WTO Bodies involved in the dispute settlement process

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3.5 Arbitrators

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In addition to panels and the Appellate Body, arbitrators, either as individuals or as groups, can be called to adjudicate certain questions at several stages of the dispute settlement process. Arbitration is available as an alternative to dispute resolution by panels and the Appellate Body (Article 25 of the DSU), although it is a possibility that has so far very rarely been used.1 Arbitration results are not appealable but can be enforced through the DSU (Articles 21 and 22 of the DSU).

Much more frequent are two other forms of arbitration foreseen in the DSU for specific situations and questions in the process of implementation, i.e. after the DSB has adopted a panel (and, if applicable, an Appellate Body) report, and the “losing” party is bound to implement the DSB rulings and recommendations. The first such situation, which an arbitrator may be called to decide on, is the establishment of the “reasonable period of time” granted to the respondent for implementation (Article 21.3(c) of the DSU). The second is where a party subject to retaliation may also request arbitration if it objects to the level or the nature of the suspension of obligations proposed (Article 22.6 of the DSU). These two forms of arbitration are thus limited to clarifying very specific questions in the process of implementation and they result in decisions that are binding for the parties.



1. See Section Arbitration pursuant to Article 25 of the DSU  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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