WTO Dispute Settlement at Ten: Evolution, Experiences, and Evaluation
Thomas A. Zimmermann
SIAW-HSG (Swiss Institute for International Economics and Applied Economic Research; University of St. Gallen); ASERI - Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Milano); SECO - State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Switzerland)
Aussenwirtschaft, Vol. 60, No. 1, pp. 27-61, 2005
On 1 January 1995, the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (DSU) entered into force. During its first ten years, the DSU has since been applied to 324 complaints - more cases than dispute settlement under the GATT 1947 had dealt with in nearly five decades. The system is perceived, both by practitioners and in academic literature, to work generally well. However, it has also revealed some flaws. Negotiations to review and reform the DSU have been taking place since 1997 ("DSU review"), however, without yielding any result so far. In the meantime, WTO Members and adjudicating bodies managed to develop the system further through evolving practice. While this approach may remedy some practical shortcomings of the DSU text, the more profound imbalance between relatively efficient judicial decisionmaking in the WTO (as incorporated in the DSU) and nearly blocked political decisionmaking evolves into a serious challenge to the sustainability of the system. This article provides an overview of the first ten years of DSU practice, the on-going DSU review negotiations, and the challenges to the dispute settlement system.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 36
Keywords: WTO, Dispute Settlement, DSU Review Negotiations
JEL Classification: F02, F13, K33, K41Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: April 20, 2005
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