Dispute Settlement under WTO

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TRIPS, apart from its other inconsistencies, has not provided a method of solving disputes among parties which is in any way more effective than the previous treaties. As a matter of fact, the dispute resolution process set out in TRIPS is unsatisfactory. Articles 63 and 64 deal with dispute prevention and settlement.

Explaining the dispute settlement process under TRIPS, WTO itself has this to say: “Although much of the procedure does resemble a court or tribunal, the preferred solution is for the countries concerned to discuss their problems and settle the disputes themselves. A dispute arises when one country adopts a trade policy measure or takes some action that one or more fellow – WTO members considers to be breaking the WTO agreements, or to be a failure to live up to obligations. A third group of countries can declare that they have an interest in the case and enjoy some rights.” Disputes are settled by panels of experts appointed by the General Council, called for this purpose, the Dispute Settlement Body and the normal time for handing down rulings, where there is no appeal made, is about one year, and where appeal is made, a further time of three more months would be taken. The Dispute Settlement Body may accept or reject the panel’s findings or the results of an appeal. It monitors the implementation of the rulings and recommendations, and has the power to authorise retaliation when a country does not comply with a ruling. The Dispute Settlement Body monitors how adopted rulings are implemented. Any outstanding case remains on its agenda until the issue is resolved10. Authorising retaliation, even though one country may not abide by a ruling, is not “settlement of a dispute” and invariably the stronger of the two parties always finds reasons to resort to this action.

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