The Advisory Centre on WTO Law (ACWL) is saddened to announce the death of Dr. Stuart Robinson, longtime Chairperson of the ACWL’s Management Board. Dr. Robinson passed away peacefully at his home in Geneva on Wednesday, 11 October, at the age of 93.
Dr. Robinson, a Swiss citizen, was a founding Member of the ACWL’s Management Board, serving as Chairperson from 2008-2022.
Dr. Robinson played a pivotal role in the establishment of the ACWL as an important source of legal advice on WTO law for developing and least-developed country governments. In the early years of the ACWL, his calm and wise counsel made a major contribution to the successful development of the ACWL into a provider of sought-after and valued legal advice, thus contributing to the fairness and viability of the rules-based multilateral trading system. His insistence on the need for the ACWL to be seen by its clients as fully independent was instrumental in making sure that that critical objective was realized. Dr. Robinson also played an active role in recruiting many of the staff of the ACWL, who will remember him as a kindly gentleman and a committed humanitarian.
Mr. John Weekes, the current Chairperson of the ACWL’s Management Board, paid tribute to Dr. Robinson, stating that “Stuart’s integrity, sound judgment, and commitment to fairness have made an invaluable contribution to making the ACWL the successful institution that it is today.”
Previously, Dr. Robinson practiced law in private practice in New York, before joining the GATT Secretariat in 1969. He remained at the GATT until 1991, eventually serving as Director of the Council Affairs Division. Writing in 2015, Dr. Robinson commented on two positive developments during his time at the GATT: first, “it was increasingly apparent that the interests of poorer countries were being addressed seriously” and, second, that “the GATT was de facto a ‘peace-making’ institution.”* This commitment to the interests of the poorer countries in the GATT/WTO system also marked his many years of involvement in the ACWL.
After leaving the GATT, in addition to his work at the ACWL, Dr. Robinson taught at the University of Geneva and played an active role in the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) and other civil society activities in the trade and development field in Geneva.
The ACWL extends its appreciation for Dr. Robinson’s service to the ACWL and sincere condolences on his passing to his family.
May he rest in peace.
* Stuart Robinson, Legal work in the GATT 1969-91, in Gabrielle Marceau, ed., A History of Law and Lawyers in the GATT/WTO (WTO/Cambridge, 2015), pp. 109-111.
19 October 2023