Study Trip to Geneva, 26th-27th June 2012

As part of the LLM in International Legal Studies postgraduate program held by the University of Vienna’s Section for International Law and International Relations at the Law Faculty, a two day study trip to the WTO headquarters in Geneva was organized by Prof. Weiss and his department.

On 26th June 2012, two lectures on the establishment and functioning of the Legal Affairs Division were held at the Palais Wilson, headquartier of the UN HCHR. The same day, an introductory session on the work of A.C.W.L. had been delivered by Mr. Bohanes, Counsel of this Advisory Centre, whose intervention enhanced the student’s understanding on the effort of the WTO to guarantee better standards of justice for developing countries. ACWL, in facts, is an Organization satellite of the WTO devoted to assist Developing Countries’s participation to the Dispute Settlement, offering them legal assistance at preferential rates. The specificity of the work carried out by the ACWL is in conformity with the recent developments in the legal framework of the WTO which, under the spirit of Doha, have embraced stronger measures aimed at better facilitating the participation and protection of Developing Countries in their international transactions towards freer market.

On the following day, 27th June 2012, the LLM students were invited to attend the conference at the premises of the WTO on the first 30 years of activity of the Legal Affairs Division. The session was introduced by the Director-General, Mr. Pascal Lamy, and some of the most prominent contributors to the field of International Trade, such as Mr. John Jackson, Mrs. Gabrielle Marceau, Mr. Ake Linden and Mr. William Davey intervened discussing the history of the establishment of the Office of Legal Affairs, the evolution of Case Law and how it contributed to the definition and interpretation of the existing norms and the current challenges faced in Panel Litigations.

This has been a valuable experience to better understand the goals and practical work of the WTO, complementing the lectures held by Prof. Weiss during the LL.M. semester at the University of Vienna. The two days discussions have critically touched upon the most challenging issues regarding current International Trade Law, as well as contributed to the in-depth understanding of both the achieved goals and practical complexity of the Organization’s mandate. Especially the increasing participation of Developing Countries constitutes a milestone on the path towards better standards of international trade integration, which see the WTO holding a prominent role in promoting it while preserving its funding values stated in the GATT (1994).

The participant to this study trip have certainly benefited from this stimulating experience, an opportunity to further develop their substantial knowledge and understanding also at the practical level.

Margherita Natali (LL.M. Program 2011-2012)