Talking Disputes | The Guatemala – US Labour Enforcement Dispute under CAFTA-DR

September 19, 2017 - 5:15pm - 7:30pm

WTO Room S3 (check panel)

This special edition of Talking Disputes series is a first: It discusses a "Trade & Sustainable Development"/"Trade & Labour" case, namely the recent arbitral panel report in the dispute In the Matter of Guatemala – Issues Relating to the Obligations Under Article 16.2.1(a) of the CAFTA-DR.

The Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) also includes Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua as its parties.

The dispute centres on the alleged failure of Guatemala to enforce its domestic laws dealing with the protection of the right of association, protection of the right to organize and bargain collectively, and acceptable conditions of work. The United States argued that those failures constituted “a sustained or recurring course of action or inaction” by Guatemala and that they were “in a manner affecting trade”, in violation of the Labour Chapter of the CAFTA-DR.

The US claims were not sustained by the panel. In particular, the panel found that majority of Guatemala’s alleged failure to enforce domestic labour legislation was not done “in a manner affecting trade.”

Following a presentation on the key findings of the panel, the experts will engage in an exchange of views on the legal and policy implications of the findings, and will also discuss substantive and procedural aspects of international trade and investment law, international labour standard and FTA negotiations in the context of the dispute. 

Agenda (Geneva Time)

Check your local time here

17:15     Panel Discussion


Robert MCDOUGALL, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development

Presentation of the report of the CAFTA-DR arbitral panel:

Colette VAN DER VEN, Sidley Austin


Joost PAUWELYN, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva

Pablo LAZO-GRANDI, Permanent Mission of Chile to the United Nations Office and other international organisations in Geneva

Doug PALMER, Politico (online speaker)

18:15     Open Discussion
19:30     Reception

Practical info

Venue: Room S3, World Trade Organization (WTO), Rue de Lausanne 154, 1202 Geneva.

RegistrationRegistration is mandatory. Please register online by COB on Monday 11 September 2017.

Webcast: This event will also be streamed live online on the event page. Online viewers may send questions through the comment function on the ICTSD event page or through Twitter using the hash tag #TalkingDisputes@ICTSDTradeLaw@WTIAdvisors. Selected questions will be read and addressed by the speakers during Q&A session.


 [The views and opinions expressed in the event are those of the experts and do not necessarily reflect those of ICTSD and WTIA.]