The dispute settlement mechanism (DSM) is the backbone of the
rules-based multilateral trading system. By providing a legal framework
for solving disputes – rather than having them subjected to endless
negotiations, fuzzy diplomacy and, potentially, big-power politics –
the reformed DSM that emerged from the Uruguay Round has increased
predictability in world trade and facilitated an order for fair dispute
settlements open to every member. In fact, the dispute settlement
mechanism has worked so well it was recently portrayed as ‘the only
thing that works in the WTO today’.
But there is a fly in the
ointment. The overall participation by developing countries has been
disturbingly low. As shown in a recent paper by Roderick Abbott, many
developing countries did not participate at all in the DSM in the years
1995-2005. Some observers has used this ‘absences from the game’ to
criticise the whole WTO as a ‘rich-country product’ not in the interest
of developing countries. Others, and more balanced observers, have
pointed to a lack of resources as the explanation to this pattern.
is the low participation primarily a function of insufficient
resources? What other and potentially more important factors can
explain the ‘absence from the game’? ECIPE cordially invites you to a
seminar on developing-country participation in dispute settlements
(programme on the reverse side). At the seminar, Roderick Abbott will
present his new research on dispute settlements in the WTO and discuss
the reasons for the low participation by many developing countries.
This presentation is followed by comments from key trade-policy
officials in the EU, Mexico and the WTO.
RSVP: no later than January 22 to firstname.lastname@example.org