Africa has joined the rest of the world in opposing the US position in the World Trade Organisation (WTO). A large majority of WTO member states now openly oppose US veto power on judicial appointments, with all 43 African member countries now joining the list of nations in opposition.
The US is blocking new trade appointments because it says members of WTO's Appellate Body have strayed from their role, overstepped their mandate, and broken their own procedural rules.
According to critics, US president Trump wants to neutralise the court because it can override US law, and US officials want revenge for rulings that went against US tariffs. While the US's veto power is not affected, it does show that the country is becoming increasingly isolated.
The opposition complicates matters, however. The Appellate Body needs 3 members to hear appeals in international trade disputes. From December 11, it will be down to one. Therefore, countries may be able to avoid trade enforcement because legal disputes will go in limbo.
"The African group is acutely aware that an urgent solution is required to ensure the effective functioning of WTO's Appellate Body as a legitimate forum where all members can exercise equal opportunity in enforcing their rights. We urge members to engage in a solution-based approach and call on members to fill vacancies in the Appellate Body immediately." The statement from the African group said.
The African member states suggested several rule changes to ensure the system keeps working, including increasing the number of Appellate Body members from 7 to 9, introducing non-renewable 7-year terms, allowing members to finish cases for two years after their term and giving them longer to complete each case, and launching the selection of new judges automatically at least 3 month's before an incumbent's term ends.
Header Image Credit: Time Magazine