The ACWL is co-administered and co-financed by its developed and developing country Members. The ACWL’s institutional structure is designed to ensure that the ACWL can provide its services to its developing country Members and the LDCs independently of any financial considerations or other influence.
The institutional structure of the ACWL consists of the General Assembly, the Management Board and the Executive Director.
The General Assembly is the ACWL’s highest decision-making body, consisting of the representatives of the Members of the ACWL and of the LDCs entitled to the services of the ACWL. It oversees the functioning of the ACWL, monitors the ACWL’s finances and approves the annual budget. It meets at least twice a year. The General Assembly is currently chaired by Ms Elsbeth Akkerman (Netherlands). Mr. Marco Tulio Molina (Guatemala) is the Vice-Chairperson.
The ACWL’s Management Board is responsible for the decisions necessary to ensure the efficient and effective operation of the ACWL. It functions independently of the General Assembly. The Management Board appoints the Executive Director in consultation with Members, prepares the annual budgets for adoption by the General Assembly, supervises the administration of the Endowment Fund, and proposes regulations on various matters for adoption by the General Assembly.
The Management Board consists of six persons. Under the Agreement Establishing the ACWL, the Members of the Management Board are to be selected on the basis of their personal qualifications in the field of WTO law or international trade relations and development. Three are nominated by the developing country Members, two by the developed country Members and one by the LDCs. In addition, the Executive Director of the ACWL serves as an ex officio member. The Members of the Management Board serve for two-year terms, which may be renewed. The current terms of the Members of the Management Board began in July 2015.
To ensure the independence of the operations of the ACWL from influence by its developed or developing country Members, the Members of the Management Board serve in their personal capacities and independently of their national affiliations. They undertake not to seek or accept instructions in the performance of their duties from any government or any other source external to the ACWL.
The Management Board meets at least twice a year and otherwise as needed to ensure the effective operation of the ACWL. All decisions of the Management Board are reported to the General Assembly.
The current Members of the Management Board are:
The Executive Director manages the ACWL’s day-to-day operations and represents the ACWL externally.
The Endowment Fund was created from the contributions of both the developed and developing country Members. The contributions of developing countries vary with each country’s share of world trade and income per capita. LDCs are not required to contribute to the Endowment Fund in order to be entitled to the ACWL’s services.
Each of the ACWL developed country Members – Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom – has contributed at least US$1,000,000 to the Endowment Fund or to the annual budgets of the ACWL or to both.
The ACWL charges fees for support in WTO dispute settlement proceedings. These fees were set out initially in US dollars in Annex IV of the Agreement Establishing the ACWL. However, under the decision on Currency Conversion adopted by the General Assembly on 25 April 2002 (ACWL/GA/D/2002/2), the fees were converted into CHF at the rate of CHF1.62:US1.00. Accordingly, the fees per hour are as follows:
CHF40 per hour for LDCs; CHF162 per hour for Category C Members; CHF243 per hour for Category B Members; and CHF324 per hour for Category A Members.
These fees are applied to a time budget adopted by the Management Board, which indicates the maximum number of hours that the Member or LDC may expect the ACWL to charge for each procedural step in a typical WTO dispute settlement proceeding.
The ACWL may accept contributions from governmental and non-governmental sources for specific purposes that are not related to dispute settlement cases, such as training and the traineeship programme.
The ACWL’s financial reports are audited by the National Audit Office of the United Kingdom, which has consistently issued an unqualified opinion on the ACWL’s annual financial reports.