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Part VI The Settlement of Trade Disputes in the WTO and Bilateral/Regional Trade Agreements, Ch.39 Stakeholders in International Trade Law Dispute Settlement

Katherine Connolly, Todd Friedbacher

From: The Oxford Handbook of International Trade Law (2e) (2nd Edition)

Edited By: Daniel Bethlehem, Donald McRae, Rodney Neufeld, Isabelle Van Damme

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 16 July 2024

This chapter identifies the range of stakeholders in international trade dispute settlement. The community of stakeholders is diverse, and begins with Member states, which have standing to bring disputes, participate in disputes as third parties, and (in the WTO) are the ultimate source of legal authority in the dispute settlement system, through their participation in the Dispute Settlement Body. Industries are the actors who actually engage in trade across borders; they cannot initiate disputes, or participate directly, but their knowledge of how the substantive rules work ‘on the ground’ makes their involvement and cooperation key to a successful dispute, and to making the most out of Members’ legal rights and obligations. Adjudicators are the ‘deciders’, whose independence and impartiality are of fundamental importance to the legitimacy of any dispute settlement system. Accountability of the adjudicators is paramount, and they must both be, and appear to be, independent and impartial in their decision-making. The WTO Secretariat is an important source of institutional support and consistency over time, although also a source of controversy over the appropriate boundaries of its role vis-à-vis the adjudicators. Finally, experts are an often overlooked stakeholder, but increasingly crucial as disputes grow more complex, technical and scientific. Each stakeholder participates in dispute settlement in a different way, for different reasons, and each makes its own contribution to the effective functioning of the various systems.

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