Afterword: Robert Howse and His Critics

The WTO 20 Years On: 'Global Governance by Judiciary or, Rather, Member-driven Settlement of (Some) Trade Disputes between (Some) WTO Members?

Abstract

<it>In this response to Robert Howse’s</it> EJIL <it>Foreword article, it is argued that Howse overestimates the extent and type of effectiveness and legitimacy achieved by the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) dispute settlement system to date. Moreover, the effectiveness and legitimacy the system has built up has not been achieved by the Appellate Body ‘distancing itself’ from WTO members or the Geneva-based trade policy elite but, rather, because panels and the Appellate Body have, for the most part, skilfully read, reflected and responded to underlying and evolving WTO member country preferences. The system’s success flows not from Herculian ‘declarations of independence’ by the Appellate Body or ‘open conflict with the trade policy elite’. On the contrary, it is largely explained by the Appellate Body’s ‘judicial minimalism’ (to which Howse refers) and the subtle, informal symbiosis that has emerged between the WTO Secretariat, panels and the Appellate Body, on the one hand, and WTO members and the Geneva-based trade policy elite, on the other</it>.