THE ROLE OF THE WORLD TRADE ORGANISATION IN RESOLVING TRADE DISPUTES UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW
In 1995, the World Trade Organization (TWO) was established as the only international Organization dealing with the global rules of trade between nations. Its primary function was to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible. At the heart of the system are the WTO’s Agreements, which are the legal rules for international commerce. This study aims at appraising the role of the WTO in settling trade disputes. Specifically, this study would examine the WTO Dispute Settlement System, identify the objectives of the system and whether or not the system allows for the actualization of these objective. The study would also evaluate its performance and make recommendations based on research findings on how the system can be made more effective. In undertaking this task, the researcher would employ the historical record review and library research methods as well as interact with individuals and bodies concerned with international trade, as well as WTO bodies concerned with settling trade disputes, and personal observations. Disputes in the WTO arise when one country adopts a trade policy measures or takes some actions that one or more members considers to be inconsistent with the obligations set out in the WTO agreements. Settling trade disputes in a timely and structured manner is important in order to realize the practical value of the commitments the signatories undertake in WTO agreements. The central objective of the WTO dispute settlement system is to provide security and predictability to the multilateral trading system. In addition, the system is to preserve and clarify the rights and obligations of the members under the WTO Agreements, as well as 7 ensure that disputes are settled promptly and members are prohibited from unilateral determination of their disputes. In carrying out its mandate, the WTO dispute settlement system has decided several disputes among member nations of the WTO, covering diverse areas of the WTO agreements. In fact, the performance of the WTO dispute settlement system has been generally described as successful. This notwithstanding, the WTO dispute settlement system is beset with many problems, obstacles and challenges, which makes it impossible for it to achieve its objectives. Thus, the objectives of the system have not been satisfactorily met due to implementation problems, inadequate funding, lack of transparency and access to the system, ad hoc nature of panels, as well as lacuna’s in the DSU. Considering the importance of the WTO’s role of settling trade disputes to the stability of the global economy, adequate attention should be given to the system. Accordingly, the WTO dispute settlement body should be adequately funded that would meet the increased work load of the DSB. The lacuna’s in the DSU should be corrected and the system made more transparent and accessible to the public. Furthermore, the system should adopt adequate panelist that can meet the increased complexity of the substance of cases presented before panels nowadays.
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