Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Coming Revolution: Women in the WTO

International trade law is typically viewed as a “man’s domain,” but recent action by the World Trade Organization may help to change that perception. By June 1, 2008, three out of the seven judges on the WTO Appellate Body will be women—a truly astonishing feat considering the first woman, Merit E. Janow, was not appointed until 2003, fully 8 years after the Appellate Body came into existence. (That's in contrast with the International Criminal Court, which as detailed in this post today, has had women judges from its inception.)
Judges on the Appellate Body are appointed to four year terms, with possibility of renewal for one more term. The appointment process is an arduous one with candidates nominated by their countries and vetted by the organization before a final decision is made by the WTO’s selection committee. Usually, the process is not overly political, but this time around Taiwan (or Chinese Taipei as it is called in the WTO) objected to the slate of new judges. Apparently, the problem was with the first Chinese judge to be elected to the AB, whose impartiality Taiwan questioned. What effect will this transformation have on the WTO as an institution? It will be interesting to evaluate that question over time. Here is a brief bio of the new judges taken from the WTO’s website (photo credit) :
Lilia R. Bautista (left) was born in the Philippines on 16 August 1935 and was recently consultant to the Philippine Judicial Academy, which is the training school for Philippine justices, judges, and lawyers. Bautista was the Chairperson of the Securities and Exchange Commission of the Philippines, Senior Undersecretary and Special Trade Negotiator at the Department of Trade and Industry in Manil, and Philippine Permanent Representative in Geneva to the WTO (among others). Bautista earned her Bachelor of Laws Degree and a Masters Degree in Business Administration from the University of the Philippines. She was conferred the degree of Master of Laws by the University of Michigan as a Dewitt Fellow.
Jennifer A. Hillman (left) was born in the United States on 29 January 1957 and serves as a Fellow and Adjunct Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center's Institute of International Economic Law. She has served as a member of the United States International Trade Commission, and the United States Trade Representative. Hillman has a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Education from Duke University, North Carolina, and a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Yuejiao Zhang (right) was born in China on 25 October 1944 and is Professor of Law at Shantou University in China. She is an arbitrator on China's International Trade and Economic Arbitration Commission and practices law as a private attorney. She also serves as Vice-President of China's International Economic Law Society. Zhang served as a Board Director to the West African Development Bank from 2005 to 2007. Between 1998 and 2004, she held various senior positions at the Asian Development Bank (ADB), including as Assistant General Counsel, Co-Chair of the Appeal Committee, and Director-General of the ADB. Prior to this, she held several positions in government and academia in China. Zhang has a Bachelor of Arts from China High Education College, a Bachelor of Arts from Rennes University of France, and a Master of Laws from Georgetown University Law Center.

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