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The ACWL’s Report on Operations for 2020 is now available on the ACWL’s website.

The ACWL’s mandate is to ensure that developing and least-developed countries are able to participate fully in the WTO legal system. The ACWL provides, on demand, legal advice, assistance in WTO dispute settlement proceedings, and training on WTO law to its developing country Members and to the least-developed countries (LDCs).

The Report on Operations for 2020 explains that, like other offices, the ACWL had to adjust to a new working situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, the ACWL was able to make these adjustments effectively, without any significant interruption in the services provided. The Report notes some important milestones that took place in 2020: the ACWL provided 216 legal opinions on issues of WTO law to its developing country Members and the LDCS and has now provided over 3,000 legal opinions since its inception. A total of 45 different countries – a quarter of the membership of the WTO – sought this advice during 2020. This figure includes 30 individual developing country ACWL Members and 15 different LDCs.

These legal opinions help developing and least-developed countries participate fully in the WTO legal system by increasing their understanding of WTO law and enabling them to defend their interests in the WTO. The ACWL’s legal advice also serves an important dispute prevention function by enabling these countries to ensure the WTO-consistency of their trade-related measures.

During 2020, the ACWL’s team of 12 lawyers participated in 18 different dispute settlement proceedings, including three new requests for assistance in WTO dispute settlement proceedings. The ACWL has now provided assistance in 68 disputes, or about 19 per cent of all WTO disputes since the ACWL’s inception.

The ACWL’s Annual Training Course for Geneva-based delegates was switched to a virtual platform during the COVID-19 lockdown. While the ACWL was not able to continue its moot court exercise, it continued to offer an optional exam. The ACWL was also able to continue its Secondment Programme, which provides a unique opportunity for government lawyers from developing and least-developed countries to gain hands-on experience and training in WTO law, during the pandemic.

The Report also describes the ACWL’s outreach activities and other aspects of the ACWL’s operations. Printed copies of the Report will be available in the coming weeks and will be sent to ACWL Members and to the least-developed countries entitled to the ACWL’s services. The ACWL will also be pleased to provide printed copies of the Report to other interested institutions or persons. To request a printed copy, please send an e-mail stating your name and mailing address to

If you have any questions regarding this Report or the operations of the ACWL, please do not hesitate to contact the Executive Director or any other ACWL staff member using the following standard email format: Enquiries may also be addressed to

Report on Operations for 2020 (pdf)


29 June 2021

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