David's sling: Cross-agreement retaliation in international trade disputes
Date of this Version
In acknowledgment of its importance for the security and predictability of the multilateral trading system, the obligation to comply promptly with recommendations of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) is unequivocally stated in the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU) of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Yet, the last resort envisaged in case of persistent recalcitrance beyond the reasonable period of time for the implementation of the DSB's recommendations and rulings is retaliation. Just as is regularly the case in the broader international legal system, in the absence of voluntary compliance and of a centralized system of enforcement action, enforcement of WTO rules stems from the sovereign action of individual members, their own power and leverage to impose compliance with the rules of the multilateral trading system. Enforcement action in the WTO system is not unfettered, however, since Article 23 DSU prohibits the unilateral redress of violations, circumscribing action that is outside the institutional framework of the WTO and in contravention of the rules and procedures of the DSU.
This document has been peer reviewed.