A History of Law and Lawyers in the GATT/WTO

image of A History of Law and Lawyers in the GATT/WTO

How did a treaty that emerged in the aftermath of the Second World War, and barely survived its early years, evolve into one of the most influential organisations in international law? This unique book brings together original contributions from an unprecedented number of eminent current and former GATT and WTO staff members, including many current and former Appellate Body members, to trace the history of law and lawyers in the GATT/WTO and explore how the nature of legal work has evolved over the institution's sixty-year history. In doing so, it paints a fascinating portrait of the development of the rule of law in the multilateral trading system, and allows some of the most important personalities in GATT and WTO history to share their stories and reflect on the WTO's remarkable journey from a 'provisionally applied treaty' to an international organisation defined by its commitment to the rule of law.



Launching the Appellate Body

In terms of the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU), the creation of the Appellate Body can be considered a major departure from what had existed in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) before it was absorbed by the WTO. Certainly, the Uruguay Round yielded extremely significant changes from past practice, such as Article 23 forbidding the taking of unilateral action by any member of the WTO, or the provision on consensus, which eliminated the possibility that previously existed in the GATT whereby any contracting party could block any stage in the dispute settlement process. These two decisions transformed the system radically, resolving past uncertainties and ensuring an orderly and prompt adjudication of all cases submitted to panels and the Appellate Body.


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