Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



The World Trade Organization (WTO) has faced harsh criticism from developing nations in recent years. Many developing nations feel that the promises they received when they joined the WTO have not been fulfilled. These nations feel that wealthy, industrialized nations like the United States and the members of the European Union are the only ones that have benefited from the organization. Moreover, they feel that these developed nations have benefited at their expense through the WTO's dispute settlement process. Many improvements to the WTO have been proposed. However, the one that seems the most able to help developing nations, the Advisory Centre on WTO Law (ACWL), has not received support from either the United States or the European Union.

The Advisory Centre was established in 2001 and is the first center for legal aid in the international system. The goal of the Advisory Centre is to provide developing nations with training and legal assistance in WTO matters. The WTO is an intricate system of rights and obligations, supported by a binding dispute settlement mechanism to ensure compliance. Meaningful participation in the WTO requires a good understanding of these rights and obligations and the ability to participate in its dispute settlement mechanism. The ACWL has the potential to benefit every nation that participates in the WTO, not just developing nations. The ACWL legitimizes the WTO as a whole. When parties are equally represented, the entire system is legitimated. Therefore, both the United States and the European Union would ultimately benefit from supporting this organization.