Committee 4: WTO Dispute Avoidance

To provide the Applicants with the best possible and most relevant experience, the Model WTO has decided this year’s topic to be the Reform of the WTO as this topic has become more relevant in recent months.

Committee 4 

WTO Dispute Avoidance

The WTO’s Dispute Settlement System is one of the most effective of its kind. However, the number of filed complaints has rapidly increased over the years, from e.g. 94 in 1995-2000 to 300 in 2009-2014. While the dispute settlement body is a valuable asset of the WTO, it has been suggested to strive for dispute avoidance mechanisms to handle arising disputes before official complaints are filed.

Some committees have already introduced dispute avoidance mechanisms. For example, the committees on “Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures” (SPS) and “Technical Barriers to Trade” (TBT) offer “Specific Trade Concerns”. Members can raise questions and concerns about product regulations to be addressed within the committee, which has been an effective mechanism to avoid these concerns being filed as formal disputes. This practice could be replicated by other committees or used as a guideline for a standardised dispute avoidance process within the WTO.

Alternatively (or additionally), one could establish a mediation system available to members before filing complaints. Suggestions include establishing a panel to aid members to find mutually agreed solutions or enhancing the effectiveness of the Director General’s “good office” for formal consultations, as provided by the Dispute Settlement Understanding.

The committee on WTO Dispute Avoidance will discuss these possibilities and other suggestions with the aim to agree on effective dispute avoidance mechanisms.

Author of the Committees 2019:
Cara Stromeyer (
Model WTO Head of Simulation Design

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