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The World Trade Organization’s Dispute Settlement Body approved on Monday the nomination of Dr. Geraldo Vidigal, Assistant Professor at the UvA Faculty of Law, to the WTO’s Indicative List of Governmental and Non-Governmental Panelists. The roster of panelists, kept by the WTO Secretariat, features names of individuals qualified to be members of WTO panels that settle high-profile trade disputes.

Integrating onto the Roster

WTO Panelists must be well-qualified governmental and/or non-governmental individuals with expertise in WTO law. To assist in the selection of panelists, the WTO Secretariat maintains a list of individuals who fulfil the relevant requirements. The list assists the Secretariat in proposing nominations for panels, which parties may oppose only for compelling reasons. In case of impasse, the WTO Director-General may determine the composition of Panels.

Dr. Geraldo Vidigal, who joined the UvA Faculty of Law in 2017 and teaches International Trade Law and Public International Law, has previously worked as a Dispute Settlement Lawyer at the WTO Legal Affairs Division. The addition of Dr. Vidigal’s name to the list was proposed by Brazil in December and approved by the WTO Dispute Settlement Body on 22 January 2018.

The Role of WTO Panelists

The WTO is often hailed as the world’s most successful organization in settling international disputes at the global level, including sensitive disputes between large economies such as the European Union, the United States and China. WTO dispute settlement takes place when Members disagree on the interpretation of WTO rules or when a Member believes another Member is not living up to its WTO obligations.

A WTO Panel is responsible for making an objective assessment of the dispute, providing legal findings and issuing relevant recommendations. Legal aspects of Panel reports may be appealed to the WTO Appellate Body. Once adopted by the Dispute Settlement Body, Panel and Appellate Body reports acquire definitive legal effect and must be implemented by WTO Members. In case of non-implementation, the WTO may authorize the application of trade retaliation against the non-complying Member.