The WTO’s Collapsing Judicial and Legislative Wings: Is “Consensus” the Real Elephant in the Room?

Mexico - 2 February 2022

Trade topics: International Trade

Global Trade and Customs Journal, Volume 17, Issue 2 (2022) pp. 81 – 90

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has three main functions: (i) it provides a negotiation forum where Members can negotiate new agreements and understandings, (ii) it provides a judicial forum where trade disputes between countries can be settled, and (iii) it acts as an executive forum for the administration and application of the WTO agreements, including capacity-building and training in this respect. Currently, it is only performing its executive function, as the other two functions remain stalled. The authors in this paper analyze two challenges that have contributed to paralyzing the WTO’s legislative and judicial functions. With this assessment, the authors suggest that the “real elephant in the room”, i.e., the root-cause behind these challenges, is the avoidable “consensus-based decision-making”.