Pursuing Lasting Impacts

… pursuing lasting impacts through the provision of independent economic and legal advisory support, capacity building and the creation and dissemination of knowledge & information

ILEAP Feasibility Workshop


Summary minutes


Draft Agenda

October 15, 2001
Morning Session - 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Coffee break - 10:45 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
1. Opening of the Workshop
2. The needs of the developing world for legal assistance in trade and trade-related relationships
Developing country speakers:

  • Sir Alister McIntyre, former Chief Technical Advisor, Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery and former Vice Chancellor, University of the West Indies
  • Dr. David Luke, Senior Economist, Multilateral Trade Issues, Permanent Mission of the Organization of African Unity Geneva, and Member, African Economic Research Consortium Steering Committee for Project on Africa and the Multilateral Trading System
  • Dr. Baatlhodi Molatlhegi, General Counsel, Botswana Telecommunications Authority
  • Shiva Giri, Graduate Student, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, formerly of the Department of Law and Justice of the Government of Nepal.Lunch - 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Gallery Grill, Hart House

Afternoon Session - 2:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Coffee break - 3:45 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
3. Possible role and mandate of a new organization
4. Possible activities of a new organization
5. Funding
6. Pilot project?
7. Next steps

Summary Minutes

1) Opening of the Workshop
In their opening remarks Ron Daniels and Gerry Helleiner welcomed all attendees, and extended their thanks to the IDRC for the funding of this workshop. It was noted that for decades there has been a deep concern in the international community regarding capacity building of the smallest and poorest countries to protect their interests, particularly with respect to international trade negotiations and operations, investment, and more recently, intellectual property. The idea behind this initiative was first floated during Gerry Helleiner's Prebisch lecture (Geneva, Dec.2000), in which he challenged lawyers to find ways to help the trade agenda in the developing world. This challenge has in the past sparked a number of initiatives - often in the form of technical assistance - but the overall record on technical assistance was not good. As a result, the need was emphasized for an apolitical NGO or network of NGOs, with clear objectives, and clear motivations, and based on the model of MSF.

The participants were invited to give their frank assessment on where the demand lay and how it could be effectively met.

2) The needs of the developing world for trade and trade-related legal assistance and possible activities of a new initiative

Speakers from developing countries presented their views on what the most pressing needs were relating to trade and trade-related legal advisory assistance in the developing world. The group concluded that there is a significant unmet need. The importance of trade-related assistance was recognized given that trade issues impact so many areas of economic policy.

Three categories of possible activities of the initiative were identified:

a) Conflictual advocacy services, particularly with respect to advising developing countries in the process of accession to WTO, and on dispute settlement issues.
b) Legal services with sensitivity to the development agenda of particular countries, with emphasis on:
  • interpretation and implementation of the developing countries' obligations with respect to the trade and trade-related agreements they have entered into
  • drafting of domestic legislation in compliance with their international obligations 
  • bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations.
c) Long-term capacity building, as a major objective. Capacity building would include the education of academics, public sector employees, and lawyers in private practice in issues relating to trade. It is important that capacity building is provided in the developing countries themselves.

3) Possible role and mandate of a new initiative
In discussing the possible role and mandate of a new initiative, and designing the responses to demands, the group acknowledged these challenges:
a) Expertise. The field of international trade law is not well developed, even in western economies, and consequently, there is a limited pool of resources available for participation in trade-related initiatives. It will be a challenging task to locate existing trade assistance expertise called for, specifically lawyers of a certain type and, possibly, political scientists and economists.
b) Legitimacy. This is a complex issue, with several facets. Any project must be viewed as legitimate by developing countries if it is to have any chance of success. Suggestions for building legitimacy include:
  • having very clear objectives. Legitimacy questions arise from the fact that in the case of trade law it was not clear whose interests are being protected in the developing countries
  • building a relationship with Southern partners. Any assistance that was to be seen as legitimate needed to be from a development perspective. South-South modality should be a high priority. Some countries in the South have larger pools, where it is more likely to make a link between trade and law; and
  • not competing with or duplicating with the existing initiatives.

4) Clients. A question of who should be involved was raised - could the clients be entities or NGOs? It was pointed out that conflicts could arise if acting on behalf of NGOs.
5) Among other concerns, were questions concerning the duration of projects, accountability regarding performance, liability, and the locations where the providers could come to.

When discussing how to respond to expressed needs of developing countries, the group concluded that any potential initiative needed to have the following characteristics:
  • The initiative should have a governance structure that reflects predominant southern participation.
  • The initiative should be responsive and adaptable to the needs articulated by developing countries. It was suggested to get some experience from and build on capacity already existing in the governments and private sector in the South.
  • Flexibility to adjust to emerging needs.
  • A wide array of instruments for intervention; the idea was raised of bringing together trade lawyers with development economists, with a couple of specific examples.
  • Initial demonstration projects which will start the process of network-building and provide legitimacy to the enterprise. There should be a pilot project which relates to an initiative that already exists. Sub-regional level initiative would be appropriate. Participants mentioned a few examples of potential partners in the South - AERC; ACBF; Trade Law Centre (TRALAC), a joint initiative of the University of Namibia and Stellenbosch Univeristy; and two other international centres in San Jose, Costa Rica and Manila, Philippines.

6) Next steps
  • High priority is to start with a statement of principle, objectives.
  • The initiative should start with building a network.
  • A conference/workshop with one of the partners should be organized in spring 2002.
  • Develop a secretariat that provides a roster, or clearing house function. In the next 6 months a team should be put together to respond to these kinds of requests - the development of this informal body would be the pilot project. The initiative should develop a roster of people willing to provide advice from different institutions and organizations.
  • Solicit demands from those developing countries the initiative wants to help. Put a word out that there is a network and a reason to believe that there will be resources available. Identify the niche for the initiative, with a new value added.
  • Find a mechanism to match demanders and providers.
  • Build partners in the South.

7) Closing remarks
It was suggested that:
  • Capacity building is something this initiative can probably do.
  • Setting vision/purpose at this time can be risky in terms of raising expectations of demanders. Rather continue working to get a sense of needs, what kind of assistance demanders ask for.
  • A set of proposals/ideas should be put out into the open and see what comes back (Vis-à-vis partnerships).
  • Full participation of the Southern side is very important.


1. Ron Daniels, Dean and Professor of Law, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto;
2. Kevin Davis, Professor of Law, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto;
3. Colleen Duggan, Senior Program Specialist, Peacebuilding and Reconstruction Initiative Programs and Partnership Branch, IDRC;
4. Shiva Giri, graduate student, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto;
5. Gerry Helleiner, Professor Emeritus, Economics and Distinguished Research Fellow, Munk Centre for International Studies;
6. David Luke, Senior Economist, Multilateral Trade Negotiations Permanent Mission of the OAU in Geneva, member of the AERC Trade Project Steering Committee;
7. Kamal Malhotra, Senior Civil Society Advisor, Bureau for Development Policy, UNDP;
8. Kerry Max, Economist, Economic Policies Division, Policy Branch, CIDA;
9. Sir Alister McIntyre, former Chief Technical Advisor, Caribbean Regional
Negotiating Machinery and former Vice Chancellor, University of the West Indies;
10. Rohinton Medhora, Director, Social and Economic Equity Program and Partnership Branch, IDRC;
11. Baatholdi Molatlhegi, General Counsel, Botswana Telecommunications Authority;
12. Manuel Montes, The Ford Foundation;
13. James Orbinski, former president of Medecins Sans Frontieres, International Council 1998-2000;
14. Richard Owens, Executive Director of the Centre for Innovation Law and Policy;
15. Debra Steger, visiting Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, former Director of the Appellate Body Secretariat of the WTO;
16. Michael Trebilcock, Professor of Law, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto.