Advisory Centre on WTO Law IV


The Advisory Centre on WTO Law (ACWL) was established in 2001 with the goal of enabling developing countries, and in particular least developed countries (LDCs), to better understand their rights and obligations in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and to provide them with equal opportunities to defend their interests in the WTO dispute settlement proceedings. ACWL provides three types of services to this end: legal advice on WTO law, support in dispute settlement proceedings and legal training.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Global
Sustainable trade
01.01.2017 - 31.12.2021
CHF  2’000’000
Background

The WTO offers its members the benefits of a rules-based trading system in which members can enforce their rights through binding adjudication. However, a country can only seize these benefits if it understands its rights and obligations as a WTO member. WTO law consists of a complex web of over 20 agreements and a growing jurisprudence. For countries with limited human and financial resources, it is difficult to acquire the necessary legal capacity, thus preventing them from fully taking advantage of the multilateral trading system. The ACWL was established to help developing countries and LDCs overcome these constraints.

Objectives

It is the ACWL's mandate to enable developing country and LDC members of the WTO to obtain a full understanding of their rights and obligations under WTO law and to have an equal opportunity to defend their interests in WTO dispute settlement proceedings. The overall objective of these efforts is to foster the effective participation of developing countries and LDCs in the multilateral trading system and thus to promote their further integration into the multilateral trading system and world trade. With its mission the ACWL, therefore, also contributes to the effectiveness and credibility of the multilateral trading system by ensuring that all members can participate and take full advantage of their membership in the WTO.

Medium-term outcomes

The developing country and LDC members of the WTO are better able to participate in the WTO dispute settlement system.

They have a better understanding of their rights and obligations under WTO law, thereby improving their ability to participate in the WTO and the rules-based multilateral trading system.

They have a greater legal capacity in issues of WTO law to enable them to better defend their interests in the WTO and to improve their participation in the rules-based multilateral trading system.

Results

Expected results:  

Advice on legal strategy in dispute settlement proceedings-

Written submissions to the WTO panels and the Appellate Body-

Presentation of arguments at WTO panel and Appellate Body hearings-

Legal opinions on issues of WTO law and its implementation in the domestic legislation-

Annual six-month training course for Geneva-based delegates to the WTO-

Ad hoc seminars on topical issues of WTO law that are of special interest to developing countries and LDCs-

Secondment programme for government lawyers from developing countries and LDCs.


Results from previous phases:  

Since its foundation in 2001, the ACWL has issued over 2000 legal opinions and has assisted in 49 disputes, thus in about 20% of all WTO disputes in that period. It has so far completed 13 annual training courses on WTO law and procedures and awarded 389 training certificates to participants from nearly all developing country ACWL members and from two thirds of the LDCs. Since 2005, the ACWL has been offering its annual Secondment Programme for government trade lawyers and to date has trained 31 government lawyers from 16 DCs and seven LDCs. Moreover, the ACWL has been offering seminars on legal issues of topical interests to DCs and LDCs on an ad hoc basis.

Switzerland joined the ACWL as a developed country member in 2004 and has since been supporting the ACWL and its work.


Directorate/federal office responsible SECO
Credit area Development cooperation
Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    2’000’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    0 Budget inclusive project partner CHF    23’254’000
Project phases Phase 4 01.01.2017 - 31.12.2021   (Current phase)