WTO: 2013 NEWS ITEMS

GENERAL COUNCIL

> Statement by the Chairman
> Statement by Director-General Lamy
> Statement by Ambassador AzevÍdo

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Statement by the Chairman

In keeping with the Procedures for the Appointment of Directors-General adopted in December 2002 (WT/L/509), the process for the appointment of the next Director-General started in October 2012 when delegations were provided with information on the nomination phase of the process. Following the close of the one-month nomination period on 31 December, the nine candidates nominated by their Governments were invited to meet with Members at a formal General Council meeting held on 29-31 January this year. At that meeting, each candidate made a brief presentation, including their vision for the WTO, followed by a question-and-answer period. In line with the procedures, the Candidates also had a three-month period, i.e. until 31 March, to make themselves known to Members and to engage in discussions on the pertinent issues facing the Organization. 

Before the beginning of the consultation process I, together with my colleagues in this exercise — Amb. Jonathan Fried (Canada), Chair of the Dispute Settlement Body, and Amb. Joakim Reiter (Sweden), Chair of the Trade Policy Review Body, acting as Facilitators — convened an informal meeting of Heads of Delegation on 13 March, respecting the principles of transparency, inclusiveness and full participation. Guided by the views expressed by Members at that meeting, I announced at a subsequent meeting of Heads of Delegation on 19 March the organization of work for the further process, as well as the start of the consultation process stipulated in the Procedures.  The statement I made at the meeting on 19 March can be found in document JOB/GC/39.

In accordance with the process outlined on 19 March and the 2002 Procedures, three rounds of consultations were conducted by the Facilitators and myself, starting on 2 April.  The organization of work for these three rounds was the same.  In each round, Members were asked to come forward to express their preferences.  We consulted Heads of Delegation in their capacity as representatives of Members, and arrangements were made to consult non-resident Members directly, including meeting in person with those present during the Geneva week. All the information we received from Members was treated by us in strict confidence.

The facilitators and I have reported back to the membership at informal HODs meetings at each successive stage of this consultation process.  My statements at each of these three informal HODs meetings — on 12 April, 26 April and 8 May — were circulated to all Members in documents JOB/GC/40, 45 and 50, respectively.  Let me say at this point that the Facilitators and I were gratified by the high level of engagement shown by Members, and I wish to thank all Members for their constructive participation in this process.

As you will recall, consistent with the organization of work outlined in JOB/GC/39, the clear preference expressed by Members was to have only two candidates in the final Round. In this regard, I wish to thank Mr. Herminio Blanco and the delegation of Mexico for having paved the way for the decision the General Council is about to take, as set out in their statement at the HODs meeting last Wednesday which was circulated yesterday in JOB/GC/51 and which will also be included in the minutes of this meeting. The Facilitators and I appreciated their commitment to this institution and to the multilateral trading system, and their readiness to join a consensus.

I also wish to formally pay tribute to all nine candidates in this process.  I am sure all Members agree that we have had nine exceptionally qualified candidates who have, throughout this process, demonstrated their high regard for and commitment to the multilateral trading system, and their faith in the operation of its rules and procedures.  I pay tribute to their respective Governments and Geneva representatives for the dignified manner in which they have conducted themselves in this process. 

Let me now say a few words about my two friends and colleagues in this exercise — Ambassador Jonathan Fried and Ambassador Joakim Reiter. They were selected by you, the Members, by consensus when they were appointed to chair their respective bodies, and in accordance with the 2002 Procedures, they took on the role of Facilitators in this process. Throughout, they have worked with dedication on your behalf, at the expense of the other activities which they must undertake as Permanent Representatives of their countries. Together, we have often been referred to as “the Troika”, and I would like to put on record their integrity, their impartiality and their commitment in helping this difficult process work in the best interests of the WTO and all of its Members.  The membership owes them a great debt, as I also do, and I would like to thank them most sincerely on behalf of all of you for having been part of the team. 

Let us now turn to the business of today's meeting. As you will recall, at an informal HODs meeting last Wednesday, 8 May, I said that, in keeping with the provisions of paragraph 19 of the 2002 Procedures, I, supported by the Facilitators, would submit the name of Mr. Roberto Carvalho de Azevêdo as the candidate most likely to attract consensus and recommend his appointment by the General Council as the next Director-General of the WTO for a period of four years, following the expiry of Mr. Pascal Lamy's term of office on 31 August 2013.

Accordingly, I would like to recommend formally that the General Council agree to appoint Mr. Roberto Carvalho de Azevêdo as the next Director-General of the WTO for a period of four years as from 1 September 2013.

(The General Council so agreed.)

Today, we have sent out a strong message that the WTO can take decisions by consensus and follow intricate processes seamlessly. We need to carry this momentum further. I am confident that we can work together for a positive outcome at our Ministerial Conference in Bali.

On behalf of the General Council, I wish to extend our warm congratulations to Mr. Azevêdo on his appointment as next WTO Director-General.  I have no doubt that Members will work with him positively and constructively during his tenure as Director-General, especially this year as we prepare MC9. I am sure I speak on behalf of all delegations in wishing him well as he prepares to take up his post.

I will end my statement by reiterating my appreciation for the constructive approach taken by all Members in developing consensus in the appointment process. When I was elected Chairman of the General Council in February, I said that there were two major challenges facing us in the year ahead. We have just successfully met the first challenge, and we must now put all our energies into the second one — a successful meeting in Bali.

 

Statement by Director-General Lamy

Thank you Mr Chairman.

I wish to take this opportunity to sincerely congratulate you, Mr Chairman, together with your colleagues in the Troika — as you are by now known to the world — for conducting this delicate process in a smooth, transparent and inclusive manner, that compares favourably with a number of other international organisations.  I also wish to commend the whole membership for their positive engagement and for the constructive spirit they have shown throughout this exercise.  I believe this process was also an example of efficiency — it is concluded well ahead of its deadline — another sign that this organization is always capable of delivering positive results when all Members work constructively together towards a common goal.

The important result of this process is that Members have appointed the new Director-General whom they believe is the most apt to lead this organization for the next four years.  This is a moment of unity for the WTO family, in which we can briefly put aside our day-to-day concerns to look at the bigger picture of what this organization represents and of its fundamental values: openness of trade for the benefit of all, non-discrimination, fairness, transparency.  And of all this with the overriding objective of encouraging sustainable development, raising people’s welfare, reducing poverty, and fostering peace and stability.  The common belief in and commitment to these values is what unites the 159 Members of the WTO.  The Director-General has to embody these common values and be at the service of all WTO Members. I am convinced Ambassador Azevedo will do just that. 

I would also like to warmly congratulate Ambassador Azevêdo on his appointment and to wish him well as he prepares to take up his post.  Ambassador Azevêdo can count on my full support as well as that of the entire Secretariat.  As I have already told him last week, I intend to work to ensure a smooth process of transition, so that he can hit the ground running as he takes office on 1 September.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

 

Statement by Ambassador AzevÍdo

Thank you very much Mr. Chairman,  Ambassador Bashir,
Mr. Director-General, Pascal Lamy,
Distinguished friends and colleagues,

It is a great honour for me to address you in this very special meeting of the General Council, certainly very special for me.

This morning, Members have accepted the recommendation made by the “troika” and we therefore conclude the long process of selecting the next Director-General of the WTO. My functions as a Permanent Representative of Brazil to the WTO are coming to an end but, on the positive side, I will continue to work with you in a new — and very challenging — capacity.

It is not my intention to speak now as your new Director-General. This is not the moment to offer your plans of action or share with you a vision for the future of the Organisation. I will have an opportunity to do that, at another occasion, when we formalise the transition from the DG, Pascal Lamy, to your next DG. Today, I would like to confine myself to a few remarks on the selection process and to words of gratitude.

This selection process has been particularly challenging. Members have had to choose from a field that, beside myself, included eight outstanding candidates. The number and quality of the candidacies ensured that, regardless of the result of the selection process, the WTO would be very well served at the DG position. I have nothing but praise for the quality and level of the campaigning carried out by all candidates and their respective governments. They all promoted their candidacies with utmost dignity and respect to the system and its members.

In this context, I must express my gratefulness to the government of Brazil, which, at all levels, and consistent with the directives that guide the DG selection process, supported my efforts to make myself and my views known to all members, both in Geneva and in capitals. There is a lot to say about these efforts and about the people involved in them, but this, together with many other things, I will leave for a future occasion.

The fact that the process aims at building consensus among Members, as is the practice at the WTO, has compounded the challenge. Reaching consensus is certainly a lot more complex than simply counting ballots.  It requires that all delegations participate constructively and in good faith in consultations that must ascertain more than just the degree of support enjoyed by the candidates. But the major advantage of a decision reached by consensus is that it adds legitimacy to the choice.  All Members are responsible for the outcome of the process and commit to working closely with the new Director-General in pursuing the goals and principles that guide this Organisation.  The new Director-General, in turn, must act in the best interests of all Members.

The formal directives that outline the WTO selection process are not, I must say, an exemplary model of clarity or predictability. Despite these shortcomings, the “troika”, after consulting members, decided on rules of procedure that allowed for a process that ran its course in a sound and stable manner. The process was certainly inclusive and all members — without exceptions — had a chance to express their preferences through the various stages of consultations.

More than anything, the “troika” carried out its mandate in such a way that the new DG will be in a position to start his term without having to heal the wounds of a divisive and caustic process.  In this instance, the new DG and the members will be ready to immediately start working towards solving the most pressing challenges faced by this Organisation. Bali, an important event for this Organisation at this critical juncture, is just around the corner and we have no time to lose. WTO members, therefore, owe very special recognition to the fantastic work carried out by the keepers of the process, Ambassador Bashir, our Chairman, and Ambassadors Fried and Reiter, his facilitators. Members — and I — cannot thank them enough. Their competence and hard work have been of paramount importance in steering the Membership towards the outcome that was accepted by consensus today.

Mr. Chairman,

I would like to express my deepest gratitude for the support I have received from all categories of Members in the three rounds of consultations. Developed, developing, and least developed countries across the World have extended me their confidence. I intend to do everything in my power to honour their confidence and trust.

Regardless of their size, geographical circumstances, and level of development, all Members benefit from a predictable, rules-based multilateral trading system, embodied in this Organization. The Director General of the WTO has the duty of working with all Members to strengthen the system and to make it responsive to the needs and challenges of the entire Membership. In my term, I shall do my best to unremittingly help Members in building consensus and achieving the goals set out in the Agreements establishing the World Trade Organization.

I would also like to thank the Director-General, Pascal Lamy, for his generous offer to help me during the transition period that starts today and stretches until the end of August. I certainly have a lot to learn from his experience and the WTO has a lot to benefit from a smooth and orderly transition. Words of praise and gratitude for the legacy of Pascal Lamy to the WTO are in order, but I would rather do that at a more appropriate future opportunity.

Mr. Chairman, I have been working in and with this Organisation continuously for the last 15 years. I have seen it in much better days. I pledge to all members that I will work with them, with unwavering and steadfast determination, to restore the WTO to the role and pre-eminence it deserves and must have. But this is a conversation we must continue in September. I’m looking forward to it.

Thank you.

 


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