Member Participation in the WTO Dispute Settlement System: Can Developing Countries

Navneet Sandhu


Reflections on the progress of the WTO over the last two decades highlights low developing country participation in its dispute settlement system as a fundamental failing of the multinational trading system. Recurrently, this low participation rate has been attributed to the cost of the WTO’s legalistic model in Panel and Appellate Body proceedings, creating a concern of bias. Yet, by focussing on the inherent costs of the system, critics ignore the real ways in which developing countries can and have used the WTO dispute settlement system to offset the costs. Therefore, this article argues that developing countries are more disadvantaged in their lack of internal capacity to identify and progress legitimate violations to the WTO. Only by addressing the capacity issue can an accurate cost and benefit analysis of the WTO dispute settlement system take place.


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