Activities of the WTO disputes settlement body: overcoming disparities




WTO, dispute settlement, trade war, retrospective measures.


Background. The crisis of WTO Dispute resolution body, that escalated at the end of 2019, is not only a reflection of the need to reform the WTO’s trade and economic dispute settlement mechanism, but also a reflection of the leading powers of the world tending for towards bilateral trade and economic settlement relations. It can also be assumed that the trade war between the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China, which began in 2018, was, among other things, the result of an inability to effectively and quickly resolve trade and economic disputes based on the provisions of the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes. While avoiding and resolving trade and economic disputes, preventing trade wars are defining functions of the WTO, that is why the efficiency and demand of the WTO dispute settlement mechanism is the key to the functioning of this international organization and the provision of multilateral regulation of world trade and economic relations.
Analysis of recent research and publications. One of the most thorough domestic investigations into the WTO dispute settlement mechanism is considered to be S. Osyka’s scientific work. The specific scientific attention has been given in the context of our study, which directly related to the functioning of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body during 2018-2020, by R. Brewster, T. Adekola etc. Despite the significant amount of research onthe subject, there is room for justification for amending the provisions of the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes.
The aim of the article is to determine the essence of the negative aspects of the functioning of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body in the current geo-economic conditions and to argue the feasibility of amending the provisions of the WTO Dispute Settlement Rules and Procedures.
Materials and methods. The normative basis of the study is the Agreement on Establishing the WTO, the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes, panel reports. The methodological basis of the research was the general scientific and special legal methods of cognition.
Results. The crisis of the WTO Dispute resolution body has been caused by a number of reasons: lengthy dispute resolution procedures low effectiveness of the measures envisaged by the Understanding, in particular, such as temporary suspension of concessions and other obligations under covered agreements, theoretical and unproductive nature of the measures applied to the offenders, since the possibility of  avoiding compensation weakens the position of the WTO member concerned in negotiating the amount of compensation, perspective rather than retrospective nature of the measures, which makes it possible to avoid liability for damages, limited scope for applying such a measure as compensation. Another major component of the WTO Dispute Settlement Crisis was the United States’ dissatisfaction with the work of the Appellate Body due to the considerable time spent reviewing the disputes and standards of the body’s decision making.
Conclusion. The events of 2018–2020 call into question the continued decisive role of the WTO in resolving interstate trade and economic disputes and, to a certain extent, the stability of world trade. The negative aspects of WTO dispute settlement outlined in the study, on the one hand, are conditioned by the nature of the organization itself, the need to adhere to the principles of international law, and at the same time a significant factor in reducing the effectiveness of the dispute settlement mechanism. Webelieve that introducing retrospective countervailing measures can indeed deter States from trade wars and balance their position in interstate trade relations.

Author Biographies

Nataliia MAZARAKI, Kyiv National University of Trade and Economics

Doctor of  Sciences in Law, Professor, Head of the Department of  International Private, commercial and civil law

Yuliia GONCHAROVA, Kyiv National University of Trade and Economics

Candidate of Juridical Sciences, Associate Professor at the
Department of International Private, Commercial and Civil Law


Domovlenist' pro pravyla ta procedury vyrishennja sporiv [Arrangements for dispute settlement rules and procedures.]. (n.d.). Retreived from [in Ukrainian].

Osyka, S. G., Konovalov, V. V., & Bakalins'ka, O. O. (Eds.) (2019).Vyrishennja mizhderzhavnyh sporiv u Svitovij organizacii' torgivli [The settlement of interstate disputes in the World Trade Organization]. Kyïv: Kyïvs'kyj nacional'nyj torgovel'no-ekonomichnyj universytet (Vol. 3) [in Ukrainian].

Brewster, R. (2019). WTO Dispute Settlement: Can We Go Back Again?AJIL Unbound,113, 61-66. DOI: [in English].

Tolulope Anthony Adekola (2019). «US–China trade war and the WTO dispute settlement mechanism», Journal of International Trade Law and Policy, DOI:[in English].

United States – import prohibition of certain shrimp and shrimp products. Report of the panel WT/DS58/R, 15 May 1998.Retrieved from [in English].

Canada – export credits and loan guarantees for regional aircraft. Report of the Panel WT/DS222/R, 28 January 2002. Retrieved from*%20not%20rw*)&Language=ENGLISH&Context=FomerScriptedSearch&languageUIChanged=true# [in English].

Ugoda pro zasnuvannja Svitovoi' organizacii' torgivli [The agreement on establishing the World Trade Organization] Retrieved from [in Ukrainian].

United States – import measures on certain products from the European communities. Report of the Appellate Body, WT/DS165/AB/R, 11 December 2000. Retrieved from r*%20not%20rw*)&Language=ENGLISH&Context=FomerScriptedSearch&languageUIChanged=true# [in English].

Lee, H. W. (2019). Legalization and dispute settlement benefits: The case of the GATT/WTO.The Review of International Organizations,14 (3), 479-509. DOI: [in English].

Bronckers, M.C.E.J. and van den Broek, N. (2005). «Financial compensation in the WTO – improving the remedies of WTO dispute settlement», Journal of InternationalEconomic Law, (Vol. 8), 1, 101-126. DOI:[in English].

Guatemala – anti-dumping investigation regarding Portland cement from Mexicoreport of the panel WT/DS60/R, 19 June 1998. Retrieved from [in English].

Office of the US trade representative, 2019 trade policy agenda and 2018 annual reportof the President of the United States on the trade agreements program, at 149 (2019). Retrieved from [] [in English].

United States Continues to Block New Appellate Body Members for the World Trade Organization, Risking the Collapse of the Appellate Process. (2019). American Journal of International Law, 113 (4), 822-831. DOI: [in English].



How to Cite

MAZARAKI Н., & GONCHAROVA Ю. (2020). Activities of the WTO disputes settlement body: overcoming disparities. oreign rade: conomics, inance, aw, 108(1), 5–13.