Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines

Remarks delivered by Ambassador Vanheukelen on the occasion of the farewell reception of Mr Van den Bossche hosted by the European Union on 28 May 2019

Geneva, 29/05/2019 - 17:39, UNIQUE ID: 190529_16

Remarks on Mr Van den Bossche's departure from the Appellate Body


Dear friends,

It is a great pleasure for me personally to welcome you today to this little reception in honour of my fellow countryman, Peter Van den Bossche.

It has been said that Peter is one of the most distinguished legal scholars in the field of international economic law of his generation.  He makes us proud, both as Europeans and as Belgians.

Peter started his legal career with a degree from the University of Antwerp in Belgium.  He then studied at the "Mecca" of international trade law, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, at the time of the renowned professor John Jackson.  He completed his studies with a Ph.D. at the European University Institute in Florence.

His academic excellence allowed him to pursue a very successful career as a University professor.  He worked for many years as a Professor of international economic law at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands.  He has also worked as a visiting professor in the four corners of the world.  He has been a mentor for many young lawyers, who have completed their research projects under his guidance.

However, Peter has been much more than a "pure" academic.  From the beginning of his career, he has been intimately involved with the adjudication of legal disputes.  Right after the completion of his PhD, he worked as an assistant to one of the Advocate-Generals of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. 

His experience in Luxembourg consolidated his view that international problems can only be effectively resolved peacefully through international cooperation and the application of the rule of law.  These convictions brought him to Geneva.

He first worked as a member of the Secretariat of the Appellate Body during the first, "formative" years of the WTO.  And, he returned, in 2009, as a Member of the Appellate Body

Peter, you know that the European Union is deeply attached to a rules-based multilateral trading system, for which there are no attractive alternatives. And for rights and obligations to be upheld, they need to be enforceable in a fair and predictable manner. To the EU that concretely means a dispute settlement system than encompasses binding, two-stage, adjudication where the membership adopts Panel or Appellate Body reports unconditionally bar consensus to the contrary. These are the hallmarks of the WTO's unique system, which we, as EU, wish to see continued and improved, and which you, as AB member, have served with dedication and conviction the past ten years. 

Distinguished law professor and mentor for the younger generations.  Respected international adjudicator.  Successful author of a number of books and articles on international trade law, the most popular being the "Law and Policy of the World Trade Organisation", which has already gone through 4 editions and has become a locus classicus for lawyers and non-lawyers alike.

But, Peter has achieved even more than that.  He has found the time to help with his vast knowledge in particular, the developing world.  The list of countries, to which he has offered capacity building and consultancy activities, is very long and it includes some of least developed countries.

In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, the European Union and I personally wish Peter the best for his future endeavours and we thank him for his life-long devotion to international cooperation and the rule of law, the cornerstones of a global governance that brings peace and prosperity.

Cheers, Peter.


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