Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has entered into an agreement to contribute AUD 3’000’000 to the operating budgets of the Advisory Centre on WTO Law (ACWL) for the period 2023-2025.  This contribution, originally announced in 2022, marks the continuation of Australia’s longstanding support for the ACWL.  Established in 2001, the ACWL is an international organization located in Geneva that provides developing countries and least-developed countries (LDCs) with the legal capacity necessary to enable them to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by their membership in the WTO and in the rules-based multilateral trading system.

At a ceremony to mark the signing of the agreement, H.E. Mr. George Mina, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the WTO, stated that Australia sees the ACWL as a fundamental element of the rules-based multilateral trading system.  He explained that the ACWL plays a key role in ensuring the accessibility and fairness of the WTO’s legal system and paid tribute to the ACWL’s work in ensuring that the developing and least-developed countries that use its services have access to the level of legal expertise necessary to enable to take full advantage of their Membership of the WTO.

Mr. Niall Meagher, Executive Director of the ACWL, thanked Ambassador Mina for Australia’s support for the ACWL.  He noted that Australia has played a prominent role in supporting the rules-based multilateral trading system with a special emphasis on the fairness and accessibility of the system.  He expressed his appreciation for the manner in which Australia had continued to support the ACWL “through thick and thin”.   Mr. Meagher also thanked all of the members of the DFAT team on both sides of the world that had worked hard on concluding this agreement for their support and looked forward to continuing to working together.

Developing countries and LDCs face significant resource constraints in participating in WTO dispute settlement proceedings, obtaining legal advice on the WTO-consistency of their domestic laws, as well as other countries’ laws, and fully understanding the legal implications of negotiations of new rules in the WTO.   The ACWL offsets these constraints by providing its developing country Members and the LDCs – at present, 82 countries – with permanent access to specialised legal advice on these matters.  The ACWL thus contributes to the fair and inclusive nature of the rules-based multilateral system.

The ACWL provides the following services:

  • Free legal advice on all WTO legal matters;
  • Support at all stages of WTO dispute settlement;
  • Training on WTO law through annual courses, a Secondment Programme for government lawyers and other seminars and workshops.


19 July 2023

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