The World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement system has begun to enforce accession commitments without a systematic analysis of the relationship between accession protocols and the WTO agreements. The Appellate Body has twice made recommendations as if a protocol of accession were a separate covered agreement under the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU) when, manifestly, it is not. This approach can affect the interpretation of the accession protocols, notably as regards the availability of general exceptions.
Even if it is agreed that an accession protocol is 'an integral part of the WTO Agreement', that statement needs to be analysed and not merely recited. It is a pivotal clause which expressly addresses the relationship between an accession protocol and the WTO Agreement and therefore provides an interpretative framework for the assessment of claims arising under accession commitments. Analysis of that clause in its context reveals that it provides for an accession protocol to be read together with the WTO Agreement as a whole, including the multilateral trade agreements, such as GATT 1994.Journal of World Trade