This research guide is designed for use primarily by members of the Minnesota Journal of International Law. It explains how to find and cite international trade agreements and where to find dispute resolution documents. For more information on researching global trade, see the U of M Law Library pathfinder, Researching International Trade Law.
Citations to GATT/WTO agreements are confusing and inconsistent. If you look at how these agreements have been cited in leading law reviews, there’s a huge amount of variation. Prior to their publication in U.N.T.S., these agreements were cited with reference to special publications called LEGAL INSTRUMENTS -- RESULTS OF THE URUGUAY ROUND, or RESULTS OF THE URUGUAY ROUND OF MULTILATERAL TRADE NEGOTIATIONS: THE LEGAL TEXTS.
Now that the WTO agreements have been published in the U.N.T.S., do not cite them to the special publications cited above. For citations to several of the most important WTO agreements, see the Law Library’s guide entitled Frequently-Cited Treaties and Other International Instruments.
Note, however, that the United States did not ratify the Uruguay Round agreements as treaties, but rather implemented them through legislation and administrative action, so there won’t be a T.I.A.S. or U.S.T. cite.
There is no comprehensive, official WTO dispute panel report publication. The Bluebook endorses citations to the official website. The Bluebook rule on WTO dispute panel reports (and other WTO docs) is 21.8.4(a). It says “cite texts that have not yet been published to the official WTO website (wto.org), to International Legal Materials (I.L.M.) or another unofficial source known to be widely available....”
The pdf documents at the WTO cite are reliable sources for citation-checking. There is really no need to find paper sources. Citations to WTO decisions should include a paragraph citation; all paragraphs are numbered.
If for some reason a paper source is desired, the following sources publish some WTO decisions:
The series of Supplements to Basic Instruments and Selected Documents (B.I.S.D.), which published some GATT dispute resolution documents. This series ceased with the 1997 Supplement, which contained documents from 1996. It was then restarted for WTO documents in 2002.
The easiest way to find a citation in B.I.S.D. for GATT documents is to search the Lexis B.I.S.D. database (look under International Trade). However, Lexis does not have the WTO B.I.S.D., so if you are looking for a WTO document and want to use B.I.S.D., you much check the tables of contents in the paper volumes (K4602 .G46). LexisAdvance does not currently have B.I.S.D.
International Legal Materials (Washington, D.C.: American Society of International Law, 1962- ; rackable). This periodical publishes selected, important WTO decisions. It is widely available and therefore a good source to cite. Hard copy is located on the first floor of the Law Library at TC Law Library Periodicals Per.I577. The I.L.M. is available on Hein.
You can search the ILM on Westlaw and Lexis. NOTE: Documents do not always have the exact same title in ILM as they do at the WTO cite. Be flexible in your searches!
International Trade Law Reports (London: Cameron May, 1996-2012; not rackable ) Starts with Vol. 1. These are on Reserve, at K4600 .I58x. They publish only a few WTO decisions. There is no cumulative index. The best way to search them is to ask for all the volumes and then look at the colored tabs that stick out at the sides. These have the name of the matter and the type of document (e.g., Shrimp/Turtle--Appellate Body Report).
World Trade Organization Dispute Settlement Decisions: Bernan's Annotated Reporter. (Lanham, Md.: Bernan Press, 1998- ; rackable). K4600 .W67x . Bernan’s is a much more comprehensive reporter than ILM or ITLR, above. Coverage starts with 1996 decisions.
Fortunately there is a comprehensive subject index that tells you what volume contains the decision you’re looking for. Subjects correspond to the titles or subjects of the WTO documents; e.g., Measures Affecting Textiles is indexed under “Measures Affecting Textiles.” “Regime for the Importation, Sale and Distribution of Bananas,” however, is indexed under Bananas. The index doesn’t give you a page number–just a volume number. However, each volume has only a few decisions in it, and they’re listed in the table of contents at the front of each volume.Dispute Settlement Reports (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2000- ). You may see citations to this publication. The U of M does not own it, nor does any other Minnesota library.
Law & Practice of the World Trade Organization (New York: Oceana Publications, c1995- ; rackable). Three binders of WTO reports. Use the tables of contents at the front to see whether your report is included. K4600 .L38.
International Trade Reporter (BNA; not rackable). Although the Bluebook gives an example of a GATT Dispute Panel Report that appeared in this publication in 1983, no WTO dispute settlement reports have been reprinted in it for the last several years. This set is located at Looseleaf Services KF1993.A6 B87 Non-Circulating.
If you have any questions about finding WTO decisions, agreements or other documents, please contact Kurt Meyer.
Database Access Note: access to certain databases linked to in this guide may be restricted to members affiliated with the U of M Law School or the U of M Twin Cities campus. Please see our Databases Directory for further information on access privileges.