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Modernizing the World Trade Organization Dispute Settlement Process: Science versus Science Open Access

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The objective of this thesis is to analyze the WTO rules that regulate the use of scientific evidence by determining whether they adequately protect due process and thereby ensuring fair trials. One decision of the WTO Appellate Body, for example, has protected millions of people from the exposure of asbestos-related products. On the other hand, the WTO dispute resolution process has enabled the distribution of consumable products that may harm human health. These WTO decisions relied on scientific opinions to justify their conclusions. Given the pervasive impact of WTO decisions, their accuracy and certainty cannot be compromised. The general rules and procedures governing the resolution of trade disputes are provided in the WTO's Understanding of Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (DSU), which is administered by the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB). Since 1995, the DSB has been applying the DSU in evaluating the admissibility and use of scientific evidence. Given the increase in the reliance on science in trade disputes, there is a need for new rules and procedures in the admission and usage of scientific evidence. This thesis argues that the current DSU provisions are archaic and inadequate in addressing the vulnerabilities in applying forensic science. As a result, the WTO cannot guarantee disputing parties the right to a fair trial.

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