WTO Bodies involved in the dispute settlement process

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3.2 The Director-General and the WTO Secretariat

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The Director-General of the (WTO) may, acting in an ex officio capacity, offer his/her good offices, conciliation or mediation with a view to assisting Members to settle a dispute (Article 5.6 of the DSU). In a dispute settlement procedure involving a least-developed country Member, when a satisfactory solution has not been found during consultations, the Director-General will, upon request by the least-developed country Member, offer his or her good offices, conciliation or mediation in order to help the parties resolve the dispute, before a request for a panel is made (Article 24.2 of the DSU). The Director-General convenes the meetings of the DSB and appoints panel members upon the request of either party, and in consultation with the Chairman of the DSB and the Chairman of the relevant Council or Committee, where the parties cannot agree on the composition within 20 days (Article 8.7 of the DSU). The Director-General also appoints the arbitrator(s) for the determination of the reasonable period of time for implementation, if the parties cannot agree on the period of time and on the arbitrator (footnote 12 to Article 21.3(c) of the DSU), or for the review of the proposed suspension of obligations in the event of non-implementation (Article 22.6 of the DSU). The appointment of an arbitrator under Article 22 by the Director-General is an alternative to the original panelists undertaking the task, if they are unavailable.

The staff of the WTO Secretariat, which reports to the Director-General, assists Members in respect of dispute settlement at their request (Article 27.2 of the DSU), conducts special training courses (Article 27.3 of the DSU) and provides additional legal advice and assistance to developing country Members in matters relating to dispute settlement within the parameters of impartiality called for by Article 27.2 of the DSU. The Secretariat also assists parties in composing panels by proposing nominations for potential panelists to hear the dispute (Article 8.6 of the DSU), assists panels once they are composed (Article 27.1 of the DSU), and provides administrative support for the DSB.



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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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