Rethinking WTO dispute settlement poster


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Dispute settlement at the WTO is in crisis. The Appellate Body (AB), the WTO’s highest adjudicatory body, has been defunct since 2019 because the United States has vetoed the appointment of new members. Its absence has also undermined the first instance panels whose reports can be appealed into the void. As a result, WTO dispute settlement no longer functions as intended. Yet, in 2022 WTO Members committed themselves to re-establishing a “fully and well-functioning dispute settlement system” that is “accessible to all Members” by 2024. The race is now on to rethink WTO dispute settlement.

This conference will convene leading experts from around the globe at the University of Ottawa to discuss new approaches to revitalize the WTO dispute settlement system. Co-organized by Wolfgang Alschner (uOttawa Hyman Soloway Chair in Business and Trade Law), Hélène Ruiz Fabri (Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for Procedural Law), and Gabrielle Marceau (University of Geneva), the gathering seeks to support WTO Members’ ambitious target to achieve a dispute settlement reform in the next two years.


  • 24 May 2023, 5pm-7pm, Hybrid Public Panel Discussion and Reception [Registration]

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Speaker biographies

Connected Events

In conjunction with the public panel we will hold two other events

  • 25/26 May 2023, all-day, Closed-door Symposium on WTO Dispute Settlement Reform (by invitation only)
  • 24 May 2023, 2pm-4:30pm, Graduate Student Work-in-Progress Workshop

Call for papers for the Graduate Student Work-in-Progress Workshop, May 24th

The Graduate Student Work-in-Progress Workshop will provide young scholars with a platform to reflect on and discuss reform ideas to address these current challenges. We invite master and PhD students who are interested in presenting to submit an extended abstract of up to 500 words. We are seeking contributions that explore various issues related to WTO reform. Possible submission topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Alternatives for the multilateral settlement of trade disputes
  • The future of multilateralism in international trade
  • The challenges of developing countries in the WTO system
  • The role of environmental and labor standards in international trade agreements
  • The impact of digitalization on international trade

Successful submissions will be invited to present a full paper in Ottawa in the afternoon of May 24th. Each presentation will benefit from comments by eminent WTO experts.

The deadline for abstracts is April 30th. Abstracts should be sent to [email protected] with the subject “Work-in-progress Colloquium.” Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by May 1st. Accepted participant will have the opportunity to take part in the expert Symposium on “Rethinking WTO Dispute Settlement” on May 25th and 26th.

A small budget is available to support travel to the conference.

If you require accommodation, please contact the event host as soon as possible.
Date and time
May 24, 2023
All day
Format and location
Social Sciences Building (FSS), room 4007
Organized by
Faculty of Law - Common Law Section
Hyman Soloway Chair in Business and Trade Law

Rethinking the WTO Dispute Settlement System

Recording of the conference on YouTube