State-to-state dispute settlement is an important check and balance in the process that reduces litigation. Governments are more wary litigators than many companies. The reasons are many – governments seek to maintain complex diplomatic relations, they are loathe to take on the costs of litigation, and since they must live by the rules their own litigation establishes, they are more cautious in taking aggressive interpretations of international law that could limit their own regulatory freedom. We thus see relatively few international intellectual property cases litigated, including under the 20 years of TRIPS and its stronger enforcement forum in the WTO.This restraint is good. Imposing international disciplines on what kind of domestic policies a country can have – the vertical relationship between state and citizen rather than state to state — is controversial and against what most of international law seeks to do.
Southern Poverty Law Center
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