Head of Trade & Customs, Iain MacVay was invited by the Legal Division of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva to make a presentation to diplomats, business representatives and other NGO's on the role of private sector bodies in WTO Dispute Settlement. The presentation took place on Wednesday 26th September as part of the 2012 WTO Forum.
Iain was joined on his panel by GE's EU Director of Government Affairs, the Honduran Ambassador to the WTO and Chair of the TRIPS Council, a Korean academic who advises Korea on trade law and the Deputy Director of the Advisory Centre on WTO Law, which provides legal advice to developing country Governments on trade law issues. The panel was chaired by the Legal Director of the WTO.
Iain's presentation emphasised the need to ensure that private businesses have a greater role in the WTO disputes process since they are directly affected by the measures at issue and have the knowledge and resources needed to carry a dispute forward. The discussion also focused on the role of private parties and the media in the wider WTO process, especially in respect of the limitations of the dispute process and the goal of reaching agreed solutions.
The WTO Forum 'Non-State Actors in Disputes' session (34) was well attended, as well as being made available as a podcast on the WTO website:
Iain commented: "The WTO remains the cornerstone of the rule of law in international trade. It is therefore critical that traders, government and civil society representatives work together to maintain the effectiveness of WTO dispute settlement, including Consultations, and to identify ways, such as TBT notification and Committee review work, to find amicable solutions to disputes within the WTO rules. The Forum provided an excellent opportunity for a dialogue on how to accomplish that goal.”