Post-Uruguay Round GATT/WTO Dispute Settlement: Substance, Strengths, Weaknesses, and Causes for Concern

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Dispute settlement under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (“GATT”) has come under increasing strain in recent years. The major powers often ignore GATT dispute settlement decisions which do not comport with their economic interests. This situation undermines the credibility of the GATT and threatens the system's framework. If dispute settlement under the GATT continues to be ineffective as it has been through much of the 1980s and early 1990s, GATT member states (“Members”) may well lose faith in the system, begin reimposing the tariffs that were present before the GATT, thereby risking worldwide trade war and possibly consequences as serious as the Great Depression. [FN1] A primary purpose of the Uruguay Round was revision of the GATT dispute settlement system.

This paper analyzes the GATT dispute settlement system arising *170 out of the Uruguay Round. The paper initially examines many of the weaknesses existing in the pre-Uruguay Round GATT dispute settlement system, on both theoretical and empirical levels. The paper then discusses the post-Uruguay Round dispute settlement system and how this system attempts to rectify certain weaknesses of the previous system. Finally, the paper discusses problems of the new dispute settlement system, and comments on some implications of these weaknesses. The paper concludes that the Uruguay Round modifications to the GATT dispute settlement system were incomplete and fail to solve certain core problems.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalFaculty Publications
StatePublished - Apr 1 1997

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