Decision of 5 April 1966 on procedures under Article XXIII

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(BISD 14S/18)


Recognizing that the prompt settlement of situations in which a contracting party considers that any benefits accruing to it directly or indirectly from the General Agreement are being impaired by measures taken by another contracting party, is essential to the effective functioning of the General Agreement and the maintenance of a proper balance between the rights and obligations of all Contracting Parties;

Recognizing further that the existence of such a situation can cause severe damage to the trade and economic development of the less-developed Contracting Parties; and

Affirming their resolve to facilitate the solution of such situations while taking fully into account the need for safeguarding both the present and potential trade of less-developed Contracting Parties affected by such measures;

Decide that:

  1. If consultations between a less-developed contracting party and a developed contracting party in regard to any matter falling under paragraph 1 of Article XXIII do not lead to a satisfactory settlement, the less-developed contracting party complaining of the measures may refer the matter which is the subject of consultations to the Director-General so that, acting in an ex officio capacity, he may use his good offices with a view to facilitating a solution.
  2. To this effect the Contracting Parties concerned shall, at the request of the Director-General, promptly furnish all relevant information.
  3. On receipt of this information, the Director-General shall consult with the Contracting Parties concerned and with such other Contracting Parties or inter-governmental organizations as he considers appropriate with a view to promoting a mutually acceptable solution.
  4. After a period of two months from the commencement of the consultations referred to in paragraph 3 above, if no mutually satisfactory solution has been reached, the Director-General shall, at the request of one of the Contracting Parties concerned, bring the matter to the attention of the CONTRACTING PARTIES or the Council, to whom he shall submit a report on the action taken by him, together with all background information.
  5. Upon receipt of the report, the CONTRACTING PARTIES or the Council shall forthwith appoint a panel of experts to examine the matter with a view to recommending appropriate solution. The members of the panel shall act on a personal capacity and shall be appointed in consultation with, and with the approval of, the Contracting Parties concerned.
  6. In conducting its examination and having before it all the background information, the panel shall take due account of all the circumstances and considerations relating to the application of the measures complained of, and their impact on the trade and economic development of affected Contracting Parties.
  7. The panel shall, within a period of sixty days from the date the matter was referred to it, submit its findings and recommendations to the CONTRACTING PARTIES or to the Council, for consideration and decision. Where the matter is referred to the Council, it may, in accordance with Rule 8 of the Intersessional Procedures adopted by the CONTRACTING PARTIES at their thirteenth session1, address its recommendations directly to the interested Contracting Parties and concurrently report to the CONTRACTING PARTIES.
  8. Within a period of ninety days from the date of the decision of the CONTRACTING PARTIES, or the Council, the contracting party to which a recommendation is directed shall report to the CONTRACTING PARTIES or the Council on the action taken by it in pursuance of the decision.
  9. If on examination of this report it is found that a contracting party to which a recommendation has been directed has not complied in full with the relevant recommendation of the CONTRACTING PARTIES or the Council, and that any benefit accruing directly or indirectly under the General Agreement continues in consequence to be nullified or impaired, and that the circumstances are serious enough to justify such action, the CONTRACTING PARTIES may authorize the affected contracting party or parties to suspend, in regard to the contracting party causing the damage, application of any concession or any other obligation under the General Agreement whose suspension is considered warranted, taking account of the circumstances.
  10. In the event that a recommendation to a developed country by the CONTRACTING PARTIES is not applied within the time-limit prescribed in paragraph 8, the CONTRACTING PARTIES shall consider what measures, further to those undertaken under paragraph 9, should be taken to resolve the matter.
  11. If consultations, held under paragraph 2 of Article XXXVII, relate to restrictions for which there is no authority under any provisions to the General Agreement, any of the parties to the consultations may, in the absence of a satisfactory solution, request that consultations be carried out by the CONTRACTING PARTIES pursuant to paragraph 2 of Article XXIII and in accordance with the procedures set out in the present decision, is being understood that a consultation held under paragraph 2 of Article XXXVII in respect of such restrictions will be considered by the CONTRACTING PARTIES as fulfilling the conditions of paragraph 1 of Article XXIII if the parties to the consultations so agree.



1. footnote original: 7S/7. back to text



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This interactive training module is based on the “Handbook on the WTO Dispute Settlement System” published in 2004. The second edition of this handbook published in 2017 can be found at here.

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