Reforming Fairness: The Need For Legal Pragmatism in the WTO Dispute Settlement Process

By: Webb McArthur


The World Trade Organization (“WTO”) dispute settlement system is intended to be the central pillar of the international trade system by which trade disputes involving WTO member states are ad- judicated, 1 whether regarding trade in goods, services, or in intellec- tual property rights. 2 However, an innocuous statement such as this, when closely considered, indicates potential problems for the system. The WTO is an international treaty-based organization, established in 1994 by 123 countries in Marrakesh, Morocco. 3 In addition to settling disputes in international trade, the WTO is also a negotiating forum and a set of rules. 4 The organization is more than a “table” for its member states, as the WTO website implies: the set of rules includes common principles, which translate into purposes for the organiza- tion. 5 These include non-discrimination ( i.e. , treating domestic prod- ucts no more favorably than imported products), free trade, predictability, fair competition, and the encouragement of economic development.


Download Article (PDF)