Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2006

Keywords

World Trade Organization, WTO, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, GATT, sanctions, Uruguay Round, international law, international trade

Abstract

Why does the United States ever prefer to settle disputes under a system of rules rather than a system of negotiations? Powerful states are advantaged by negotiation-based approaches to settling disagreements because they have the resources to resolve individual disputes on favorable terms. By contrast, rule-based dispute resolution advantages weak states as a means to hold powerful states to the terms of their agreements. Then why did the United States want a rule-based system to settle international disputes in the WTO? To answer this question, we have to understand domestic politics as well as international politics. International constraints, particularly international courts, can influence bargaining at the national level by reallocating bargaining power among members of the government. This work addresses both the puzzle of the United States' preference for rule-based dispute resolution and the broader implications for international law.