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The Politics of WTO Dispute Settlement

Highlights the political foundations on which the apparent power and successes of the WTO are built, as well as the fragility of these foundations.

By Geoffrey Garrett

A robust legal system of international trade dispute settlement may one day emerge in the WTO, and a gradualist and politically sensitive strategy on the part of litigants and judges alike may well provide the best hope of achieving it. Nonetheless, there is no gainsaying that power and interest international politics has been alive and well in the short history of the DSU. Moreover, there are strong indications that this will remain the case into the foreseeable future. We do not address in this article whether the WTO has helped to level the playing field between the developed and developing worlds. Rather, we focus on interactions among the United States (US), the European Union (EU), and the Appellate Body.

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UCLA International Institute