The World Trade Organization (WTO) stands as a cornerstone of the global trade architecture, fostering cooperation and negotiation among its diverse membership. At the heart of its operations lies the Dispute Settlement Mechanism (DSM), a rules-based system designed to ensure fair resolution of trade disputes. However, as a rules-based system for global trade, DSM faces a challenge of representation of its diverse parts encompassing regional disparities, differences in legal traditions, and gender imbalances that impinge on its ability to serve the needs of all its members and maintain its legitimacy. This blog post critically examines these issues and proposes strategies to enhance diversity and representation within the DSM, bolstering its legitimacy and ability to fulfil its overarching objectives.
WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU)
Dispute settlement reform is a priority for World Trade Organisation (WTO) Members as the thirteenth Ministerial Conference (known as ‘MC13’) in February 2024 rapidly approaches. With no sign of consensus among the Members of what a functioning dispute settlement must look like there is a growing feeling in Geneva that the WTO’s crisis is reaching a tipping point: ‘it is reform or die’.
In order to address a scenario where a AfCFTA member might resort to the WTO and still want the dispute to be resolved under the AfCFTA’s dispute resolution protocol, then this article proposes that the latter Protocol should be amended to the effect that, matters raised in the WTO context and in AfCFTA’s context should be considered not to be the same.