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Chapter 1 — Introduction to the WTO dispute settlement system
1.1 Importance of the WTO dispute settlement system
1.2 The Dispute Settlement Understanding
1.3 Functions, objectives and key features of the dispute settlement system
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1.4 Participants in the dispute settlement system
1.5 Substantive scope of the dispute settlement system
1.6 Developing country Members and the dispute settlement system
Chapter 2 — Historic development of the WTO dispute settlement system
2.1 The system under GATT 1947 and its evolution over the years
2.2 Major changes in the Uruguay Round
Chapter 3 — WTO Bodies involved in the dispute settlement process
3.1 The Dispute Settlement Body (DSB)
3.2 The Director-General and the WTO Secretariat
3.3 Panels
3.4 Appellate Body
3.5 Arbitrators
3.6 Experts
3.7 Rules of Conduct
Chapter 4 — Legal basis for a dispute
4.1 Legal provisions in the multilateral trade agreements and the DSU
4.2 Types of complaints and required allegations in GATT 1994
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4.3 Types of dispute in the other multilateral agreements on trade in goods
4.4 Types of dispute in the GATS
4.5 Types of dispute in the TRIPS Agreement
4.6 Disputes on Articles I to XVI of the WTO Agreement and the DSU
Chapter 5 — Possible Object of a Complaint — Jurisdiction of Panels and the Appellate Body
5.1 Article 1.1 of the DSU
5.2 Action and inaction; binding and non-binding acts of Members
5.3 Only governmental measures of Members?
5.4 Measures taken by regional or local subdivisions of a Member
5.5 The possibility of challenging laws “as such”
Chapter 6 — The process — Stages in a typical WTO dispute settlement case
6.1 Flow chart of the Dispute Settlement Process
6.2 Consultations
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6.3 The panel stage
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6.4 Adoption of panel reports
6.5 Appellate review
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6.6 Adoption of the reports by the Dispute Settlement Body
6.7 Implementation by the “losing” Member
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6.8 Non-implementation
6.9 Compensation
6.10 Countermeasures by the prevailing Member (suspension of obligations)
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6.11 Surveillance until final implementation
6.12 Special procedures for non-violation and situation complaints
Chapter 7 — Legal effect of panel and appellate body reports and DSB recommendations and rulings
7.1 Legal effects within the context of a particular dispute
7.2 Legal status of adopted/unadopted reports in other disputes
Chapter 8 — Dispute Settlement without recourse to Panels and the Appellate Body
8.1 Mutually agreed solutions
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8.2 Arbitration pursuant to Article 25 of the DSU
Chapter 9 — Participation in dispute settlement proceedings
9.1 Parties and third parties and principle of confidentiality
9.2 Legal representation
9.3 Amicus Curiae submissions
Chapter 10 — Participation in dispute settlement proceedings
10.1 Standing
10.2 Claims versus arguments; autonomous reasoning of a panel
10.3 Necessity for the respondent to invoke exceptions
10.4 Judicial economy
10.5 Standard of review
10.6 Burden of proof
10.7 The panel’s right to seek information
10.8 The nature of domestic legislation as an object of a dispute
Chapter 11 — Developing countries in WTO dispute settlement
11.1 Developing country Members in dispute settlement — theory and practice
11.2 Special and differential treatment
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Chapter 12 — Evaluation of the WTO dispute settlement system: results to date
12.1 Statistics: the first eight years of experience
12.2 Achievement of the objectives?
12.3 Strengths and weaknesses
12.4 Current negotiations
Further information
A.1 Table of cases cited in this publication
A.2 Decision of 5 April 1966 on procedures under Article XXIII
A.3 Decision of 12 April 1989 on improvements to the GATT dispute settlement rules and procedures
A.4.1 Working practices concerning dispute settlement procedures as agreed by the Dispute Settlement Body
A.4.2 Article 4.11 of the DSU Ś Replies to requests to be joined in ongoing consultations
A.5 Example of Panel Working Procedures


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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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