Dispute settlement as a tool for achieving integration objectives: lessons for Southern Africa from the WTO
Dispute settlement processes within regional organisations tend to exhibit a preference for diplomatic intervention and settlement. These processes often take place behind closed doors and settlements are secret. Due to the fact that decisions, whether on regional or multilateral level, affect a greater constituency of interested parties it is imperative to empower such stakeholders to influence the decisionmaking process. Transparency within dispute settlement systems has always been questioned. Notable examples exist today that demonstrate how effective dispute settlement systems may enhance the aims of organisations that employ them. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the European Communities (EC) provide ample proof of this contention. This article attempts to identify and apply examples of good dispute settlement principles found within the jurisprudence of the WTO and to apply them to regional organisations like SADC and SACU.Various aspects of the development of the dispute settlement system within the WTO will be traced. Transparency and public access to dispute settlement procedures are also accentuated.