Reforming WTO Dispute Settlement
41 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2004
Date Written: January 29, 2004
The dispute settlement system of the World Trade Organization (WTO) was one of the most important achievements of the Uruguay Round. Since the birth of the WTO over nine years ago on January 1, 1995, the dispute settlement system, as established by the Dispute Settlement Understanding, or DSU - has played a particularly important role in the world trading system. While the system has been praised by many, some of the specific cases that the system has dealt with have been quite controversial. One consequence has been that there has been considerable interest in modifying a number of the DSU's procedural rules, and WTO Members have spent much time discussing DSU reforms for most of the last six years. This paper outlines the history of DSU reform, examines the amendments that were proposed by the Chairman of the reform process in May 2003, and discusses a number of major reform proposals that he did not put forward. It concludes that the Chairman's proposals were relatively modest, dealing with such issues as sequencing of implementation procedures, remands and third party rights. Among the significant proposals that were not included in the Chairman's text, but which are discussed in the paper, are proposals for the shortening of time frames, the European Community's permanent panel body proposal, various proposals on transparency and amicus briefs, the Chile/US proposals on party control, the Mexican proposals on remedies and various proposals relating to special and differential treatment for developing countries.
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