Analytical Note, January 2005

Selection of the WTO Director-General: Some Points to Consider.

WTO Members are currently engaged in the selection process for the next WTO Director General. There are four candidates for the position. Given the role and stature of the WTO as a global institution, identifying and appointing the best candidate for the post is crucial, especially in light of the difficulties that Members have experienced in the past in selecting previous WTO Director-Generals.

The development of developing countries through trade is a major institutional objective of the WTO. Hence, the successful candidate’s willingness and commitment to put the development of developing countries at the core of his and the WTO’s agenda once appointed should be a primary consideration for his appointment. Candidates should, therefore, have:

  1. A demonstrated commitment to trade for development
  2. Strong principled convictions and personal integrity to withstand political pressure
  3. A global vision of peace and prosperity
  4. Consensus building capacity (diplomatic skills)
  5. Intellectual and leadership qualities
  6. Energy (fitness)
  7. Public image (relationships with media, civil society, etc.)

Furthermore, the process of selecting from among the candidates the best person for the post is as important as selecting the appointee himself. A flawed process may result in a flawed appointment and engender future organizational difficulties.

Hence, it is very important that the process is transparent, participatory, and inclusive of the views of all Members. “Active” consensus on the selection should be sought and there should not be any changes in the one Member-one vote rule should any voting take place.


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