Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Apr13/01)
5 April 2013
Third World Network
on next WTO D-G to begin on 2 April
Published inSUNS #7546 dated 15 March 2013
14 Mar (Kanaga Raja) -- The final phase in the process of selecting
the next Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), involving
consultations with members, is to commence on 2 April 2013 and conclude
not later than 31 May 2013, an informal meeting of the General Council
at the level of heads of delegation was told on Wednesday.
The next Director-General, once appointed, will be replacing current
incumbent Mr Pascal Lamy, who will be concluding his second four-year
term at the helm on 31 August this year.
Convening the meeting "in line with the guiding principles of
transparency, inclusiveness and full participation", General
Council Chair Ambassador Shahid Bashir of Pakistan informed the membership
that: "In conformity with the time-frames in paragraph 8 of the
Procedures, the last phase of the appointment process is the ‘Consultation
Process', and that is the phase we are now entering."
"In line with paragraphs 15 to 19 of the Procedures, this last
phase will commence on 2 April 2013 and conclude with a meeting of
the General Council not later than 31 May 2013," he added.
The General Council Chair emphasised that the Procedures for the Appointment
of Directors-General (WT/L/509), which were adopted by the General
Council on 10 December 2002, govern the process leading up to the
decision by the General Council to appoint a Director-General.
(The appointment process is being conducted by the General Council
Chair, and he is being assisted in this process by the Chair of the
Dispute Settlement Body, Ambassador Jonathan Fried of Canada, and
the Chair of the Trade Policy Review Body, Ambassador Joakim Reiter
of Sweden, both acting as facilitators. Together, all three form the
At the informal meeting Wednesday, Ambassador Bashir said that thanks
to the support and adherence to the Procedures by all the members,
"the appointment process is progressing in a transparent and
smooth manner, as per the time-frames set out in the Procedures."
"The facilitators and I are committed to continuing this strict
adherence to these Procedures and time-frames," he stressed.
The Chair noted that the 2002 Procedures have been used to the full
satisfaction of the whole membership twice, in 2005 and 2009, and
"considering that we have collectively already, since October
last year, followed the process in line with the Procedures."
At the same time, he said that "this is the first time we have
such an extraordinary number of qualified candidates and we need to
be best prepared for this final phase of the process, so that it is
undertaken in the most efficient manner possible."
"In this regard, and considering in particular paragraph 18 of
the Procedures, the key issue that Members may want to consider in
greater depth is whether it is worthwhile setting a pre-defined number
of rounds of consultations, and, if so, what would be the appropriate
number of candidates who would be expected to withdraw at the end
of each round," said Ambassador Bashir.
"Let me note here that we have about 40 working days in total
from the start of the consultation phase on 2 April to its completion
on 31 May," the Chair said further.
[Paragraph 18 of the 2002 Procedures states: "The outcome of
the consultations shall be reported to the membership at each stage.
It is understood that the candidate or candidates least likely to
attract consensus shall withdraw. The number of candidates expected
to withdraw at each stage shall be determined according to the initial
number of candidates, and made known in advance. This process shall
be repeated in successive stages on the basis of a revised slate of
candidates each time, with the aim of establishing consensus around
The Chair concluded by telling the membership that "this is your
process. My role and that of the facilitators is to encourage and
facilitate the building of consensus among you, the Members, and assist
you in moving from the initial field of candidates to a final decision
Providing a general overview of the discussions that followed, trade
officials said that apart from transparency, the purpose of the meeting
was to listen to members' views on how the process should be conducted.
Members expressed their views strictly on the process, said trade
officials, adding that there was a clear view that this process needs
to run smoothly and conclude on time, and that it cannot be allowed
to drag on to become ‘vitriolic' and to interfere in any way with
the preparations for the ministerial conference taking place in Bali
Strong support was expressed for the ‘troika', and it was also clear
that all members wanted full participation, including for non-Geneva
resident members, who will also need to be consulted. The issues of
inclusiveness and transparency (such as clear timetables and dates
for each stage of the process) were also highlighted.
Members also stressed the importance of following the 2002 Procedures
for the appointment of Directors-General.
Trade officials highlighted several key elements of the Procedures
including paragraph 13, as well as paragraphs 15-19 relating to the
[Paragraph 13 of the 2002 Procedures states: "In order to ensure
that the best possible candidate is selected to head the WTO at any
given time, candidatures representing the diversity of Members across
all regions shall be invited in the nominations process. Where Members
are faced in the final selection with equally meritorious candidates,
they shall take into consideration as one of the factors the desirability
of reflecting the diversity of the WTO's membership in successive
appointments to the post of Director-General."]
Noting that in 2005 (when Lamy was first appointed, to be followed
by a re-appointment in 2009) there were three rounds of consultations
in which one candidate withdrew at each stage, trade officials said
that the question is how this would be handled this time around given
that there are nine candidates and a limited time-frame.
The question relates to how many rounds of consultations would be
required this time, with members saying that three or four rounds
might be needed.
According to trade officials, most members said that the ‘troika'
should be given the flexibility to decide this and that it may depend
on what the outcome is at each stage. There was wide acknowledgement
among members that the facilitators should have the flexibility to
decide how they wish to proceed.
Views were expressed either way on how members should be submitting
their statements to the ‘troika', whether it should be in written
form or by oral expression.
Then there is the question of what the question (to members) itself
should be, said trade officials, adding that members said that the
question should be regarding preferences.
Several delegations voiced the view that the use of the veto should
be avoided, that there should not be a negative list, and that it
should be strictly a question of positive preferences.
Another question emerged on how many preferences should each member
put forward, with all members agreeing that putting forward only one
preference would not be a good idea. Members' suggestions in this
regard ranged anywhere between 3-7 preferences each.
Trade officials said that different views were expressed on how many
candidates should withdraw in the first, second, third round etc.
However, virtually all members seemed to agree that in the last round,
there should be only two candidates standing, so that it would be
clear to all where consensus could be built.
Before closing the meeting, the General Council Chair informed the
membership that both he and the facilitators intend to convene another
informal meeting at the level of heads of delegation on 19 March,
"where we will announce the organisation of the work ahead of
us in this last phase of the process for the appointment of the next