Working Paper No. 1120

Supporting Developing Countries in WTO Dispute Settlement

Published: March 23, 2016Pages: 40Keywords: WTO dispute settlement; Developing countries; Special and Differential Treatment provisions; Legal capacity; Panelists JEL-codes: F13; K41

Supporting Developing Countries in WTO Dispute Settlement Louise Johannesson

Even though the World Trade Organization (WTO) ensures equal access to the dispute settlement system, the legal process is still highly costly, an aspect that primarily affects poorer developing countries. It is feared that this imbalance discourages developing countries from filing and defending complaints against richer countries.

In an effort to reduce these costs and increase participation by developing countries, the WTO provides two supporting measures: legal assistance, and preferential panel composition. The latter reserve one slot on the panel exclusively for a judge from a developing country.

This paper examines whether these measure leads to increased participation, applying a model that takes into account the decision to participate by both the developing and the industrialised country. We show that both measures encourage developing countries to file more complaints, yet, the number of adjudicated disputes  ay not increase accordingly. Furthermore, the measures may decrease developing countries’ average success rate in panel.

Using unique data, we also empirically inspect the presumed benefit of including a developing-country judge on the panel (Art. 8.10) and find a negative impact on the developing-country success rate. This apparent inconsistency is, however, resolved within the theoretical framework through a selction mechanism. The model developed in this paper aims to provide a more systematic approach to policy evaluation of certain types of supporting measures in the WTO.

Interdisciplinary European Studies

The European Union and the Return of the Nation State


This book explores the complex and ever-changing relationship between the European Union and its member states. The recent surge in tension in this relationship has been prompted by the actions of some member state governments as they question fundamental EU values and principles and refuse to implement common decisions seemingly on the basis of narrowly defined national interests.

About the book


Seminars organized by IFN


To present ongoing research informal brown-bag seminars are held on Mondays at 11:30 am. This is an opportunity for IFN researchers to test ideas and results.

Academically oriented seminars are most of the time held on Wednesdays at 10 am. At these events researchers from IFN and other institutions present their research.

In addition, IFN organizes seminars open to the public. Topics for these are derived from the IFN research.

Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Grevgatan 34 - 2 fl, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden | Phone: +46-(0)8-665 45 00 |