almost nothing regarding appointments of WTO judges: Elsig and Pollack and Steinberg are, to my knowledge, the only notable exceptions to this effect; the former concentrate on the appointment of the Appellate Body (“AB”) members, while the latter’s focus is on theoretical inquiries regarding, inter alia, the appointment process.
*Edwin B. Parker Professor of Law at Columbia Law School (on leave at EUI, Florence). For helpful comments I would like to thank Kyle Bagwell, Jagdish Bhagwati, Bernard Hoekman, Rob Howse, Alan Sykes, and Elizabeth Cooper. Designing an appropriate selection process for arbitrators was the daily conversation I had for years with Hans Smit.