The World Trade Organization (WTO) currently faces the biggest crisis since its inception in 1995. Events that appear as bureaucratic chess games threaten to risk the business rules of major trading nations around the globe. On 11 December, the Appellate Body, the committee dealing with WTO members’ appeals became incapacitated after its membership dropped from three – the minimum to take decisions on cases – to only one remaining adjudicator. New appointments have been blocked by the United States since June 2017. This effectively shuts down the body, because the minimum requirement for any decision is three judges. In a recent move, the U.S. government has placed a veto on any funding for the Appellate Body’s secretariat in Geneva, meaning that it will have to stop operating at the beginning of 2020.
NATO summits are usually highly organized events. Heads of State and Government adopt previously negotiated decisions and define work plans up to the next summit. Above all, they aim to demonstrate unity and solidarity so that friend and foe alike believe that the NATO allies will defend each other in the event of a crisis. But this summit threatens to disrupt this process, because no one knows how US President Trump will behave. Will we see a revival of a brash Mr. Trump G7 Summit when the US President retrospectively ‘unsigned’ the communiqué via tweet? Or will he act as a patriarch, whose stubborn grumblings are ultimately met with cooperation, and keep the family bound together?
Like most members of the Atlantic Alliance, Norway has been unsettled by the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. Policymakers and commentators struggle to understand how Trump’s Washington works. Most unsettling, perhaps, is the overall impression that in an ever more complex world and in an ever more challenging security environment, Norway’s most important ally fails to show leadership. Instead, Trump is unraveling the multilateral order on which countries like Norway rely.