Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Law

Research Student: Abdulmalik M Altamimi

The Challenge of Enforcing the Rulings of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body, by Ensuring Prompt Compliance and Timely Implementation, in High Profile Cases (An Interactional Account)

Photo of Abdulmalik M Altamimi

I am looking at the problem of non-compliance with the rulings and recommendations of the World Trade Organization’s Dispute Settlement Body. As evident by the increasing numbers of delayed or ongoing non-compliance cases such as EC-Banana and US-Large Civil Aircraft, and scholars who question ‘the timelessness and quality of compliance’, the problem of non-compliance is a crisis in the making. In fact, with the recent increasing cases of China non-compliance, the crisis is already unfolding, and questions arise about the ability of the DSB to amend the DSU rules, and solve trade disputes between the powerful Quad countries (Canada, EU, Japan, US) + China.

In this thesis, I am applying the interactional international law theory, “interactionalism” by Jutta Brunnée and Stephen Toope to analyse the problem of non-compliance in the DSB. Interactionalism’s unique concept of compliance that combines the International Relations’ theory of constructivism with ‘the interactional legal theory’ of Lon L. Fuller and looks first at the origins of the law, ‘shared understandings’, and then applies Fuller’s criteria of legality to the norms, and finally determines the existence of a ‘practice of legality’, is a comprehensive measurement of compliance that the WTO’s DSB urgently needs.

This thesis is divided into four substantive chapters, the first focuses on compliance in public international law, arguing for “interactionalism” as the appropriate theory of compliance. The second chapter, and through the lens of the first element of interactionalism, shared understandings, is an overview of the evolution of the dispute settlement system from the GATT to the WTO. The third chapter examines the DSU rules in accordance with Fuller’s criteria of legality; for example, the criterion of congruence between officials’ action and underlying rules. The fourth chapter raises the question: how important is ‘the practice of legality’ for prompt compliance with the DSB rulings?         

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