The Chair of the Dispute Settlement Body, Ambassador Xavier Carim, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo and the Chair of the Appellate Body, Ujal Singh Bhatia, each congratulated Ms Zhao and Mr Kim as new Appellate Body members. The two took the place of Ms Yuejiao Zhang of China and Mr Seung Wha Chang of Korea, whose terms ended on 31 May 2016.
Statement by Ambassador Carim
Good afternoon and welcome to this afternoon’s ceremony. Today, we will be swearing-in Ms Hong Zhao and Mr Hyun Chong Kim as members of the Appellate Body.
This swearing-in ceremony will include remarks by the Director-General, Mr Roberto Azevêdo, as well as by the Chair of the Appellate Body, Mr Ujal Singh Bhatia.
Let me extend a warm welcome to Ms Hong Zhao and Mr Hyun Chong Kim as the newest members of the Appellate Body.
Ms Zhao joins the Appellate Body following an exemplary career that traverses various sectors of China’s public service, including as a Minister Counsellor in charge of legal affairs at China’s mission to the WTO, and as Commissioner for Trade Negotiations at the Chinese Ministry of Commerce’s Department of WTO Affairs. She is Vice President of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation and a Guest Professor at a number of universities. She also has adjudicative experience at economic tribunals in China.
Mr Kim brings with him a wealth of experience in both the private and public sectors. Currently he is a university professor. Notably, Mr Kim served as a senior lawyer in the WTO’s dispute settlement divisions, as Korea’s Trade Minister and as Korea’s Ambassador to the United Nations. As a trade minister, he was involved in negotiating many free trade agreements and he was appointed facilitator to the services negotiations at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong. At the UN he was elected Vice President of the UN Economic and Social Council where he worked to advance the Millennium Development Goals.
The DSB appointed Ms Zhao and Mr Kim to the Appellate Body following two rigorous selection processes. At its meeting of 23 November 2016, the DSB approved the recommendations of the Selection Committee and appointed Ms Hong Zhao and Mr Hyun Chong Kim as the new Appellate Body members for four year terms starting on 1 December 2016.
It was my honour to serve as the Chair of the Selection Committee, and I can personally attest to the excellence of all the candidates nominated by the various WTO members. I can also attest to the challenging task of recommending just two individuals from a pool of nine extremely impressive candidates.
The number and quality of the candidates put forward for selection is an encouraging sign of members’ continuing confidence in the WTO dispute settlement mechanism, and their determination to contribute positively to the effective functioning of the Appellate Body within this mechanism. I thank all the WTO members for participating in the selection processes, and in so doing, ensuring that the Appellate Body continues to be steered by competent, diligent, and impartial individuals.
Before passing the floor to the Director General, I wish to say a few more words about the dispute settlement system and the Appellate Body. As Chair of the DSB, it has been my privilege to witness the commitment and confidence that WTO members give to the WTO dispute settlement mechanism through their active participation in DSB decisions. This confidence by members illustrates their recognition of the WTO dispute settlement mechanism as a cornerstone of the rules-based multilateral trading system.
The dispute settlement system is nevertheless confronting challenges. Following the tradition set by my predecessors, over the last twelve months, I have concluded each regular DSB meeting with a brief report on the ever increasing workload.
Just this afternoon, I reported that the Appellate Body is currently dealing with four appeals, including the complex compliance proceedings in "EC and Certain Member States — Large Civil Aircraft (Airbus)". In addition, three panel reports were circulated in December 2016 and another panel report will be circulated this week. If these panel reports are appealed, they cannot be staffed immediately. We will not succeed in maintaining the efficiency of the dispute settlement system if a queue of unstaffed appeals replaces the queue of panels that has diminished due to staff reallocation efforts in the secretariat.
It is my hope that together, WTO members and the Secretariat can take decisive efforts to address these constraints at the Appellate Body level so as to ensure the smooth functioning of the WTO dispute settlement system as a whole. I am confident that the new Appellate Body members will contribute, in no small measure, to maintaining its effective and efficient functioning.
We look forward to working with you, Ms Zhao and Mr Kim, and with your colleagues in the Appellate Body to further strengthen the WTO dispute settlement mechanism.
Statement by DG Azevêdo
Good afternoon everyone.
Thank you, Ambassador Carim, for your work both as chair of the Dispute Settlement Body, and as chair of the Appellate Body Selection Committee.
I promise I won’t speak for too long, but let me say from the start that the Selection Committee’s task was indeed difficult. It always is given the high degree of interest and scrutiny by members, who see the AB as one of the most prized assets of the Organisation. But this time around the work was truly challenging, given the high quality of all of the candidates.
I would thus like to extend my sincere congratulations to Ms Hong Zhao and Mr Hyun Chong Kim on their appointment. Each of them demonstrated a wealth of experience and expertise, as well as a commitment to the WTO’s dispute settlement system.
In addition to their experience in public service, Ms Zhao and Mr Kim are also recognised scholars of international trade and international economic law, currently serving as professors in their respective countries. They also have experience in national and international adjudication.
Their insights will undoubtedly be invaluable as the Appellate Body continues its essential work to assist WTO members in the resolution of their trade disputes.
In a little over 22 years, 520 disputes have been initiated by both developing and developed countries. Two-thirds of the WTO membership have participated in the dispute settlement system in one way or another.
We have to acknowledge that such success and trust from WTO members also present challenges, including of an administrative nature. We will continue to work together — the Appellate Body members, the Secretariat and WTO member countries — to respond to these challenges.
The dispute settlement system has been addressing a wide range of trade concerns. These concerns often touch upon global issues, such as human health, renewable energy, conservation of natural resources, and more recently, money laundering and tax evasion.
Recourse to the dispute settlement system has ensured adherence to negotiated rules, thereby helping to provide security and predictability in international trade.
To ensure that the system continues to function at optimal levels for the benefit of all WTO members, each of us has a responsibility to contribute to its consolidation and further development.
Members should use the system wisely, recognising the practical challenges faced by the system as a whole. And they must be willing to work together in addressing those challenges.
The Appellate Body has proven its value, through its rigour in reviewing panel decisions and its clarification of members’ rights and obligations under the WTO’s covered agreements.
The experience and knowledge that Ms Zhao and Mr Kim bring to the Appellate Body could not have come at a more opportune time.
The system owes a large measure of its success to their colleagues and predecessors — the Appellate Body members and panelists who have served, and continue to serve, the system with dedication, courage, independence and integrity.
I have no doubt that Ms Zhao and Mr Kim will maintain this tradition.
Once again, congratulations, Ms Zhao and Mr Kim, on your appointment.
Statement by Mr Ujal Singh Bhatia
Good afternoon. I join Ambassador Carim and Director-General Azevêdo in welcoming you all to this swearing-in ceremony.
I begin by thanking the Selection Committee for its work under the stewardship of Ambassador Carim. I also thank all the WTO members for their active participation in the DSB processes resulting in the appointment of our two new colleagues. Likewise, the Appellate Body welcomes the discussion by WTO members, in the DSB dedicated sessions, on the process for the reappointment of Appellate Body members.
As the previous speakers have noted, the WTO dispute settlement system faces a sharply increased workload. In addition to the four appeals currently pending before the Appellate Body, appeals of several more disputes are anticipated in the coming months including in some very large and complex disputes. In the light of this, the appointment of the two new members of the Appellate Body is a huge relief for the five current members. With the appointment of Ms Zhao and Mr Kim, the Appellate Body is restored to its full complement of seven, and we certainly need all these hands on deck for the unprecedented challenges we will face in the coming months and years.
However, as Ambassador Carim has pointed out, the current mismatch between the increased work load of the Appellate Body and its limited staff resources will inevitably lead to delays. It is important that this mismatch is expeditiously and effectively addressed if the quality and efficiency of the appellate process is to be maintained.
In welcoming our two new colleagues, I wish to highlight two of the key features of the Appellate Body that set it apart as an impartial, independent, and credible international tribunal. These two features are the diversity of its members and the collegiality among them.
Over the last twenty-two years, the diversity of the Appellate Body’s membership has been, and continues to be one of its greatest assets. This diversity is manifest in the array of professional experiences and competencies that the cohort of seven always brings. The fact that we can look at a problem through different lenses strengthens our ability to provide positive solutions to disputes that take into account the practical realities of the multilateral trading system. In this regard, we welcome Ms Zhao and Mr Kim, who bring with them a diversity of experiences in both the private and public sectors. The Appellate Body will undoubtedly benefit from the skills they bring.
The Appellate Body’s emphasis on collegiality is another feature that sets it apart from other international tribunals. I am confident that Ms Zhao and Mr Kim’s respective experiences not only in international law and adjudication but also in diplomacy and trade policy will add valuable perspective to our deliberations and make our institution wiser and stronger.
On behalf of my AB colleagues and our staff members, I offer a warm welcome to Ms Zhao and Mr Kim on their appointment. We look forward to working with you.