What constitutes a GATT dispute?

Inspired by a landmark publication by Professor Robert Hudec, this database identifies as a dispute any GATT proceeding fulfilling the following cumulative criteria, regardless of the type of adjudicator or the precise procedure that was followed:

  1. a specific complaint made by one or more contracting parties;

  2. directed against specific actions, measures or policies of one or more other contracting parties;

  3. based on one or more claims that benefits accruing under GATT 1947 (including associated legal instruments) or the plurilateral Tokyo Round Codes had been nullified or impaired or the attainment of an objective had been impeded, including in the form of a general “violation of the General Agreement” without reference to specific provision(s); and

  4. containing an unambiguous request for a decision or ruling by an adjudicating body on the matter at issue. This database uses the terms “adjudicator” and “adjudicating” body without any suggestion of a stricto sensu “judicial” activity conducted by the body involved in settling relevant GATT disputes.

While this database attempts to be complete and comprehensive, it should not be interpreted as a definitive or authoritative account of the disputes under the GATT 1947. This is not only because in some cases different conclusions could be drawn with respect to proceedings that were included in or left out of this publication but also because there may be specific disputes, including additional non-public cases, that may have remained unidentified.

For the exclusive purpose of this database, each of the identified disputes received a "GD/" symbol followed by a number. The numbering follows the chronological order of the dates when the relevant consultation requests were submitted to the GATT.