Twenty years of the WTO Appellate Body’s “fragmentation jurisprudence”

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


– This paper aims to reflect on the first 20 years of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body’s jurisprudence, specifically as it relates to questions of normative fragmentation. It provides an overview of some of the highlights of the WTO’s jurisprudence as it pertains to fragmentation, with particular focus on the use of general public international law in the context of the WTO dispute settlement.

– The paper adopts a traditional interpretive legal method, applied to the case law of the WTO.

– The paper suggests that the Appellate Body’s approach has not been driven by the institutional myopia and normative closure of which they are sometimes accused, but rather a judicial sensibility which (rightly or wrongly) valorises the virtues of modesty, caution and self-restraint.

– The paper contributes to the literature on the causes of fragmentation, drawing attention in particular to the importance of international lawyers and tribunals in contributing to fragmentation, not just responding to it. The fragmentation of international law is, in part, the product of ongoing boundary work, and the “fragmentation jurisprudence” of the Appellate Body has predictably involved boundary work of a particularly intense kind.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-125
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of International Trade Law and Policy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • WTO
  • fragmentation
  • appellate body
  • dispute settlement
  • general public international law
  • jurisprudence

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Twenty years of the WTO Appellate Body’s “fragmentation jurisprudence”'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this