Academic journal article Journal of Global South Studies

South-South Cooperation in the World Trade Organization's Dispute Settlement Body

Academic journal article Journal of Global South Studies

South-South Cooperation in the World Trade Organization's Dispute Settlement Body

Article excerpt


Since the 1990s, the simultaneous rise of a few large Global South states and formal and informal international organizations has created the opportunity space to pursue South-South Cooperation (SSC) agenda goals for trade in a rule-based international system. (1) This article examines the SSC leadership of India and Brazil through the lens of the World Trade Organizations (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body, an adjudication process that provides an additional arena for rule-based challenges to trade disputes. This article contributes to research on the theory and practice of SSC, specifically with regard to the role of developing states in international organizations. Additionally, the research expands the empirical data on trade disputes with a data set of categorical variables derived from the WTO Dispute Settlement Gateway. (2)

An extensive literature exists on developing states in trade negotiations in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT; 1947-1994) and the WTO (est. 1995). However, research on the WTOs Dispute Settlement Body, which was established in 1995, is sparser and scholars contend that it is only loosely guided by theory. (3) Much of the research on the rise of Global South states tends to focus on economic growth, economic resources, and coalition building for the purpose of gaining leverage in multilateral organizations. (4) Research on the WTO focuses primarily on the process of global trade negotiations and the actors in those negotiations. (5) While Chad Bown and colleagues have explored the Dispute Settlement Body from various perspectives, research on that body is still in its infancy. (6)

This chapter analyzes activity in the Dispute Settlement Body as one window on the SSC leadership of India and Brazil. These two states demonstrate clear and active leadership for SSC in various arenas, such as the India, Brazil, and South Africa (IBSA) Dialogue Forum; Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS); and the Group of 20 Developing Countries. (7) India and Brazil evince the resilience of SSC perceptions, values, and ideas that have been translated into conceptions of distributive justice. (8) My central hypothesis is that Global South states can further SSC interests in trade relations through the Dispute Settlement Body, especially if they form coalitions in disputes. My research questions were Do Brazil and India use the Dispute Settlement Body to counter Global North interests and advocate for SSC goals in the global governance of trade relations? If they do, what factors are most important in achieving rulings in their favor?

The article begins by describing the emergence of Brazil and India as leaders for an SSC coalition and the Dispute Settlement Body process as an institutional context for testing the potential of SSC for the mutual economic development of the Global South states. The study presents comparative case profiles of SSC leadership in Dispute Settlement Body cases and uses cross-tabulation and goodness-of-fit tests to measure the correlations between the strategies and outcomes of Brazil and India and those of the United States or the European Union (EU) in the period 1995 to 2015. (9) The findings support the hypothesis that the Dispute Settlement Body is an important arena for SSC advocacy, since Global South coalitions are most likely to use it to challenge the Global North and they tend to prevail in Dispute Settlement Body rulings. Thus, mobilizing SSC through the Dispute Settlement Body is an effective strategy for Brazil and India individually and, better yet, in cooperation to counter Global North trade dominance and to gain leverage in trade regulations. This study advances research on the role of developing states in international organizations, in implementing trade regulations, and in pursuing dispute resolution strategies.


The scholarship on Global South foreign policies includes debates between those who subscribe to the traditional realist view that international organizations mirror the balance of power and those who hold the institutionalist view that international organizations can reproduce and reconfigure power among states. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.