NEW DELHI: Keen to put the global dispute settlement mechanism back on track amid the US blocking judges’ appointments in World Trade Organization and imposing protectionist measures, at least 65 countries, including India, EU and China, have asked the apex trade body to begin the process of appointing new judges and fill up the vacancies.
In a submission to the WTO ahead of the mini-ministerial meet in Delhi next week, these countries have sought setting up of a selection committee which would recommend names of potential judges to the WTO’s Appellate Body. The countries said in the submission that they had made the proposal “given the urgency and importance of filling the vacancies in the Appellate Body”.
“This paper indicates the seriousness of other countries on this matter. It talks about appointing new judges and giving a second term to those who are still there,” said an official, who did not wish to be identified. The body has seven members who are appointed by the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) to serve for four-year terms. Three have retired in the seven-member appellate body. At present, there are only four members in the body and if the strength dips to two, the body cannot operate since each case requires at least three sitting members.
Citing disagreements with the procedures followed and some of the body’s rulings, the US has been preventing vacancies in the Appellate Body from being filled for almost two years, affecting its functioning even as disputes continue to pile up.