On Monday, 4 March 2019, the United Nations Club of University of Belgrade, Faculty of Law, on behalf ofthe Law Faculty of the University of Belgrade, in cooperation with the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications, the Embassy of Swiss Confederation and the IDEAS Center from Geneva organized theseminar  “Accession of the Republic of Serbia to the World Trade Organization”. The ConferenceHall of the Faculty of Law was full of students who were introduced to the complex process of accession to theWorld Trade Organization and the general system of functioningof the World Trade Organization from several aspects.

Welcoming remarks were a given by doc. Dr. Jelena Lepetic, Vice-Dean for International Cooperation at the Faculty of Law,University of Belgrade, Ms. Ursula Laubli, Director of Cooperation of the Embassy of the Swiss Confederation, who along with greetings spoke about the support that the Swiss Confederation provides to the Republic of Serbia in the Accession to the World Trade Organization, and Sara Petrovic, President of the United Nations Club ofUniversity of Belgrade, Faculty of Law, who was the moderator of the seminar.

We had the honor to host Ms. Anna Varyanik, Legal Affairs Officer at the Division for Accession, from the World Trade Organization. Ms. Varyanik introduced us to the first lecture on topic “World Trade Organisation Accessions- History, Structure, State of Play”. On that occasion, we were more closely acquainted with the history of the World Trade Organization, its internal structure and the current situation in terms of the number of candidate states and members of the World Trade Organisation.

Furthermore, the second lecture was presented from the perspective of the Serbian negotiating team for joining the World Trade Organization.Ms. Olivera Jocić, Assistant Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications introduced participants to the topic “Accessions negotiations of Republic of Serbia – state of play”. Ms. Jocić spoke to us about the process of accession and the numerous legislative challenges that the process itself is carrying. Also, Ms. Jocićtalked with students about the current difficulties in negotiating with the members of the World Trade Organization and responded to manyquestions and misunderstandings about the negotiations and laws that need to be adopted or amended as a condition of accession.

Ms. Bojana Todorović, the Former Chief negotiator for Serbia’s World Trade Organisation Accession, held the third lecture on “Bilateral World Trade Organisation Accession negotiations – examples from Serbian accession process”. In an extremely interesting and inspiring way due to her long-term experience, Ms. Todorović emphasized how much the personality of diplomats and negotiators has a crucial role in the entire process. In her presentation, she told us some positive experiences, but as well some unexpected and unusualexamples from her career as a negotiator.

The third lecture was held by Ms. Iva Drobnjak, Senior Policy Advisor at “IDEAS” Center from Geneva. Ms. Drobnjak spoke on the topic “Lessons learned from the World Trade Organization accession – case studies”.  On that occasion, she introduced us in a very detailed way to the relevant information and practical knowledge related to the current situation, and manner of operation and functioning of the World Trade Organization.

The seminar was completed with the final lecture by doc. Dr. Marko Jovanović, from the Faculty of Law, the University of Belgrade on the topic “Legal implications of the World Trade Organization accession process”. The legal framework within the World Trade Organization system is in many ways specificandifferent from the traditional hierarchical, pyramidal legal system. Therefore, doc. Dr. Jovanović, in a very detailed presentation, explained the internal legal arrangement of the World Trade Organisation in order to lead students to better understandnig of this not so familiar and very complicated matter. Doc. Dr. Jovanovic, in a very interesting way, corroborated by the relevant legal norms, examples from practice, and thought-provoking questions intorduced students with the legal framework of the World Trade Organization.

After each lecture, the students had the opportunity to ask questions to our distinguished lecturers and thus start a fruitfuldiscussion within the individual fields of the seminar.

Thanks to the great support of the IDEAS Center from Geneva, all guests and participants of the seminar could serve themselves and have lunch the Teachers’ Club of the Law Faculty.

The United Nations Club of the University of Belgrade, Faculty of Law has recognized that the topic of the accession of the Republic of Serbia to the World Trade Organizationis not covered enough within the academic circles despite the official position of our Governmentthat membership in the World Trade Organization represents a long-standing economic, legal,and political goal. The interest of the academic public for this topic is great, asthatwas shown by the presence of a large number of students who had the opportunity toexpand their knowledge within this unfairly neglected topic.

The United Nations Club ofUniversity of Belgrade, Faculty of Lawexpresses great gratitude for all the support in organizing this seminar to the distinguished professors of the Law Faculty of the University of Belgrade, and especially, doc. Dr. MilenaĐorđević, doc. Dr. MarkoJovanović, doc. Dr. Jelena Lepetic, the sponsors of the event “IDEAS” Center from Geneva and Ms. IvaDrobnjak, as well as to our dear colleague Jelena Todic.