MJIEL Vol 8 Issue 1 2011 - Article 1

Abstract: This article denounces the transparency deficit of dispute settlement in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and critically examines the significance of transparency to the legitimacy and credibility of the dispute settlement system. It reveals that the secret practices of the dispute settlement system under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade are still dominant even though the WTO dispute settlement system has evolved from diplomatic dispute settlement to judicial dispute settlement. The article, therefore, calls on the Ministerial Conference to review the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU) in accordance with the Doha Declaration and the recommendations of the Sutherland Report. It acknowledges the recent efforts of the European Union and United States and other Members (albeit all developed countries) to change the practice of the DSU. However, the article argues, the fairness and integrity of the process require greater transparency in terms of public access and public participation. It concludes with a demand for the formalisation of open panel and Appellate Body hearings, the compulsory publication of parties’ submissions, the recognition of amicus curiae briefs for Non-Governmental Organisations and other stakeholders, and the expansion of private party rights of audience.

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