This article focuses on the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) – the diplomatic body, consisting of representatives of WTO members, that administers the dispute settlement system. Focusing on the WTO, the article provides one perspective on the relationship between international tribunals and the political bodies that oversee the governance of such tribunals. Specifically, I argue that the DSB operates as an important ‘voice’ mechanism, which enables members to provide regular feedback to WTO adjudicators, and helps sustain the internal legitimacy of WTO adjudication. However, the DSB can also be used in ways that undermine judicial independence. In short, the DSB is a key site where the tension plays out between WTO adjudicators’ independence from members, and control by, and accountability to, members. The episodes examined in detail to develop this argument are the crisis of a generation ago over amicus curiae briefs, and the ongoing crisis over Appellate Body appointments.
This article analyses the various ways in which investment law raises questions of change. It distinguishes between changes in international investment norms, and changes in a host state’s regulatory system which is subject to the control of such norms, and explains how these different manifestations of change relate to the distinct yet interrelated issues of interpretation and application. The article explains why, given features of the contemporary investment regime, on questions of interpretation, concerning the content of international investment norms, arbitrators operate within wider processes of law-development over which states, as treaty masters, also exercise significant influence. In contrast, arbitrators dominate the process of applying international investment norms to particular investor-state disputes to determine whether changes in a host state’s regulatory system breach applicable investment norms. This claim is demonstrated in relation to the two most prominent investment treaty standards: fair and equitable treatment, and the protection against indirect expropriation.