World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Roberto Azevedo (Front) speaks at a press conference after a two-day meeting of the WTO's General Council in Geneva, Switzerland, on Dec. 10, 2019. Roberto Azevedo said here Tuesday that as of Wednesday, the Appellate Body would be unable to hear new appeals. (Photo by Peter Kenny/Xinhua)
GENEVA, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) -- World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Roberto Azevedo said here Tuesday that as of Wednesday, the Appellate Body would be unable to hear new appeals.
"As of tomorrow, the Appellate Body will no longer be able to review new dispute rulings," said Azevedo at a press conference at the WTO headquarters in Geneva.
"In this context, I think it's important to emphasize the WTO rules will remain in force. And members, for the most part, will continue to apply the WTO rules out of economic self-interest, commitment to legal principles, and of course the desire to preserve some of the relations with their trading partners," he added.
The WTO chief spoke to journalists after a two-day meeting of the WTO's General Council, which was not able to get a consensus mandate to renew Appellate Body members due to the opposition from the United States.
The Appellate Body functions as the de facto court of appeals at the WTO and is composed of seven members. At least three members are needed to hear an appeal. With only a sole member left, the Appellate Body will be unable to hear new disputes after Tuesday.
"The Appellate Body situation does not mean the end of rules-based dispute settlement at the WTO," noted the WTO chief.
Azevedo said that members will continue to resolve WTO disputes through consultations and panels, and they will also use other mechanisms envisaged in WTO agreements to resolve disputes and review rulings such as arbitration.
He said that the organization's members had been clear about their desire to have a two-step review process.
"So, our duty is to find and deliver a durable solution," he said.
Azevedo said he was himself starting intensive consultations with members to determine what more is needed.
On Monday, Azevedo announced that he would launch "more intensive, high-level" consultations on how to resolve the longstanding impasse over the appointment of Appellate Body members.