Discussion paper

DP2340 Is The Use Of The WTO Dispute Settlement System Biased?

The larger trading nations have been the main users of the WTO Dispute Settlement system during its first four years of existence (1995-1998). This has prompted a debate about whether the DS system is biased against smaller and poorer countries, for example, because of a lack of legal capacities and retaliatory power. This paper shows that a simple model in which countries bring disputes proportionally to the diversity and value of exports explains fairly well the dispute pattern. Differences in legal capacities appear to play some role, while 'power' considerations do not seem to matter.


Horn, H, H Nordstrom and P Mavroidis (1999), ‘DP2340 Is The Use Of The WTO Dispute Settlement System Biased?‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 2340. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp2340