Agreement on rules and procedures regulating disputes settlement
Mechanism of disputes settlement of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade was always considered to be one of the foundational elements of multilateral trade system. Disputes settlement having been elaborated in the course of «Uruguay Round» negotiations is an essential step towards improving the procedure of disputes settlement in the frame of WTO.
Comparing to a procedure existed in General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, 1947 the automatism of disputes settlement functioning mechanism has been sufficiently perfected:
- all arbitral experts groups established for examining the merit of dispute, issuing recommendations act on the basis of normally formulated mandate the text of which is given in Article 7 of the Agreement; previously mandates conformation of arbitral groups between concerned parties continued for months.
- within 60 days from the date of arbitral experts groups report release it shall be adopted at the sitting of Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) so long as DSB consensus does not refuse to accept the report or one of the Parties notifies about its intention to lodge an appeal; decisions of Appealer body are accepted and complied with unconditionally.
- in case of non-fulfillment of the report recommendations by the Party the defendant party having lodged a complaint enjoys the right to address the DSB with a request to grant it a permit on recall of obligations proceeding from WTO membership for the amount equivalent to sustained loss; amount of that sum is defined by a dedicated arbitrator.
WTO disputes settlement mechanism is an integrated one which is its essential characteristic, i.e. any WTO member-country has a right to submit its complaint based on provisions of any multinational treaties attached to the Agreement on the establishment of WTO.
If a dispute between the Parties is not settled through consultation stipulated with the procedure then there is founded an arbitral experts group at the sitting of DSB. Such groups as a rule consist of three people having appropriate education and work experience and not being the citizens of the countries involved into a dispute. In WTO Secretariat there is kept a special registry of experts meeting the mentioned criteria.
The key element of WTO disputes settlement mechanism is the provision on the matter that member-countries have no right to determine independently whether their rights according to WTO agreements have been violated and have no right to exercise counter measures. In such circumstances they shall apply rules and procedures envisaged with WTO disputes settlement mechanism.