Power Plays and Capacity Constraints: The Selection of Defendants in WTO Disputes

42 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2009

See all articles by Andrew T. Guzman

Andrew T. Guzman

USC Gould School of Law

Beth A. Simmons

University of Pennsylvania

Date Written: June 1, 2005

Abstract

Are smaller members of the World Trade Organization able to use the WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism on an equal footing with the more powerful members of the organization? This paper examines the relationship between the wealth and power of states and their ability to participate fully within this system of dispute resolution. Two alternative hypotheses are considered. The “power hypothesis” predicts that politically weak countries will refrain from filing complaints against politically powerful states for fear of costly retaliation. The “capacity hypothesis” predicts the opposite - low income states will tend to complain about behavior by high income states because the latter offer a higher expected return. Using the set of all WTO disputes we test these two hypotheses and find considerable support for the capacity hypothesis and no support for the power hypothesis. We conclude that poor states behave differently than their rich counterparts because they lack the financial, human, and institutional capital to participate fully in the dispute resolution system.

Keywords: power plays, capacity constraints, WTO

Suggested Citation

Guzman, Andrew T. and Simmons, Beth A., Power Plays and Capacity Constraints: The Selection of Defendants in WTO Disputes (June 1, 2005). Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 34, No. 2 , pp. 557-598, June 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1518416

Andrew T. Guzman

USC Gould School of Law ( email )

699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

Beth A. Simmons (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

3501Sansom
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
7817990076 (Phone)

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
99
Abstract Views
1,594
rank
271,430
PlumX Metrics