Dispute settlement at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is in urgent need of reform. For nearly two decades, the USA had accused the Appellate Body of judicial overreach and action against the institution escalated under both the Obama and Trump administrations. In November 2022, the quasi-judicial system that has long been referred to as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the WTO lost its appellate function as the term of its final Member, Dr Hong Zhao, expired. With the US refusal to reappoint members to the Appellate Body, the WTO’s dispute settlement system has been slowly asphyxiated. The WTO’s two-tier dispute settlement system was designed to ensure that Members had access to transparent, independent and timely decision-making.
WTO Dispute Settlement Appellant Body Membership
Thus, for purposes of AfCFTA sustainability, AfCFTA implementation mechanisms should: integrate inclusive and participatory decision-making process; retain policy space for national interests; and extend AfCFTA benefits to all society groups—women, youth, people with disabilities, and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)—without comprising the sustainability of environmental resources.