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Dispute Settlement under WTO

Dispute Settlement under WTO

There is a mechanism to resolve disputes that have been made by the WTO (World Trade Organization) which is also recognized as Dispute Settlement Understanding and is managed by Dispute Settlement Body (DSB). The WTO is only responsible for maintaining trade between various countries without any disturbance. For resolving such disputes between the parties the DSU works as an instrument for conflict resolution. The process of resolving dispute or settlement is an outcome of the negotiation rounds held mainly the 8th and the final round called as Uruguay round, wherein this mechanism was adopted and DSU was also made to overlook.[1] Thus, to resolve such conflict concerning trade there are various stages to do so such as Consultations, Establishment of panels, review by the panel and appellate body, implementation of the ruling, etc. Dispute settlement is one of the main pillars of the trading system across the world, and its unique contributions to maintaining stability globally are praiseworthy. The WTO works under the rule of law and thus makes trade more predictable, secure, and smooth, as it is all based on the predefined rules and regulations made for completing the case. WTO has a multilateral dispute-resolving system, it has only 136 out of 396 cases that reached the full panel process in the year 2008. The Uruguay round made the structured process along with the clear stages as well as the flexible deadlines and the emphasis is on the prompt dispute settlement. This process typically approximately one year for the first ruling but it has flexible time limitations for cases with emergencies.[2] This also made it impossible to block the adoption of the ruling as it adopted a consensus to reject it. Thus, the solution preferred is mostly for the countries so that they can discuss their problems and settle the same among themselves though the consultation will be done between the governments as the first stage. The DSB is also composed of all the WTO members as a representative in the system., they are the governmental delegates of usually reside in Geneva where the WTO is based and they belong to either the trade or the foreign ministry of the WTO member representatives. The DSB meets all the necessary timeframes made by the DSU and it usually has a common or regular meeting path wherein the staff of the WTO scretreatie provides administrative support to the DSB. Thus in the trade-related disputes the DSB, WTO, and DSU play a very important role as they ensure the resolution of the trade-related disputes in a very well-structured and fair format while also maintaining the free flow of trade and upholding the principle of WTO.[3] 


[1] Ink, Social. “Alternative Dispute Resolution and International Trade.” N.Y.U. Review of Law & Social Change, Accessed 22 Jan. 2024.

[2]Gómez, Carolina Macho. "ADRs' Alternative Dispute Resolution'in International Trade." Cuadernos Derecho Transnacional 5 (2013): 398.

[3] “Understanding the WTO - a Unique Contribution.” WTO, Accessed 22 Jan. 2024.


  • WTO has a well-defined Dispute Settlement Mechanism governed by the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU) and managed by the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB).
  • The article describes that the mechanism was adopted during the Uruguay Round, emphasizing structured processes, clear stages, and flexible deadlines for prompt dispute resolution.
  • The WTO's dispute settlement system is a key pillar of global trade, contributing to stability by providing a rule-based framework for resolving trade conflicts.

BY : Vaishnavi Rastogi

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