Decision-Making and Transparency in the `Medieval` WTO: Does the Sutherland Report Have the Right Prescription?
Posted: 29 Feb 2008 Last revised: 5 Nov 2012
Date Written: September 1, 2005
No abstraPascal Lamy, the new Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), famously described the organization as ‘medieval’ after the failed ministerials in Seattle and Cancún. ‘There is no way to structure and steer discussions amongst 146 members in a manner conducive to consensus,’ he said ‘The decision-making needs to be revamped’. This widely shared concern with the functioning of the institution was a principal motivation when Lamy’s predecessor as Director-General, Supachai Panitchpakdi, commissioned a study from a Consultative Board of eminent experts on the future of the WTO. Arguably the big difference between the Seattle failure and the Doha success was the preparatory process and not the conduct of the ministerials. It follows that how decisions are made is separable from the debate and negotiation process used to get there, even if they are hard to separate in practice. The analysis and recommendations on institutional design of the so-called ‘Sutherland Report’ divide easily in two parts based on this distinction, and I will so divide my comments. Before addressing the prescriptions in Chapters VII and VIII of the Report on improving how decisions are made, and the process for reaching a decision, I begin by specifying my own pluralist view of the WTO.ct available.
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