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One of the main objectives of the WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism is the "prompt settlement" of disputes at the WTO. In pursuance of this objective, the Dispute Settlement Understanding stipulates timelines for each stage of dispute settlement at the WTO, including at the panel and appellate stages. However, in the recent past, the DSM’s ability to adjudicate disputes within the timelines stipulated under the DSU have come under tremendous pressure for a number of reasons such as complexity of the dispute, volume of submissions and evidence, heavy workload of the tribunals, etc. The severity of some of these factors have significantly impeded the pace of settlement of disputes by panels and the Appellate Body resulting in a number of systemic issues for the WTO Membership.

In light of the above, it becomes important to understand the exact quantum of delays the WTO’s adjudicative system is facing. With this objective, an attempt has been made to prepare a database that charts the time taken for settlement of all disputes at the adjudicative stage. This database covers WTO disputes of all categories – original panel, compliance panel, appeals, arbitrations under Article 21.3(c), and arbitrations under Article 22.6. WTO disputes that have proceeded to the adjudication stage right from 1995 till date have been analysed. The timelines stipulated for completion of adjudication under the various provisions of the DSU have been taken as the benchmark for assessing delays. The data pertaining to these disputes have been sourced from the WTO’s website itself.

This database was prepared for empirical analysis of delays in WTO dispute settlement that formed a significant part of a paper, drafted by the same author, titled Cracks in the "Crown Jewel" – Whither "Prompt Settlement" of WTO Disputes (Trade, Law and Development, forthcoming). While great care has been taken to avoid errors and omissions in preparing this database, their possibility is likely to remain. Errors and omissions, if any, are solely to be attributed to the author – Jayant Raghu Ram, formerly a Research Fellow with the Centre for WTO Studies, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, New Delhi.

All views and opinions expressed are personal, and not to be attributed to anyone else. The author may be contacted at jayant.raghuram89@gmail.com. Comments are most welcome at the same id.

 Table Delays Appeals 090919
 Table Delays Compliance Panels 090919
 Table Delays Original Panels 090919
 Table Delays Retaliation Arbitration 090919
 Table Delays RPT Arbitration 090919

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