A tailor-made WTO law course to be taught at Tashkent university will bolster long-term institutional capacity.
Uzbekistan is negotiating to become a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). To ensure beneficial membership in the long run, there’s a need to build institutional knowledge to apply national laws and policies for the country to adhere to WTO rules.
Specialized university education helps develop a new generation of policymakers, lawyers and economists with a deep understanding of international trade.
Even at the global level, only a select number of universities can teach the intricacies of international trade, law and economy. The University of World Economy and Diplomacy in Uzbekistan (UWED) in Tashkent has recently joined their ranks.
A course unique in Central Asia
The respected World Trade Institute (WTI) in Berne, Switzerland, has developed a dedicated academic course in WTO law for UWED’s graduate andpostgraduate law programmes. The course was commissioned by the International Trade Centre (ITC) as part of a European Union-funded project to buttress Uzbekistan’s capacity and know-how in international trade in the lead-up to it joining the WTO.
The course will embed trade law knowledge in an academic programme. Students will be prepared as future officials, lawyers and policy practitioners, extending the project support on WTO-related matters in the long run.
Peter van den Bossche, Director of Studies of the WTI and a respected former judge of the WTO’s Appellate Body, said the course was unique in Central Asia.
“The course will give students in-depth knowledge of WTO law and policy,” he said. “And obviously, that will benefit the students enormously when, upon graduation, they start working for the Uzbek government. They may, of course, also go into private practice, or consult companies or seek a career at international organizations.”
For students and state officials
The work unfolded in three stages, explained Rodrigo Polanco, the WTI’s Academic Coordinator of Advanced Masters Programmes, who headed the work on the course.
As a first step, the WTI developed a complete two-semester WTO law curriculum of modules, comprising the study materials, slide presentations as well as assessments. The WTI then worked with the UWED to train the trainers -- that is, to equip lecturers of the university’s law department to teach the materials.
As a further aid, bilateral meetings with lecturers guided them on how to make the lessons accessible both to students and government officials. The latter are an important target market for the course, because officials working in areas related to trade issues will have to hit the road running once Uzbekistan becomes a WTO member.
Online guest lectures open to students, practitioners and members of the government introduced advanced trade law topics to a wider audience, Polanco said.
“The goal is immense, and thanks to the participation in this project, we have the opportunity to attract not only our experts but also expertise recognized by the international community. Our university is making a unique contribution by offering this subject," noted Umid Yakubhodjaev, dean of the faculty at UWED.
UWED makes unique contribution
“The subject of WTO Law has now been introduced as a major subject in the Faculty of International Law, and was subsequently also added to the master’s programme,” added Yakubhodjaev.
“The course provided a deeper understanding about the importance of joining the organization on conditions that are favorable for Uzbekistan,” said Asilbek Abdug'aniyev, a fourth-year student.
Another postgraduate student, Abror Muhammadjonov, said the lectures provided useful information about the benefits of WTO accession. “It was very valuable to learn about this.”