African States, Aggressive Multilateralism And The WTO Dispute Settlement System

Aug 2, 2005

Paper presented at the Carnegie Council Fellows' Conference 2005. To access the full paper click on the "download" button at the bottom of the page.

SYNOPSIS

What accounts for the underutilization of the WTO dispute settlement process by states in Africa? What structural factors currently inhibit the ability of states in Africa to use the DSM to their advantage? What factors account for variation in the use of the DSM by developing countries more generally? What can African states learn from the experience of the developing countries that have used the system?

The goal of this research project was to assess the relevance of the DSM to states in Africa, investigate the reasons for the lack of utilization of the DSM by African states, suggest ways to improve the operation of the DSU in the interest of African states, and assess strategies outside the context of the WTO that African states could use to overcome some of the challenges they face in utilizing the DSM. To address the core factors that discourage African countries from participating in the DSM, meaningful reform of the DSU is called for and changes in the operation of the DSM required. There is also need to review the underlying trade rules, particularly the Agreement on Agriculture, for their effect on poor countries. However, African countries will also need to explore strategies outside of the context of the WTO to improve their prospects of participating in the DSU and in the multilateral trading system generally.

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