Procedural Agreements in WTO Disputes : An Analysis of the Agreements Concluded to Address the Sequencing Problem in the WTO Dispute Settlement System

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Juridiska institutionen


The World Trade Organization has its own binding dispute settlement system. To ensure compliance with the outcome of the dispute settlement procedures, the claimant Member is authorized to retaliate in case the respondent Member fails to comply within a certain period of time. However, the rules and procedures regarding retaliation and determination of compliance are ambiguous and have caused an interpretational problem called the sequencing problem. To address the problem, the parties to any dispute generally conclude bilateral ad hoc procedural agreements.

However, by examining the procedural agreements concluded to date and by analyzing the potential problems of these agreements, this thesis concludes that due to the dependence on the will of the parties and the uncertain legal status of the agreements, the procedural agreements do not constitute a satisfactory method for addressing the sequencing problem. Alternatives such as amendments to the dispute settlement rules, an authoritative interpretation of them or ― if consensus cannot be reached soon ― clarification by means of a precedent from the Appellate Body, should be considered and attempted.

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