DISPUTE SETTLEMENT SYSTEM TRAINING MODULE: CHAPTER 2
Historic development of the WTO dispute settlement system
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 a ruling.2
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.