Reflections on the ASEAN Dispute Settlement Mechanism” (DSM) was the second presentation in the ASEAN Secretariat Brown Bag Series which was launched by the ASEAN Secretary-General, Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, on 4 July 2008, at the ASEAN Secretariat, Jakarta. It was organised in collaboration with the ASEAN-EU Programme for Regional Integration Support – Phase II (APRIS II). The guest speaker was Prof. Dr. Peter Van den Bossche, Professor of International Economic Law and Head of the Department of International and European Law at Maastricht University, Netherlands. Prof. Dr. Van den Bossche served as senior legal advisor to the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization in Geneva from 1997 to 2001, and was the Acting Director of the WTO Appellate Body Secretariat in 2001.
Prof. Dr. Van den Bossche said that the resolution of commercial disputes between ASEAN Member States would play a major role in sustaining regional integration and Community building and, by extension, of ASEAN as a rules-based entity under the ASEAN Charter. ASEAN is a major location of foreign investments and business operations, and the availability of effective and transparent rules and procedures for dispute settlement would enhance the attractiveness of region as a meaningful and dependable player in the global supply chains.
Prof. Dr. Van den Bossche expressed his appreciation and optimism on the system of dispute settlement currently available in ASEAN. The system comprises arrangements and mechanisms for consultations/negotiations, mediation, conciliation, and peer review at the advisory stage, and for more formal dispute settlement procedures (including appellate review) at the adjudicatory stage.
He pointed out that to date there has been no dispute brought up for adjudication in ASEAN and mentioned that it is important for ASEAN to ensure that the current arrangements and mechanisms would meet the purposes they are designed to serve. He welcomed the on-going efforts of ASEAN Member States and the ASEAN Secretariat to strengthen the dispute settlement system in ASEAN.
More ASEC Brown Bag Series will be organised in the coming months as the ASEAN Secretariat intensifies its public outreach efforts.