Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Apr13/02)
8 April 2013
Third World Network
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
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
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
"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
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
* 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
"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. +