Switzerland’s Le Temps Quotes Alan Yanovich on WTO Appellate Body Vacancy

For its article “Les tribunaux de l’OMC sous influence,” Le Temps quoted Akin Gump international trade senior counsel Alan Yanovich on the impact on the World Trade Organization’s Appellate Body—the WTO’s highest tribunal—of the nearly year-long vacancy in one of its seven member positions.  According to the article, the member states have failed, to date, to choose the successor to South African David Unterhalter who left at the end of the 2013.

Regarding why this single absence might make a difference in the Appellate Body’s work, Yanovich, who spent 12 years at the organization, said, “Up until now, one of the strengths of the system was its punctuality in rendering binding decisions within the time appointed by law.”

He also discussed how the Appellate Body’s jurisprudential work, over the years, has gained in importance, noting, “The matters discussed are more and more technical, and, often, judges need to examine measures involving non-trade policies, such as health and environmental protection.”

Yanovich added that the delay in filling the vacancy is an unfortunate but isolated phenomenon, one that will cause no harm if member states identify a candidate by the end of the month.