Peer Pressure: Correlations between Membership in Regional and Regional Economic Organizations and WTO Dispute Resolution Claims and Their Implications
Alexandra R. Harrington
McGill University - Faculty of Law
November 11, 2008
University of South Carolina School of Law, South Carolina Journal of International Law and Business, Forthcoming
Peer pressure is a well-known phenomenon, believed responsible for everything from teenage experimentation and angst to the cliff-diving habits of lemmings. But peer pressure is less commonly thought of as a motivation for a state to act - or fail to act - in the international trade arena. The goal of this article is to explore the relationship between a state's membership in a variety of regional and regional economic organizations and its history of bringing complaints against fellow members of these organizations at the WTO dispute settlement body in order to determine whether membership in these organizations creates any sense of peer pressure regarding WTO complaints.
In order to complete this exploration, Part II of this article provides background on the WTO's dispute settlement body and the procedure it uses to handle complaints brought before it by member states. Part III provides legal and economic background on the regional and regional economic organizations whose members have complained against other members to the WTO's dispute settlement body. Part IV analyzes the actions of members of the selected regional and regional economic organizations once at the WTO's dispute settlement body. Part V then analyzes the information in Parts II - IV and makes findings regarding the importance of legal structures and a sense of regional communality in the decision of whether to bring a WTO complaint against a fellow member of a regional or regional economic organization. Finally, Part VI summarizes the information contained in this article and demonstrates its usefulness for understanding the past, present and future of complaints brought before the WTO dispute settlement body. This Part concludes that peer pressure in the context of regional and regional economic organizations is more dependent on the structure of the organization and the communal understandings of its members than on the overt appeal of giving in to a state's peers.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 42
JEL Classification: K33
Date posted: November 12, 2008 ; Last revised: April 8, 2009
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