EU and NAFTA: Dispute Resolution Mechanisms
The European Union (EU) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) are international organizations that emerged out of the necessity for the formation of regionalist, inter-state initiatives in the response to security issues and conflict resolution. One of the difficulties of the new global environment is its redefinition of disputes and security, as this security becomes as complex and multifaceted as it has never been before – for it can be cross-border, interstate, and inter-organization. This abruptness in transformation renders necessary the conceptualization of new stratagems in dealing with security. And this conceptualization process has become a task difficult for a single state or institution to take on, which hence is the rationale for intervention from international organizations. Similarly, implementation and realizations of conflict resolution methods would require multi-party consensus and agreement to the method and tool. Because of the increase interconnection and interdependence of countries, a domestic crisis or internal squabble would have international ramifications. Dispute resolution and conflict management mechanisms, as proven by EU and NAFTA, has become an inter-state concern.
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The dispute resolution is a primary concern of the European Union; in fact, alternative dispute resolution strategies was outlined in the Green Paper, which states that dispute resolution of the organization is not meant to fill in gaps in judicial performance, but rather to have a peace-keeping mechanisms in situations that require intervention beyond court proceedings. (EJMCCN Website) Social consensus and conflict resolution is highlighted, as with the retention of commercial interactions between parties in dispute. The European Code of Conduct seeks the establishment of an area of freedom, security, and access to justice, so that resolution of disputes would be fair, and the rights of parties upheld. The European Union are also conceptualizing innovative means to dispute resolution, like extra-judicial means and event the use of cyberspace to address conflicts.
The European Union also has interstate mechanisms that are indeed binding as these are accepted agreements by the member states. Unlike the NAFTA which is an international organization established because of security concerns, the European Union has a less limited power over its member states, as the latter has established a supra-national government to ensure compliance to dispute resolution mechanisms. Member states of the EU agree on shared judicial and policing functions that ps borders, states, and political actors.
The NAFTA prescribes consultations between parties who through dialogue can reach a certain consensus. If this consultation would prove ineffective, then the party can report the dispute to the NAFTA office, which would form a panel to decide on and mediate the issue. (NAFTA Website) Scientific review boards can also be formed to assess the situation and give scientific and academic reports. The NAFTA Agreement provides for a bi-panel system of review for issues like anti-dumping or countervailing duty matter. (NAFTA Agreement, Chapter 19) Guidelines for different types of disputes, like finances and investments, are also outlined.
The dispute resolution mechanism of NAFTA is also consultative and mostly the strategy is mediation, which is similar to EU, but the latter has more implementing mechanism and compliance powers than the former, as the European Union ha already established a quasi-government system. The European Union is open to alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, which the NAFTA provides for the traditional panel review method. Despite differences in method, it must be noted that the two organizations has essentially provided a conflict resolution framework to guide the management of disputes.
“Alternative dispute resolutions – community law”. European Judicial Network in Civil and Commercial Matters. <http://ec.europa.eu/civiljustice/adr/adr_ec_en.htm> Accessed 4 February 2008.
“Dispute Settlement”. NAFTA Secretariat. < http://www.nafta-sec-alena.org/DefaultSite/index_e.aspx?ArticleID=5> Accessed 4 February 2008.
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