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TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (May13/02)
3 May 2013
Third World Network  

GC Chair reports on first round outcome in WTO D-G selection
Published in SUNS #7565 dated 15 April 2013
 
Geneva, 12 Apr (Kanaga Raja) -- The Chair of the General Council of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Ambassador Shahid Bashir of Pakistan, reporting on the outcome of the first round of consultations held from 2-9 April on the selection of the next Director-General of the WTO, said that the four candidates least likely to attract consensus were those from Ghana, Costa Rica, Kenya and Jordan.
 
After the announcement, already conveyed to candidates in confidence yesterday, Costa Rica, Ghana and Jordan announced that their candidates were withdrawing, while Kenya, withholding consensus, said that its candidate, Ms Amina C. Mohamed, remained in the contest and had declined to withdraw.
 
At an informal heads-of-delegation meeting of the General Council Friday, Ambassador Bashir of Pakistan, informed the membership of the outcome of the first round of consultations and announced the list of the four candidates least likely to attract consensus.
 
According to the Chair, this list of the four (according to the order in which their nominations were received), were Mr Alan John Kwadwo Kyerematen (Ghana); Ms Anabel Gonzalez (Costa Rica); Ms Amina C. Mohamed (Kenya); and Mr Ahmad Thougan Hindawi (Jordan).
 
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.
 
The appointment process is being conducted by a "Troika", the GC Chair, assisted as facilitators 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.
 
According to trade officials, the delegations of Jordan, Costa Rica and Ghana announced at the informal meeting that the candidates from their countries have withdrawn.
 
Delegates of Ghana and Kenya raised concerns about the process, particularly over the fact that a few delegations had submitted more than four preferences and some less than that. This, in their view, was not a positive development.
 
According to trade officials, Kenya said that it could not join the consensus and that its candidate (Ms Amina C Mohamed) has not withdrawn from the race.
 
Trade officials further said that the Troika will now proceed with a second round of consultations (from 16-24 April) on the basis of a revised slate of five candidates (these being Ms Mari Elka Pangestu - Indonesia; Mr Tim Groser - New Zealand; Mr Herminio Blanco - Mexico; Mr Taeho Bark - Republic of Korea; and Mr Roberto Carvalho de Azevedo - Brazil).
 
This seemed to imply that despite Ms Amina maintaining her candidacy, she would not figure in the second round of consultations.
 
In his statement at the informal General Council meeting, the Chair said that he understood that there are "some concerns in some quarters regarding the results" and that he will share with the membership the manner in which he, assisted by the Facilitators, had arrived at these results.
 
The Chair said: "Let me say that, as you will recall, the membership directed at the 13 March meeting of HOD that our discretion be fully constrained and that we assess solely the number of preferences and the breadth of support across geographic regions and recognized categories of Members. And this is exactly what we did."
 
Amb. Bashir added: "The results were clear and unambiguous, whether measured in terms of number of preferences received, or by breadth of support across geographic regions or across the generally recognized categories of Members - LDCs, developing countries and developed countries."
 
The Chair and the facilitators had consulted with all 159 WTO Members by 9 April 2013, and each Member, whether Geneva-based or non-resident, was asked the same precise question, i. e. "What are your preferences?".
 
"We requested each Member to provide multiple preferences, without ranking, and ... urged that four preferences be given. We also informed each Member that we would not accept any negative preferences."
 
The Chair pointed out that each "confessional" took only a few minutes and no discussion took place in any of the meetings.
 
Turning to the results that flowed from these consultations, Amb. Bashir recalled that paragraph 17 of the Procedures (for the appointment of Directors-General, set out in document WT/L/509), sets out that: "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".
 
The same paragraph also states that: "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".
 
Ambassador Bashir went on to make five overarching points.
 
"First, it was clear from our consultations that Members considered all of the nine candidates to be highly qualified and respected individuals", and he thanked all delegations for their clear and constructive responses, and the candidates and members who had nominated then for the dignified manner in which they have conducted themselves in this process. "We hope that in the next phases of the process the dignity of the candidates and the Members nominating them can be preserved."
 
"Second, this is a Member-led process. Our assessment of your preferences was based solely on the elements set out in paragraph 17 of the 2002 Procedures. I would also recall that JOB/GC/39 reaffirmed the 2005 definition of breadth of support, which stated that: ‘As regards the breadth of support, we considered the distribution of preferences across geographic regions and among the categories of Members generally recognized in WTO provisions: that is, LDCs, developing countries and developed countries'. The Chair at that time also informed Members 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."
 
The Chair further said: "Third, the results that flowed from our consultations were dictated by your expressions of preferences and were communicated to the Members who nominated candidates yesterday, i. e. on 11 April 2013. In this brief meeting, paragraph 18 of the Procedures was highlighted, which stipulates that: ‘It is understood that the candidate or candidates least likely to attract consensus shall withdraw'. This is accordingly the only firm obligation for the candidates and the Members who nominated them."
 
"Fourth, you may recall that in the 19 March HOD meeting, Members were urged to come forward with four preferences. For the sake of transparency, I wish to inform you that all but a few Members did come forward with four preferences. These few Members expressed either five or fewer than four preferences, and came from different geographic regions and all the recognized categories of Members - LDCs, developing countries and developed countries."
 
The Chair said he understood there is a specific concern about the numbers of preferences expressed: First, while some Members from different geographic regions and recognized categories of Members expressed five preferences and some fewer than four, the vast majority expressed four; Secondly, the fact that some delegations deviated from four preferences did not affect the results in this round.
 
Fifth, Ambassador Bashir reiterated that the ultimate objective of this endeavour is to appoint a Director-General by consensus. "Accordingly, support across the membership is an essential factor. In other words, preferences expressed by Members not only from the region of the nominating Member but also importantly from other regions and across the recognized categories of Members mentioned earlier allow us to assess candidates around whom consensus can be built."
 
The Chair then went on to inform the membership of the list of the four candidates least likely to attract consensus, and said "our assessment was the same whichever way the preferences were examined. It is also noteworthy that no candidate carried unanimous support from any region."
 
Ambassador Bashir also announced that both he and the facilitators intend to begin a second round of consultations based on a revised slate of five candidates, again in the order in which their nominations were received, as follows: Ms Mari Elka Pangestu (Indonesia); Mr Tim Groser (New Zealand); Mr Herminio Blanco (Mexico); Mr Taeho Bark (Republic of Korea); and Mr Roberto Carvalho de Azevedo (Brazil).
 
These consultations will begin on Tuesday 16 April and continue through Wednesday 24 April midday.
 
The Chair said that "our aim continues to be to encourage and facilitate the building of consensus among Members, and to assist in moving from the revised slate of candidates to a final decision on appointment."
 
"With this in mind, we shall once again invite delegations to respond to the question: ‘What are your preferences?'," said the Chair, adding that three candidates will be expected to withdraw in the second round to respect the clear preference of Members for having only two candidates in the final round.
 
"We strongly urge, and expect, each Member to express two preferences - not more, not less - in this round. Strict adherence to this element by all Members will make this process more efficient," he stressed.
 
He emphasised that any preference received in the first round of consultations will not be used in the second round.
 
"I would therefore urge all Members to come forward once again to meet with us and to express their preferences on the basis of the revised slate of candidates."
 
"We are gratified by the 100 per cent participation of the membership in the first round, and the overall respect for and adherence to the Procedures shown. We look forward to the same high level of engagement in this next round. Let me reiterate that this process is your process: the decision to appoint the new Director-General is yours to make," said the Chair.  

 


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