Key Issues in WTO Dispute Settlement

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This book examines aspects of the operation of the WTO dispute settlement system during the first ten years of the WTO. It covers a representative cross-section of the issues and situations WTO Members have dealt with under the Dispute Settlement Understanding. The book is unique in that it includes contributions from virtually the entire gamut of actors involved in the day-to-day operation of the WTO dispute settlement system: Member government representatives, private lawyers who litigate on behalf of Member governments in the system, Appellate Body members, Appellate Body Secretariat staff, and WTO Secretariat staff. It also includes contributions from several academics who closely follow and carefully scrutinize all that goes on within the system. It therefore provides fascinating insights into how the system has operated in practice, and how the lessons of the first decade can be applied to make the system even more successful in the years to come.



Consultations and the panel process in the WTO dispute settlement system

The WTO dispute settlement system is a rules-based system as opposed to a negotiation-conciliation-mediation type of dispute resolution mechanism. The system includes procedural steps that can be triggered by any WTO Member dissatisfied with another Member’s measure considered to be inconsistent with any provision of the WTO Agreement. The system allows the dissatisfied Member to obtain a legal ruling by an independent adjudicative body on its rights and obligations under the relevant agreements. The dispute settlement system of the WTO is thus quasi-judicial: independent and autonomous bodies are responsible for adjudication of disputes although formally subject to the overall authority of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB). The jurisdiction of the DSB and therefore that of the adjudicating bodies (i.e. panels and the Appellate Body) operating under its authority has been accepted by all WTO Members through their ratification of the WTO treaty. Thus, a WTO Member cannot refuse to participate in a WTO dispute settlement procedure if a complaint is brought against it.


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