What can be done to reboot the WTO dispute settlement system, and what might such a system look like?
The WTO dispute settlement system faces an unprecedented crisis. Although the short-term reason for this crisis is the blockage in the appointment of Appellate Body (AB) members, its causes are much older, numerous, and not limited to legal aspects related to the functioning of the dispute settlement pillar.
Solutions proposed to date have mainly focused on panel proceedings and the functioning the AB itself. While these are obviously important elements, it is necessary to think beyond the contribution of specific bodies or procedures already in place and reconsider the dispute settlement function in a rules-based trading system.
Well before the current Appellate Body impasse, panels and the AB were already working beyond their capacity as the number of cases and their complexity grew.
This crisis offers a unique opportunity to think “outside the box” on WTO dispute settlement. This means improving panels and appellate review, but also thinking about the settlement of dispute in a more holistic manner. The session will discuss ways of reinvigorating the dispute settlement pillar beyond simply adjudication.
- What is the space for dispute prevention, and how can WTO bodies play their part?
- Are panels and eventually arbitrated appeals equally appropriate and effective for all types of disputes?
- Are there alternative mechanisms the WTO might use to prevent or resolve disputes without resorting to panel proceedings or arbitration?
- In the negotiation of trade rules, are there tools that could be used to prevent disputes and encourage more cooperation between WTO Members with a view to solve commercial grievances before they turn into a formal dispute?
In the second portion of the session, the floor will open for a moderated audience discussion guided by the question:
How do we engage new and different players and utilize new procedures or old procedures in new ways to prevent and settle disputes at the WTO?
Continue the conversation in the dedicated chat on the Beyond Trade Network.
This session will be simultaneously translated into French, Spanish and English (when needed) via the Interactio application, by entering the code GTW2020 (please use headphones). Open the application in your Web browser or download it for iOS Mobile App or for Android App.