The Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has issued its annual report elaborately explaining its procedures and working, while also thoroughly summarizing the reports circulated in year 2013.
Appellate Body work to increase in 2014
As per the report, the overall average of panel reports that have been appealed during the period 1995 to 2013 is 67% . According to the Appellate Body Chair, since 2013 witnessed many panel reports, it is expected that there would be heavy workload for the Appellate Body in 2014 and beyond. It was also noticed that till now 119 reports have been circulated by the Appellate Body with the latest 2 important reports coming last year and that little less than 50% of the 159 member-countries have participated in appellate proceedings since 1996 in cases where reports have been circulated till 2013.
Participation by developing countries
Since both panel and appellate body reports are on the rise, it seems faith in the international body that it is able to deliver, has also been growing steadily over the years. Developing countries are also making their presence felt in the WTO. According to data released in the report, developing countries’ participation as third party in appeals for which reports have been circulated has been more than that of developed countries who still dominate in respect of being appellant or appellee. India has participated in the proceedings 36 times as third party while 6 times as appellant and 7 times as appellee.
Digital Dispute Settlement Registry
The report also gives an insight into yet to be introduced Digital Dispute Settlement Registry which would be an application to manage the workflow of the dispute settlement process, as well as to maintain digital information about disputes. This Digital Registry will provide for electronic filing of submissions in disputes and for creation of e-docket of submission of documents in a particular case. As part of this annual report, the Appellate Body has also highlighted various other activities like briefings, conferences, moot court competitions, meeting with representatives of the International Law Commission and the WTO’s internship programme.