(De)Legitimation at the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearch

Cosette Creamer, Zuzanna Godzimirska

Similar to many types of legal institutions, international courts employ a wide variety of legitimation strategies in order to establish and maintain a sound basis of support among their constituents. Existing studies on the legitimacy or legitimating efforts of the World Trade Organization's (WTO) judicial bodies have relied largely on theoretical or normative priors about what makes these institutions legitimate. In contrast, this paper directly connects the study of courts' legitimating efforts with their effects by empirically mapping how the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism's (DSM) exercise of authority has been received by the system's primary constituents—WTO Members. Drawing on an original dataset of statements made by WTO Members within meetings of the Dispute Settlement Body from 1995-2013 and a series of interviews, this paper provides a descriptive analysis of expressed views on its exercise of authority over time and across subsets of Members. In addition, through an in-depth examination of statements on focal reports, this paper sheds new light on the sources of the DSM's legitimacy by identifying practices that contribute to reducing or enhancing it in the eyes of the primary constituents of this international institution.
Original languageEnglish
JournalVanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law
Volume49
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)275-321
Number of pages47
ISSN0090-2594
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016

    Research areas

  • The Faculty of Law - legitimacy, legitimation, WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism, text analysis

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