Diversity and legitimacy of the world trade organization’s bench

Cosette D. Creamer, Zuzanna Godzimirska

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter sheds light on the relationship between the composition of the bench and the sociological legitimacy of the judicial branch of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Two identity characteristics are consistently part of the criticism of the WTO’s bench: the lack of female adjudicators as well as individuals with academic experience. Overall, however, the identity of the bench does not appear to matter greatly for how WTO Members evaluate its exercise of authority. We suggest that the role of the WTO’s Legal Affairs Division and the Appellate Body Secretariat in streamlining outcomes and procedures may best explain this, as it helps prevent such diversity from manifesting in dispute rulings. Alternatively, it tells us that judicial diversity matters more for the bench’s normative legitimacy-and for scholars-than it does for governments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIdentity and Diversity on the International Bench
Subtitle of host publicationWho is the Judge?
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780198870753
StatePublished - Dec 10 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The several contributors 2020.


  • Adjudicator appointment
  • Adjudicator characteristics
  • Diversity
  • Judicial identity
  • Legitimacy
  • WTO bench
  • WTO dispute settlement mechanism
  • WTO judges
  • World trade organization


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