Experiment: analysing WTO disputes

Since writing a “book for WTO”:http://www.aspenpublishers.com/Product.asp?catalog_name=Aspen&product_id=9041198857 on their Disputes Settlement system a couple of years ago I have found that even experienced analysts sometimes have trouble figuring out the key elements of disputes decisions. So I’m experimenting with the use of “argument maps”:http://www.austhink.org/critical/pages/argument_mapping.html as means of teasing out the recommendations of the Panel and the Appellate Body in disputes. The image below ( scroll right ) is not a true argument map: it maps only part of the conclusions of the Appellate Body (AB) in a recent moderately complex case. But I haven’t yet found a good way to represent the argument of the appellants as well as the recommendation of the AB. The case, incidentally, deals with a difficult legal issue for WTO: when is discrimination in favour of poor countries not discrimination?

EUPreferencesABConclusions

May 2009: Map updated to use Scribd. Please use the “full screen” zoom and the “magnifying glass” zoom adjustment on the Scribd toolbar to view at a comfortable resolution

Please let me know whether this map makes sense to you. Do you think this sort of thing is likely to improve understanding of complex issues? There is a danger that such a map might impose another ‘layer’ of interpretation without really clarifying the issues. What do you think? You can find the WTO document containing the AB report “here”:http://docsonline.wto.org:80/DDFDocuments/t/WT/DS/246ABR.doc

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