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World Trade Organization, African Court of Human and People's Rights' Registry and Legal Division, African Union, African Court, International Courts, International Tribunals, African Court Registry


This Essay explores whether the African Court of Human and People's Rights’ (African Court) Registry and Legal Division have a similar expansive role in the dispute settlement mechanism as the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Secretariat. The African Court is the African Union's regional body for enforcing human rights. This Essay contributes to the scholarship on African international courts by testing the central arguments in Pauwelyn and Pelc's “Who Guards the ‘Guardians of the System’? The Role of the Secretariat in WTO Dispute Settlement” through a comparative analysis of the role of the Secretariat within the African Court. Despite the growing jurisprudence and influence of Africa's international courts, they continue to be neglected by mainstream scholarship of international courts and tribunals. This is evident in Pauwelyn and Pelc's article, which does not refer to any of Africa's seven international courts and tribunals. For that matter, the article makes no reference to any international tribunal outside Europe or the United States. Our analysis illustrates the fact that the influence of the African Court's Registry and Legal Division (Registry) in the process for dispute settlement is not as significant and concerning as that of the WTO Secretariat. As such, the influence of the Registry on the outcome of a case is significantly limited and does not raise any legitimacy crisis like the WTO. We attribute this disparity to the operational and structural disparities between the African Court and the WTO. In the following paragraphs, we examine each of the factors that Pauwelyn and Pelc raise concerning the influence of the WTO staff in WTO panel and Appellate Body proceedings in the context of the functions of the African Court Registry.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License