Saturday, September 15, 2007

WTO: Nominations for Appellate Body Membership

The deadline for the receipt of nominations for four positions on the WTO's Appellate Body (AB) was August 31. A WTO news item noted that nominations were submitted by Benin, China, Japan, Korea, Pakistan, and the Philippines for the positions currently held by Egyptian (Georges Abi-Saab), Indian (A.V. Ganesan), Japanese (Yasuhei Taniguchi), and U.S. (Merit Janow) nationals. The absence of a U.S. nomination was odd, as a U.S. national has always been a member of the AB. (Egypt and Japan have also had continuous representation on the seven-member AB since its inception in 1995.) Simon Lester, at the International Economic Law and Policy Blog, quite rightly registered his surprise that the United States would voluntarily concede the seat. A subsequent comment on Lester's post by David Palmeter provided an explanation: the United States nominated two individuals (Jane Bradley and Jennifer Hillman, both former officials at the Office of the United States Trade Representative), but did so after the close of business on the 31st, by which time the WTO news item had already been released. Reportedly, China also submitted two nominations: Zhang Yuejiao (a law professor and former government official who was also nominated for an earlier opening) and Zhang Yuqing (an attorney and former government official). Japan has nominated Shotaro Oshima, its former ambassador and permanent representative to the international organizations in Geneva.

In accordance with a decision of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) at its June 20th meeting, all the candidates will be interviewed by a selection committee (made up of the WTO Director-General, and the Chairpersons of the General Council, the Goods Council, the Services Council, the TRIPS Council and the DSB), which will put forward four names for approval by the DSB at its November 19th meeting. Article 17.3 of the Dispute Settlement Understanding states: "The Appellate Body shall comprise persons of recognized authority, with demonstrated expertise in law, international trade and the subject matter of the covered agreements generally. They shall be unaffiliated with any government. The Appellate Body membership shall be broadly representative of membership in the WTO." It is likely that a U.S. national will again serve on the AB.