The World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement system has been making substantial contributions to improved compliance with the WTO Agreements. Of particular note are the elaborate multistage mechanisms installed in the system that facilitate and ensure the implementation of the DSB recommendations. However, these multistage mechanisms are not devoid of problems and shortcomings. Several improvements are proposed by Members and scholars but a number of disagreements exist, reflecting varied understanding of the nature of the dispute settlement system. Against this background, this article first analyses the nature of the dispute settlement system. It argues that the primary purpose of the dispute settlement system is not to secure compliance in abstracto but to settle a dispute and remedy injury, and its compliance function is exerted only in the course of dispute settlement. Thereafter, in the light of the nature of the dispute settlement system, this article presents a comprehensive analysis of the manner in which the multistage mechanisms currently function and how they should function.
ASJC Scopus subject areas