Celebrating 10 Years of the WTO Academy

November 23, 2015 —

The 10th annual Academy of WTO Law and Policy held at Georgetown Law last week was a tribute to the man colleagues say literally coined the name of the World Trade Organization: Georgetown Law Professor John H. Jackson, who died November 7 at the age of 83.

“He was a giant in the field,” said Professor Christopher Brummer, the newly appointed faculty director of the Law Center’s Institute of International Economic Law (IIEL), as he opened the weeklong WTO Academy on November 16. As Brummer noted, both the academy and its host, the IIEL, were the brainchildren of Jackson, IIEL’s founding director. 

The event began with a historical overview of international trade law from Adjunct Professor Mike Gadbaw, a senior fellow at IIEL. Twenty-four panels continued throughout the week to cover recent developments, including trade and the environment, and what the World Trade Organization needs to stay relevant in the 21st century. 

Attendee Alan Thompson — who was an adviser to the Costa Rican government when that country acceded to the WTO 20 years ago — came to the Academy for the first time this year for an update on WTO agreements. “I liked the agricultural part, GATT services part and unfair trade practices,” said Thompson, who’s now an attorney in private practice. 

“One advantage of being at Georgetown Law is that you can come to [events like these],” WTO Academy Chair and IIEL Deputy Director Chris Parlin said as he welcomed the more than 40 students who registered for the Academy. 

Parlin noted that the audience also included more than 40 practitioners from the government, the private sector and NGOs. “They share one common fact … [they] wanted to learn more about the WTO,” he said. “Our goal is … to take people who [may not] know much about the rules of international trade — and by Friday afternoon turn them in to people who can legitimately say, ‘we may not be experts, but we know a lot about it.’”

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