DISPUTE SETTLEMENT SYSTEM TRAINING MODULE: CHAPTER
Historic development of the WTO dispute settlement system
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Major changes in the Uruguay Round
As part of the results of the Uruguay Round, the DSU introduced a significantly strengthened dispute settlement system. It provided more detailed procedures for the various stages of a dispute, including specific time-frames. As a result, the DSU contains many deadlines, so as to ensure prompt settlement of disputes. The new dispute settlement system is also an integrated framework that applies to all covered agreements with only minor variations.1
Arguably, its most important innovation is that the
DSU eliminated the right of individual parties, typically the one whose measure
is being challenged, to block the establishment of panels or the adoption of
a report. Now, the DSB automatically
establishes panels and adopts panel and Appellate Body reports unless there
is a consensus not to do so. This “negative” consensus rule contrasts sharply
with the practice under the GATT 1947 and also applies, in addition to the
establishment of panels and the adoption of panel and Appellate Body reports,
to the authorization of countermeasures against a party which fails to implement
Other important new features of the (WTO) dispute settlement system are the appellate review of panel reports and a formal surveillance of implementation following the adoption of panel (and Appellate Body) reports.