At its meeting on 8 February 2024, the General Assembly of the Advisory Centre on WTO Law (ACWL) adopted a decision on the Accessibility of the ACWL’s Services (ACWL/GA/D/2024/1 – pdf).  The decision was based on the work of an informal working group established by the General Assembly in July 2023 to consider issues relating to the accessibility of the ACWL’s services.

The main points of the decision are as follows:

  • The ACWL will reduce accession payments and fees for dispute settlement for many countries in the WTO Small and Vulnerable Economies (SVE) Group by treating all SVEs as “category C” countries (lowest fees) for these purposes. This will reduce the accession payments (by 50%) and fees for disputes (by almost 40%) for 9 SVEs that change category, all of which are small island economies.
  • The ACWL will also reduce accession payments for most potential ACWL developing country Members by re-calibrating the Swiss franc amounts of the payments originally stipulated in US dollars using current exchange rates. This will reduce the accession payment for category B countries from CHF 162’000 to CHF 86’000 and for category C countries from CHF 81’000 to CHF 43’000.  This change will affect 36 potential ACWL developing country Members (including SVEs, to which this would also apply).

The decision also covers some aspects of how the ACWL currently provides services to eligible developing countries and the least-developed countries (LDCs).  For example:

  • The decision specifies that the ACWL will continue to provide legal advice and assistance in ADR (alternative dispute resolution) free of charge to its developing country Members and LDCs.
  • The ACWL will also pay an increased share of the costs of hiring technical experts (e.g., scientists, economists) where this is necessary to carry out a dispute. The ACWL will now pay 50% of these costs for Category B Members (previously 40%); 70% for Category C (previously 60%); and 100% for LDCs (previously 90%).
  • Subject to budget availability, the ACWL will assume the costs of case preparation visits by its lawyers to capitals to assist in the preparation of dispute settlement proceedings.

This decision follows another decision taken by the General Assembly at its meeting in December 2023, in which the General Assembly decided that least-developed countries (LDCs) that were about to graduate could continue to benefit from the ACWL’s services in 2024, pending further review of this issue by the General Assembly before the end of the year.

For further information, please contact the ACWL at


16 February 2024

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