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Development Account Projects

Building capacity through training in dispute settlements in international trade, investment and intellectual property

Background:

The limited experience of dispute settlement bodies, their rules, procedures and jurisprudence that negotiators and government professionals possess precludes the full integration of many developing countries and countries with economies in transition into the global trading system. The availability of training in this area is limited, diffused and not always easily accessible. Consequently, many countries must often seek recourse to law firms in developed countries to prepare and argue their cases before the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes. This is costly, and also accounts in part for the low rate of participation by developing countries in dispute settlement cases brought before WTO and other bodies. The project will address these problems by creating capacity for dispute settlement in developing countries, least developed countries and countries with economies in transition. The training will promote a better understanding of the issues at stake and will equip participants with the knowledge and skills required to ensure the participation of these countries in international dispute settlement activities.

Objective:

To promote the integration of developing countries and countries with economies in transition into the multilateral trading system through capacity-building on dispute settlement

Expected accomplishments:

  • Enhanced national human and institutional capacity to address dispute settlement issues
  • Decreased reliance of Member States on specialized international law firms for guidance and counsel on trade disputes
  • Strengthened national capacity to enforce and defend the rights and obligations of Member States as trading partners under international trade agreements and in disputes with their partners within WTO, WIPO and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, as well as in international commercial arbitration tribunals applying the rules of the International Chamber of Commerce and the United Nations Centre for International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)

Effects and Impact:

The project has produced handy, user-friendly guides with pedagogically designed self-tests on the essential building blocks of dispute settlement in the areas of international trade, investment and intellectual property. It has provided pertinent and focused training programmes for officials, lawyers and trade negotiators from ministries of trade, academics, lawyers, legal practitioners representing trade associations, corporations and law firms and business people from developing countries, therewith contributing to developing countries’ objectives to “do it yourself where you can” with the positive benefits of enhanced national human and institutional capacity to address dispute settlement issues. Moreover, the project has led to an increase in the understanding of international trade issues in general and specific WTO dispute settlement mechanism related topics in particular; the acquisition of new skills regarding the enforcement and defense of regional and international schemes was reported by governmental officials and other practitioners and academics.

The project has thus contributed to the growing and more effective participation of developing countries in dispute settlement in general and in the WTO’s dispute settlement system in particular. This increase was mentioned in the Report by the consultative board to the Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi, The Future of the WTO (Geneva, 2004; paragraphs 221-222). The growing demand for workshops: all participants who attended workshops in 2004 made requests for further training – in workshops and/or through Distance Learning Tools – presently being developed – on other topics offered by the course; The combination of capacity building tools (modules and workshops) was judged to be an essential requirement for government officials from SIECA (Secretariat of the Central American Economic Integration System) member states (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua) in negotiations towards CAFTA (U.S.A.- Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). A workshop was held in Managua in August 2004.Growing demand for course materials: by the end of 2004, more than 300,000 course materials in English had been downloaded by users, a substantive part from developing countries.