Dispute Resolution

World Trade Organization (WTO)

Dispute Resolution

Trade relations often involve conflicting interests between countries.  The dispute resolution procedures are a hallmark of the WTO.  Without a means of settling disputes, the rules-based system of the WTO would be less effective because the rules would not be enforced. 

All rights and obligations are enforceable through the WTO’s Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes.  Any WTO member country can ask a panel of three judges to rule that another member country has violated a WTO obligation. 

A panel will decide if a domestic measure (for example, national law or regulation) is inconsistent with a WTO obligation.  Once a measure has been determined to be in violation of a WTO obligation, the offending country must move to make the measure compliant with WTO rules.

In the event of non-compliance, the panel can recommend compensation, and the suspension of trade concessions until the measure in violation of a WTO obligation is removed.  There are strict timeframes for the various stages of the panel’s work to ensure that cases are not dragged out.

The WTO’s dispute settlement provision will be especially important to Afghanistan.  As one of the world’s twenty landlocked Least Developing countries, it suffers from a litany of trade-related problems.  Transit and trade facilitation are often thorny issues with its neighbors.  

At the same time, trade will be critical to Afghanistan’s economic growth and development, particularly after the transition of international forces, now scheduled for 2014.  The WTO’s dispute settlement agreement will allow Afghanistan to seek redress and compensation for any violations in WTO legal rules by its neighbors and trading partners.