Enforcing International Trade Law in the World Trade Organization's Committees: Courting Third Party Opinion
Busch, Marc L.
Why would states discuss a trade dispute through a non-judicial treaty mechanism, when a more formal process is readily available? Specifically, in the context of the World Trade Organization (WTO), why would states use the WTO’s committees to address disputes, instead of requesting consultations to get the other side to the bargaining table? Contrary to the current literature, which describes the committees as a forum for dispute resolution, and suggests that states do not prefer to place disputes in a delay holding pattern, this dissertation presents a theory that challenges these assumptions. Instead, it argues that states use the committees primarily to learn about potential third parties to the dispute, which ultimately helps complainants build their case. Thus, this dissertation not only fills an important gap in the literature on WTO dispute settlement, which does not treat the committees as part of the dispute settlement process, but also offers a novel theoretical explanation for why states would use this non-judicial mechanism in the first place. In doing so, this research reveals that recourse to the committees tell us less about their success in resolving disputes, but rather is reflective of the shortcomings of formal dispute settlement instead.
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