African Member States and the Negotiations on Dispute Settlement Reform in the WTO
This paper provides an overview of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement system and gives pointers on the areas African negotiators should focus on during negotiations for reform of the system.
It is now widely accepted that an effective and efficient dispute settlement mechanism is especially important for weak and small states lacking the wherewithal to ensure protection and vindication of their rights through the projection of economic or political might. Almost all the African member states qualify as such weak or small states requiring such protection under the DSU. Yet African members are not among the frequent or regular users of the DSU mechanism. Developing countries in Asia and Latin America, in contrast, are among some of the regular and adept users of the mechanism, and have featured prominently, as main parties, or third parties, in most of the high profile precedent setting disputes resolved to date. African countries have featured mainly as third parties, and essentially to defend or prevent the corrosion of preferential trading rights.
With this in mind, the paper proceeds to look at the substantive provisions of the DSU, in as far as they apply to African countries and, after advising African negotiators on what issues to focus on, proceeds to issue a prognosis of the current negotiations.
Readers are encouraged to quote and reproduce this material for educational, non-profit purposes, provided the source is acknowledged. All views and opinions expressed remain solely those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the views of tralac.
* A user account is required to download these files. Registration to the tralac website is free of charge and for monitoring purposes only.