Dispute Settlement Understanding: special provisions for LDCs

Article 24 of the WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU) sets out Special Procedures Involving Least-Developed Country Members.

Article 24.1 requires that Members exercise “due restraint” when launching disputes against LDCs and states that complaining Members must exercise “due restraint” in asking for compensation or suspending concessions or other obligations when the responding party is an LDC. Bangladesh would no longer be covered by these requirements after graduation. Under Article 24.2, LDCs can request the Director-General of the WTO or the Chairman of the Dispute Settlement Body to provide their good offices, conciliation and mediation services for settling disputes. Other members of the WTO can request good offices, conciliation and mediation services under Article 5 of the DSU. The WTO secretariat is mandated to provide legal advice and assistance in respect of dispute settlement to developing country Members, pursuant to Article 27.2, with priority attention to LDCs.  After graduation, special provisions for LDCs in Article 24 will no longer apply to countries that have graduated.  No LDCs have participated in WTO panels as complainants (WTO/EIF, 2020).

LDCs also receive priority attention by the Advisory Centre on WTO Law (ACWL) and are not required to formally join or to pay membership fees. They receive free legal advice and training and pay reduced fees for legal representation in the various phases of dispute settlement. Upon graduation, to continue to use the ACWL’s services the country needs to formally join and pay a one-off membership fee.