Dispute Resolution Mechanisms
Perhaps the most significant improvement of the WTO over the GATT 1947 is its dispute settlement understanding (DSU). The GATT clauses for trade disputes settlement were too vague and too brief: contained in three precious paragraphs. The DSU, spelled out in 40 pages, incorporates several new dimensions such as the role of rules that cannot be vetoed by a single member country, clear schedules and time-bound actions in processing disputes and their effective compliance, recognition of the role of customary international public law and provision of measures to compensate members for adverse impacts of any trade policy violation by one or more measures. The DSU was expected to contribute toward security and predictability to the multilateral trading systems.
During the first four years of existence of the new DSU, the complaints by developed country members added to 124 requests dealing with 96 different subjects. Complaints by developing country members during this period were 31 requests, dealing with 29 different subjects. There were 4 complaints by both developed and developing country members with 10 requests — these included three requests made by developed country members. The total number of consultation requests made by developing country member was 40; on the basis of distinct matters, the number was 32.
The role of the global trading institutions and specifically that of the WTO is critical as well in this context. The US has been the most active litigant, both in filing cases against other members and in