On 28 October, to celebrate its 20th anniversary this year, the Advisory Centre on WTO Law (ACWL) held a webinar titled “The ACWL at 20: Achievements for Developing Countries and LDCs and Challenges Ahead”. Over 100 people attended the webinar, which can now be seen here:
Or you can stream it directly at Zoom:
The webinar was moderated by Ms Cherise Valles, Deputy Director of the ACWL. In her introductory remarks, Ms Valles noted that the ACWL is probably the smallest international organization in Geneva. Ms Valles summarized the achievements of the ACWL over the past 20 years. She noted that there is a real demand by developing and least developed countries for the legal services of the ACWL, which enable them to participate more effectively in the multilateral trading system. She thanked these countries for the trust they have placed in the ACWL.
Mr. Niall Meagher, Executive Director of the ACWL, thanked the speakers for their participation and explained that the ACWL regretted not being able to conduct in-person activities to mark the 20th anniversary.
Professor Peter Van den Bossche, Director of Studies at the World Trade Institute in Bern delivered the keynote address. Professor Van den Bossche recalled the address by Professor John Jackson at the inauguration of the ACWL twenty years ago and then explained how he considered that the ACWL had met the goals and expectations set out by Professor Jackson. Professor Van den Bossche also paid tribute to the quality of the ACWL lawyers that had appeared before him in his capacity as a member of the Appellate Body.
Following the keynote address, five distinguished panelists spoke about their interactions with the ACWL over the past 20 years:
- Ms Anabel González, Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization, recalled her participation in the establishment of the ACWL and discussed the importance of the ACWL in supporting developing countries and LDCs to benefit from their full and effective participation in the multilateral trading system.
- H.E. Ms Usha Dwarka-Canabady, Permanent Representative of Mauritius to the United Nations Office in Geneva, explained that her country has benefitted particularly from the ACWL’s legal opinions especially concerning the legal aspects of the ongoing negotiations at the WTO.
- H.E. Ms Gothami Silva, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the WTO, described how much she felt she had benefitted from her participation in the ACWL’s Training Courses and the Women’s Discussion Group. She also paid tribute to ACWL lawyer, Mr. Christian Vidal-León, who coached the Sri Lankan team that won the John Jackson Moot Court Competition this year for the first time.
- H.E. Mr. Norman Harris, former Ambassador of Panama to the WTO and current Representative in Panama of the Secretariat for Central American Economic Integration (SIECA), described how important the assistance of the ACWL was in the various WTO disputes in which it assisted Panama.
- Ms Patricia Holmes, Chair of the ACWL General Assembly and Deputy Permanent Representative of Australia to the WTO, recalled that Australia had joined the ACWL because it fostered a sense of confidence and equity in the WTO system by enabling developing and least-developed countries to enforce their rights under WTO law. She welcomed the appreciation for the services of the ACWL expressed by many countries both at the ACWL General Assembly meeting in July and the Dispute Settlement Body meeting in September, at which the 20th anniversary of the ACWL was on the agenda.
5 November 2021