MJIEL Vol 3 Issue 3 2006 - Article 3


Over the past decade, the World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement System (DSS) has demonstrated the value of both first and second level review by an independent international adjudicatory body for the settlement of trade differences. Any assessment of the success of the DSS depends on the benchmark employed. Certainly, when compared with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1947, and possibly other international tribunals, the WTO DSS has been a success. Having said that, if implementation and the participation of LDCs, small developing countries and in particular, African countries, in disputes, are relevant benchmarks for measuring success, there must be considerable doubt as to the oft-lauded success of the system.

The year 2006 marked exactly a decade since the first Appellate Body (AB) report was adopted by the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB). Since the first AB case � the US � Gasoline report , there have been about a hundred cases in which there have been adopted reports . Although the major trading powers have, throughout the 11-year history of the WTO dispute settlement system, remained dominant in the proceedings either as complainants or respondents, with the exception of the African countries and some small developing countries, which have been largely absent as players, developing countries have participated to a greater extent than was the case in the GATT dispute settlement. Whether the high level of participation also reflects the effectiveness of the enforcement regime of the system is another question.

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