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The public watched the proceedings from a separate room at the WTO headquarters, via closed-circuit broadcast.
The decision was taken by the
members of the dispute settlement panel after a request from the parties: Canada, European Communities, United States.
Ambassador Don Stephenson of Canada
said that “the closed process leaves the public, even parliamentarians and
interested non-governmental organizations to imagine the worst of the
process, and to question its legitimacy”. He added that “countries
presenting reasoned arguments before impartial judges and under
international law...is something that should be celebrated, not hidden
Mr. David Shark of the United States said that his country “has been
seeking open panel meetings for quite some time and at each panel meeting
or proceeding that we have participated in, we have proposed this to our
fellow disputants”. “We are particularly pleased that the panel itself has
taken the decision to open the meeting to the public,” he said.
Mr. Fabian Delcros of the European Communities said it was important that
the public and interested organizations “see that the WTO procedures are
objective, impartial and professional”. He added that it was also
important for interested WTO members to be in a position “to simply come
here, take note, and see for themselves what's happening”.
The proceedings for this meeting of the panel are scheduled to go until 15 September, and they are part of the case “Continued suspension of obligations in the EC — hormones dispute” a dispute brought by the EC against Canada and the US. The panel stage of dispute settlement cases normally takes from six to nine months to complete.
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