BACK TO MAIN  |  ONLINE BOOKSTORE  |  HOW TO ORDER

TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Apr13/02)
8 April 2013
Third World Network  

General Council Chair sets out detailed plan on WTO D-G selection
Published in SUNS #7550 dated 21 March 2013
 
Geneva, 20 Mar (Kanaga Raja) -- The Chair of the General Council of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), at an informal meeting on Tuesday, set out the organisation of work for the coming weeks in relation to the final phase in the process of selecting the next Director-General of the organisation.
 
At an informal meeting of the General Council at the level of heads of delegation on 13 March, the Chair, Ambassador Shahid Bashir of Pakistan, had announced that this final phase, involving consultations with members, would commence on 2 April 2013 and conclude not later than 31 May 2013 (see SUNS #7546 dated 15 March 2013).
 
The next Director-General, once appointed, will be replacing current incumbent Mr Pascal Lamy, who will be concluding his second four-year term on 31 August this year. There are currently an unprecedented nine candidates vying for the post of WTO head.
 
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 so-called "troika".
 
The organisation of work set out envisages the consultation process on a "confessional basis" to ascertain the preferences of members and the breadth of support for each candidate, with a first round starting on 2 April and concluding on 9 April. Each member is being asked to put forward four preferences. No negative preferences would be accepted at any stage in the consultation process.
 
At the conclusion of that round, the results would be conveyed at an open-ended Heads of Delegation (HOD) meeting. Of the nine candidates in the first round, four would be expected to withdraw at the end of that round and the outcome of that round as well as the new slate of candidates and the timetable for the second round of consultations is to start immediately thereafter.
 
In the second round, members would be asked to put forward two preferences, and at the end, when results are conveyed to the HOD, three would be expected to withdraw, leaving two candidates for the third round. The General Council Chair and facilitators hope to complete the process in the third round, failing which a fourth round may ensue.
 
In his statement at the informal HOD meeting on Tuesday, the General Council Chair said: "As I underlined at our meeting last week, we are now about to enter the final two months of the appointment process."
 
He added that under the 2002 Procedures (for the appointment of Directors-General, contained in document WT/L/509), the General Council is directed in this phase to proceed, through a process of consultations, to narrow the field of candidates and ultimately to arrive at its choice for appointment.
 
"In line with the Procedures, the ultimate aim of the consultation process shall be to identify the candidate around whom consensus can be built. In order to do this, the Procedures specify that it may be necessary to conduct successive consultations to identify the candidate or candidates least likely to attract such a consensus. The process is to conclude with a General Council meeting convened not later than 31 May 2013, at which a decision to appoint a new Director-General must be taken."
 
Ambassador Bashir noted that "the Procedures specifically require us to consult with all Members, including non-residents. We are fully committed to meeting this requirement and we count on all delegations to assist us by coming forward to consult with us. We will establish contact with non-resident Members, and will also urge them to use the opportunity of the Geneva Week, later in April, to meet with us."
 
The Chair recalled that at the informal HOD meeting last week, virtually all delegations who spoke stressed that the process should be guided only by the existing Procedures, while also offering suggestions for clarity on paragraphs 17 and 18.
 
"The facilitators and I remain firmly committed to continuing strict adherence to the Procedures and time-frames, and today we would like to inform you on how we intend to conduct the further process."
 
[Paragraph 17 of the 2002 Procedures states: "The Chair, with the assistance of the facilitators, shall consult all Members, including non-resident Members, in order to assess their preferences and the breadth of support for each candidate. The ultimate aim of the consultation process shall be to identify the candidate around whom consensus can be built. In order to do this, it may be necessary to conduct successive consultations to identify the candidate or candidates least likely to attract such a consensus."
 
[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 one candidate."]
 
In his statement, the General Council Chair said that in setting out the elements of the organisation of work for the weeks ahead, both he and the facilitators were guided by Members' views expressed last week, which included inter alia:
 
* Members stressed the importance of strict adherence to the 2002 Procedures in this exercise, and of moving rapidly towards narrowing the field of candidates.
 
* A large number of Members preferred having three, or at most four rounds of consultations, recognising that, as a practical reality, given the time we have, four rounds of consultations is the absolute maximum.
 
* Another element that emerged clearly was Members' preference for having only two candidates in the final round, in order to facilitate the building of consensus. In this regard, and again considering the limited time available as well as the number of candidates, a number of Members mentioned the need to reduce the slate of candidates efficiently, and provided us with suggestions on how many candidates may be expected to withdraw at the end of each round. This means that by the time we reach the final stage, seven candidates would be expected to withdraw.
 
* Many Members, with a view to the need to reduce the slate of candidates efficiently, highlighted the importance of showing restraint in the number of preferences to be expressed.
 
The Chair then went on to inform members of the different elements of the organisation of work.
 
First, he said that on the matter of the number of rounds of consultations, "we will aim at having three rounds of consultations. It is our hope and intention that a fourth round will not be necessary, but we cannot, of course, at this stage a priori preclude that a fourth round may be required by unexpected circumstances, depending on the preferences you, the Members, express."
 
"Second, in light of the clear preference for having only two candidates in the final round and bearing in mind our aim of having three rounds, four candidates would be expected to withdraw in the first round and, on this basis, three would be expected to withdraw in the second round."
 
Third, said Ambassador Bashir, with regard to the question to which Members will be expected to respond in the consultations, as was done in 2005, the question will be: "What are your preferences?" - this means more than one, that is multiple, preferences without ranking.
 
"In view of what we heard from Members at the 13 March HODs [Heads of Delegation meeting], we urge all delegations to come forward with four preferences in the first round of consultations and, on this basis, Members are expected to express two preferences in the second round. On this point, let me also reassure Members here that we will not accept any negative preferences," he added.
 
Fourth, in line with past practice, "we will consult all Heads of Delegation in their capacity as representatives of individual Members. The consultations will be on a ‘confessional' basis, in accordance with time-honoured practice since the WTO's creation - this process is understood and practised by all."
 
"I and both Facilitators - and only we - will be present during all consultations. The positions and views expressed by Members will be treated in the strictest confidence by us, as has always been the case in the WTO. No information or other forms of indications of individual Members' specific preferences will be made available by us to other Members, to the candidates or to the public at large."
 
Fifth, "in assessing the information we receive and reporting to Members, we shall be guided by the elements set out in paragraph 17 of the 2002 Procedures, which states: ‘The Chair, with the assistance of the facilitators, shall consult all Members, including non-resident Members, in order to assess their preferences and the breadth of support for each candidate'".
 
In 2005, Ambassador Bashir noted, the then General Council Chair explained that: "As regards the breadth of support, we considered the distribution of preferences across geographic regions and among the categories of Members generally recognised in WTO provisions: that is, LDCs, developing countries and developed countries".
 
He added that the (then) Chair also informed that other criteria were considered and rejected by Members in the formulation of the Procedures in 2002. As reflected in past decisions and in experience, and based on common sense, "breadth of support" means the larger membership.
 
Sixth, Ambassador Bashir underlined that paragraph 18 of the agreed Procedures also requires that: "The outcome of the consultations shall be reported to the membership at each stage."
 
Accordingly, he added, the outcome of this first round of consultations will be reported to all Members at an open-ended meeting of Heads of Delegation to be held as soon as possible following the conclusion of the first round of consultations. In respecting the dignity of the candidates and the Members nominating them, Members who nominated candidates will be informed of the outcome immediately after each round and before the rest of the membership.
 
"This process will be repeated after each round of consultations, so as to ensure transparency, inclusiveness and full participation in every step of the process."
 
Finally, Ambassador Bashir said that regarding the organisation of the work, taking into account the Easter break, the first round of consultations will start on Tuesday 2 April. "We will aim at finishing the first round in 6 working days, i. e. on 9 April."
 
"Once the first round of consultations has been finalised, we will convene an open-ended meeting of Heads of Delegations to present the outcome of the consultations, the new slate of candidates, and the timetable for the second round of consultations which will begin promptly thereafter," the Chair said, stressing once again to the membership that "this is your process: the decision to appoint the new Director-General is yours to make".
 
According to trade officials, no delegation took the floor following the General Council Chair's statement. +

 


BACK TO MAIN  |  ONLINE BOOKSTORE  |  HOW TO ORDER