MJIEL Vol 4 Issue 3 2007 - Article 3

Abstract: The question What is the universe of State responsibility in the WTO treaty system in light of the international law notion of attribution? does not have anything approaching an agreed normative answer in the WTO Agreements. Yet a considerable cadre of panels and Appellate Body reports share the view that acts or omission within a territory of a WTO Member must be attributable to that Member before invoking the responsibility of that Member for the purpose of dispute settlement under the WTO. This core is reflected in the observations of the Appellate Body and the panel in the US “ Corrosion-Resistant Steel Sunset Review[1] and more recently in the panel report in BrazilTyre.[2]�  In the forgoing cases and others, both the panels and AB have recognised that any act or omission attributable to a WTO Member can be a measure of that Member for the purpose of dispute settlement.[3] Although from the outset the concept is far from being entrenched in the WTO judicial practice, the degree of commonality in the approach of both the panels and AB toward the notion of attribution reflects the centrality of the concept of attribution of a conduct to the State in the WTO legal system as part of public international law. Consequently, what are the relevant ingredients that will lead to the conclusion that a particular act committed by individuals or entities in the territory of a WTO Member amount to that of the Member in question? In other words, what is the universe of State responsibility in light of the concept of attribution in the WTO Agreement? This essay tries to throw some light on this difficult question.

* Dr. Ngangjoh Hodu holds an LL.M, LL.Lic (Dr.iur) and LL.D from the University of Helsinki. He is currently a Programme Coordinator on Global Trade and Regional Integration at the Nordic Africa Institute, Uppsala, Sweden. The views expressed in this article are the personal views of the author and not those of the Nordic Africa Institute. The author can be contacted by email at


[1] See Appellate Body Report, United States “ Sunset Review of Anti-Dumping Duties on Corrosion-Resistant Carbon Steel Flat Products from Japan, WT/DS244/AB/R, adopted, January 9, 2004, paras. 81-82.

[2] Panel Report, Brazil “ Measures Affecting Imports of Retreaded Tyres, WT/DS332/R, circulated June 12, 2007.

[3] See panel report Brazil “ Tyre, p. 236 at para. 7.399 and AB report, US “ Corrosion-Resistant Steel Sunset Review, paras. 81-82.

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