Rules of Power in an Age of Law: Process Opportunism and TRIPS Dispute Settlement

Ruth L. Okediji

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


The WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding is generally considered one of the most important accomplishments of the Uruguay Round. Both developed and developing countries arguably benefit from the new "rule-oriented" system characterized by mandatory timelines, a presumptive consensus for the adoption of reports, and the prospect of sanctions. For developing countries, these attributes ostensibly diminish the role of power in effecting outcomes of disputed claims. Yet, with particular respect to the construction of obligations imposed by the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, power remains an important consideration for whether a dispute will be resolved by voluntary compliance or involuntarily through the WTO process. This paper examines the conditions under which countries are likely to invest in voluntary compliance with TRIPS, given the information signals associated with each stage of the dispute settlement process. While voluntary compliance is the first-best outcome, such compliance may include side-payments that undermine the long-term interests of developing countries in sustainable access to knowledge goods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of International Trade
Subtitle of host publicationEconomic and Legal Analyses of Trade Policy and In
EditorsEun Kwan Choi, James Hartigan
PublisherBlackwell Publishing Ltd
Number of pages31
ISBN (Print)9781405120623
StatePublished - Jan 21 2008


  • Copyright
  • Efficacy
  • Equilibrium
  • Opportunism
  • Voluntary


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