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The WTO Dispute Settlement System: 1995-2010 Some Descriptive Statistics

Mavroidis, Petros C.; Horn, Henrik; Johannesson, Louise

This paper reports descriptive statistics based on the WTO Dispute Settlement Data Set (Ver. 3.0). The data set contains approximately 67 000 observations on a wide range of aspects of the Dispute Settlement (DS) system, and is exclusively based on official WTO documents. It covers all 426 WTO disputes initiated through the official filing of a Request for Consultations from January 1, 1995, until August 11, 2011, and for these disputes it includes events occurring until July 28, 2011.1 In this paper however, we will omit data pertaining to 2011 and only consider the full years 1995—2010. In order to shed some light on differences across WTO Members in participation in the DS system, we will divide Members into five groups, as specified in detail in Table 1. Broadly speaking, these groups are: G2 - The European Union (EU), and the United States (US); IND - Other industrialized countries; DEV - Developing countries other than LDC; LDC - Least developed countries; BIC - Brazil, India and China. The EU is taken to be EU-15, since the enlargements came relatively late during the period we cover. For the most part, the choice in this regard makes little difference quantitatively, since most of the 12 countries acceding to the EU in 2004 and 2007 have been relatively inactive in the WTO. The LDC group corresponds to the list of LDCs prepared by the United Nations. A more discretionary line is drawn between IND and DEV. We have classified under IND, OECD Members, the non-OECD Members among the 12 countries that most recently became members of the EU, those that are currently at an advanced stage of their accession negotiations, as well as countries that are not OECD Members but have a very high per capita income, such as Singapore. The DEV group consists of all countries which do not fit into either of the above mentioned categories, and are not BIC countries either. BIC refers to Brazil, India, and China: the sheer number of cases in which Brazil, India and China have participated, as well as their overall participation in WTO, led us to these three countries as a separate group. The paper is structured as follows: Section 2 highlights the evolution of the total use of the DS system; Section 3 discusses some aspects of participation of the groups defined above when acting as complainants or respondents; Section 4 deals with the subject-matter of disputes; Section 5 highlights a few aspects of countries’ success with regard to the legal claims they made before panels; Section 6 provides information as to the nationality and the appointment process of WTO panelists; Section 7 focuses on the duration of dispute settlement procedures at different stages of the adjudication process; Section 8 concludes.

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Journal of World Trade

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December 11, 2015