Knowledge, Legitimacy, Efficiency and the Institutionalization of Dispute Settlement Procedures at the World Trade Organization and the World Intellectual Property Organization

Ryan, Michael P. | January 1, 2002

International legal research regarding international economic dispute settlement tends to be a-theoretical. A theoretically-grounded analytic framework is employed in this article which draws from scholarship from political science, sociology, and economics regarding institutions and international governmental organizations. The knowledge-legitimacy-efficiency analytic framework is applied in this article to studies of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GA TT)/World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement in order to relate this relevant scholarship to the economic field under primary study, Internet domain names. GA TT/WTO knowledge regarding international trade law has thickened through multi-lateral trade negotiations and dispute settlement decisions. The WTO’s legitimacy is increasingly questioned by disenchanted members, in particular by those from developing countries, and by outside critics who believe the organization to be undemocratic in process and unfair in outcome. However the WTO’s efficiency with respect to quasi-judicial dispute settlement procedure is perhaps a model for emulation by other multilateral institutions. Likewise, World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO’) knowledge regarding trademark law is deep and relevant to Internet-domain-name-dispute settlement. WIPO legitimacy has been earned through the sponsorship ofpublic forums, fair, independent decisions, and by virtue of its United Nations status. WIPO arbitration quickly established itself as a more efficient alternative to national courts. Knowledge, legitimacy, and efficiency account for the rapid increase in the number of users of WIPO Internet domain name arbitration.