Dispute Settlement - General Appreciation and the Role of India

25/08/2008 12:00 - 1695 total view

Thomas A. Zimmermann


On 1 January 1995, the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (DSU) entered into force. Until August 2006, the DSU has since been applied to 348 complaints – more cases than dispute settlement under the GATT 1947 had dealt with in nearly five decades, The system is perceived, both by practitioners and academic literature, to work generally well. However, it has also revealed some flaws. Negotiations to review and reform the DSU have been taking place since 1997 (“DSU review”), however, without yielding any result so far. In the meantime, WTO Members and adjudicating bodies managed to develop the system further through evolving practice. While this approach may remedy some practical shortcomings of the DSU text, the more profound imbalance between relatively efficient judicial decision-making in the WTO (as incorporated in the DSU) and nearly blocked political decision-making evolves into a serious challenge to the sustainability of the system. This article provides an overview of the first eleven years of DSU practice and the current DSU review negotiations. An outlook for future challenges to the article focus on the role of India in WTO dispute settlement, her use of the system and her participation in the DSU review negotiations.