Dispute settlement is the central pillar of the multilateral trading system, and the WTO’s unique contribution to the stability of the global economy. Without a means of settling disputes, the rules-based system would be less effective because the rules could not be enforced.
The Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU) — the main WTO agreement on settling disputes. Like the bulk of the WTO agreements, this was one of the outcomes of the Uruguay Round negotiations.
The various stages a dispute can go through in the WTO. At all stages, countries in dispute are encouraged to consult each other in order to settle “out of court”. At all stages, the WTO director-general is available to offer his good offices, to mediate or to help achieve a conciliation.
Appeals are conducted according to the procedures established under the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (DSU) and the Working Procedures for Appellate Review (Working Procedures).