The Dispute Settlement Process of the WTO: A Normative Structure to Achieve Utilitarian Objectives Academic Article uri icon


  • The paper posits that the World Trade Organization (WTO) has failed to efficiently promote mutually advantageous global relationships. The authors contend that the structure and the functioning of the Dispute Settlement Body have contributed to the failure of the WTO. The DSBs approach to interpreting the WTO agreements has been normative, as opposed to a realistic. Consequently, decisions from the DSB have resulted in strict interpretation of WTO agreements without appropriately balancing members national realities. Thus, the overall goals of the organization have been compromised to reinforce existing global power structures rather than promote cooperative governance. The authors examine two decisions of the DSB - one relating to agriculture issues and the second relating to the TRIPS agreement compliance - to assert their position. The operation of the DSB, the authors assert, results in three distinct disadvantages being, 1. reducing the line between domestic issues and market access issues; 2. failing to balance the rights and obligations of members; 3. allowing powerful nations to avoid WTO rules by simply not adopting them at the national level and, thus, works to preserve the existing bargaining imbalances. The paper concludes by offering suggestions that can be incorporated into the settlement process in the future.

published proceedings

  • Univ. of Missouri - Kansas City Law Review

author list (cited authors)

  • Ragavan, S., & Brian, M.

complete list of authors

  • Ragavan, Srividhya||Brian, Manning

publication date

  • October 2010