Isabelle Van Damme specialises in WTO law, EU law and public international law, and represents States and individuals before international courts and tribunals.


Isabelle advises clients on WTO procedural and substantive law and represents governments in WTO dispute settlement proceedings.
Isabelle has represented WTO Members before WTO panels and the Appellate Body in dispute settlement proceedings involving, inter alia, export quotas and duties, accession protocols, export licensing, technical barriers to trade, transit restrictions, administration and review of trade measures, general exceptions and the security exception, minimum export pricing, discriminatory taxation and customs valuation.
Isabelle previously gained experience in the area of WTO law as an associate at a Geneva-based law firm. She has also worked as a Legal Intern at the WTO Appellate Body Secretariat.
Isabelle also assists clients on all aspects of the negotiation of trade and investment agreements.
She has taught WTO law at the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom) and the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL) (Belgium).
EU Law

Isabelle has significant expertise in the area of EU law.

Isabelle previously worked as a référendaire in the chambers of Advocate General Sharpston at the Court of Justice of the European Union, where she assisted with the drafting of opinions on a variety of issues, including external relations, common commercial policy, free movement of capital, intellectual property, import licensing, EU citizenship, freedom of movement of workers, consumer protection, life assurance, agricultural aid, fisheries, visas and asylum, access to information, protection of the environment, product labelling, terrorism and money-laundering suppression, protection of personal data and public international law.
Her experience of acting or advising as counsel in cases before the Court of Justice of the European Union includes cases relating to Brexit, sanctions, EU tobacco legislation and the prohibition of using brand names on cigar packaging, State aid, the retroactive application of trade remedies and cases involving the relevance under EU law of the status of disputed territories under international law.
Isabelle advises governments and industry on Brexit. She has appeared as an expert witness before the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee of the House of Commons, speaking on Brexit and agriculture, and before the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee of the House of Commons, answering questions on the implications of the EU Withdrawal Agreement and the backstop for Northern Ireland.
Isabelle lectures on EU external relations law at the University of Leuven (KUL) (Belgium).


Dutch, English, French, Spanish


  • Legal 500 for WTO: Switzerland


  • University of Cambridge, Ph.D in Law, 2007
  • Georgetown University, Certificate in WTO Law, 2003
  • Georgetown University, LL.M., distinction and Dean’s Certificate, 2003
  • Georgetown University, Diploma in American Law and Legal Education, 2002
  • University of Ghent, Master of Laws, magna cum laude, 2002
  • University of Ghent, Bachelor of Law, magna cum laude, 1999


Isabelle has published widely in the areas of EU and international trade law and some examples are listed below.

Monographs and edited books 
The Oxford Handbook of International Trade Law, second edition (Oxford University Press, forthcoming) (co-edited with D. Bethlehem, D. McRae and R. Neufeld).
Commentary on the WTO Anti-Dumping Agreement (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming) (co-authored with P. De Baere and C. du Parc).
Treaty Interpretation by the WTO Appellate Body (Oxford University Press, 2009) (488 pages) (reviewed at 22(2) European Journal of International Law (2011) 571-588).
The Oxford Handbook of International Trade Law (Oxford University Press, 2009) (co-edited with D. Bethlehem, D. McRae and R. Neufeld).
Chapters in books 
‘Facultative mixity and the European Union’s trade and investment agreements’ in I. Govaere and M. Chamon (eds), Facultative Mixity (forthcoming) (with Gesa Kübek).

‘Technical Barriers to Trade’ in M. Hahn and G. Van der Loo (eds), Law and Practice of the Common Commercial Policy (Brill/Nijhoff, forthcoming).

‘Understanding the choice for evolutionary interpretation’ in G. Abi-Saab, G. Marceau and C. Marquet (eds), Evolutionary Interpretation and International Law (Hart, forthcoming).

‘Preliminary rulings’ in J. Huerta-Goldman and M. Molina-Tejeda (eds), Practical Aspects of WTO Litigation (Kluwer Law International, forthcoming).

‘Trade’ in M. Bowman and D. Kritsiotis (eds), Conceptual and Contextual Perspectives on the Modern Law of Treaties (Cambridge University Press, 2018) (with Joost Pauwelyn).

‘Treaties and Treaty Interpretation in International Economic Law’ in T. Cottier and K. Nadakavukaren Schefer (eds), Encyclopedia of International Economic Law (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2017) 46-49.

‘Procedural review in WTO law’ in J. Gerards and E. Brems (eds), Procedural review in European fundamental rights cases (Cambridge University Press, 2017) 209-241.

‘Good Faith in Treaty Interpretation’ in A. Mitchell, M. Sornarajah and T. Voon (eds), Good Faith in International Investment Law (Oxford University Press, 2015) (with Eric De Brabandere).

‘The Appellate Body’s Use of the Articles on State Responsibility in US – Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Duties (China)’ in C. Chinkin and F. Baetens (eds), Sovereignty, Statehood and State Responsibility: Essays in Honour of James Crawford (Cambridge University Press, 2015).

‘Jurisdiction, Applicable Law and Interpretation’ in D. Bethlehem, D. McRae, R. Neufeld, and I. Van Damme (eds), The Oxford Handbook of International Trade Law (Oxford University Press, 2009) 298-343.
‘The Assessment of expert evidence in international adjudication’, 9(3) Journal of International Dispute Settlement (2018) 401-410.

‘Achmea: potential consequences for CETA, the Multilateral Investment Court, Brexit and other EU trade and investment agreements’, International Litigation Blog (March 2018) (with Quentin Declève).

‘The Judicial Trilemma: a response by Isabelle Van Damme’, 111 American Journal of International Law Unbound (2017) 359-363.

‘Professor John H. Jackson and the normative challenges of the WTO’, 19(2) Journal of International Economic Law (2016) 343-346.

‘Case C-414/11 Daiichi: The Impact of the Lisbon Treaty on the Competence of the European Union over the TRIPS Agreement’, 4(1) Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law (2015) 73-87.

‘A practical perspective on treaty interpretation: the Court of Justice of the European Union and the WTO dispute settlement system’, 3(2) Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law (2014) 489-507 (with Andreas Sennekamp).

‘Co-Adaptation in the International Legal Order: the EU and the WTO’, Proceedings of the Bi-Annual Meeting of the European Society of International Law (2011) 311-325 (with Geert De Baere).

‘On ‘Good Faith Use of Dictionary in the Search of Ordinary Meaning under the WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding’ – A Reply to Professor Chang-Fa Lo’, 2(1) Journal of International Dispute Settlement (2011) 231-239.

‘Treaty Interpretation by the WTO Appellate Body’, 21(3) European Journal of International Law (2010) 605-648.

‘Inherent Powers of and for the WTO Appellate Body’, Centre for Trade and Economic Integration Working Paper, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (Geneva) (August 2008), available at <graduateinstitute.ch/ctei/page2142.html>

‘The Non-Politics of Interpreting Silences in the WTO Covered Agreements’, 102 ASIL Proceedings (2008) 420-424.

‘Appellate Body Report, Brazil – Measures Affecting Imports of Retreaded Tyres’, 57(3) International and Comparative Law Quarterly (2008) 710-723.

‘Some Observations about the ILC Study Group Report on the Fragmentation of International Law: WTO Treaty Interpretation Against the Background of Other International Law’, XVII Finnish Yearbook of International Law (2006) 47-65.

‘The Interpretation of Schedules of Commitments’, 41(1) Journal of World Trade (2007) 1-54.

Teaching Positions

Isabelle Van Damme is a visiting lecturer at the University of Leuven (KUL). She previously was a lecturer and the Turpin Lipstein Fellow at the University of Cambridge, Clare College. She has also taught at the World Trade Institute and the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL).

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