You're Fired! International Courts, Re-contracting, and the WTO Appellate Body during the Trump Presidency

G. Zaccaria*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


A long-standing debate amongst international relations scholars has surrounded the question of whether international institutions with judicial authority enjoy more autonomy and discretion than other global institutions. This is mainly because international courts are established as impartial third-party actors tasked with performing adjudicative functions for conflicting parties. As such, the delegation contracts of international institutions with judicial authority are expected to minimize control by states, even in cases where the members of a court engage in judicial overreach. This article contributes to that debate by examining the case of the crisis of the WTO Appellate Body. The article analyzes the Trump administration's successful efforts at rendering dysfunctional one of the most powerful courts in the international system. The findings showcase how powerful states are capable and willing to take advantage of the available control mechanisms and the institutional opportunity structures inherent in the design of international courts. The article speaks to the scholarship on the contestation of international institutions. The analysis relies on original data obtained through 22 interviews with WTO officials, state representatives, and experts.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13032
Pages (from-to)322-333
Number of pages12
JournalGlobal Policy
Issue number3
Early online date14 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022




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