WTO DG Selection Process: Members Trim Roster of Candidates to Two

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

The third and final round of consultations will take place from 19-27 October.

During this time, the facilitators will hold confidential consultations with WTO members, asking delegations to express a single preference.

Based on these preferences, the facilitators “will deliver their assessment on which of the two candidates is most likely to command a consensus of the membership” and become the seventh WTO Director-General.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has announced that Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Nigeria) and Yoo Myung-hee (Republic of Korea) will advance to the third and final round of the selection process to determine who will succeed Roberto Azevêdo as the next World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General. This result “creates an historic precedent” because it assures that the next Director-General will be the first woman to lead the WTO. 

WTO General Council Chair David Walker (New Zealand), with Chair of the Dispute Settlement Body Dacio Castillo (Honduras) and Chair of the Trade Policy Review Body Harald Aspelund (Iceland), conducted confidential consultations with members from 24 September to 6 October, during which each delegation was asked a single question: “What are your preferences?” Members then submitted their two preferences to the “troika” of facilitators. Addressing a Heads of Delegation meeting on 8 October, Walker said the two candidates had secured “the broadest and deepest support from the membership.”

Walker said the third and final round of consultations will take place from 19-27 October “to afford members sufficient time to prepare their positions.” During this time, the troika will hold confidential consultations with WTO members, asking delegations to express a single preference. Based on these preferences, the facilitators “will deliver their assessment on which of the two candidates is most likely to command a consensus of the membership” and become the seventh WTO Director-General. The troika will then present their recommendation to the General Council for a formal decision.

On 14 May 2020, Roberto Azevêdo (Brazil) announced that he would step down from his post on 31 August. The first phase of the 2020 Director-General selection process, during which eight countries nominated candidates for the position, commenced on 8 June and concluded on 8 July.

The second phase of the selection process, in which the candidates “make themselves known to members,” concluded on 7 September 2020, and the third phase began.

As per a 31 July decision by the General Council, the third and final phase of the selection process consists of three stages of consultations. Following the first stage, the field of candidates was reduced from eight to five. In reducing the field of candidates from five to two, WTO members have concluded the second round of consultations.

The third stage of consultations “is expected to yield a final consensus candidate.” According to the procedures for the Director-General selection process, adopted by WTO members in 2002, the key consideration in determining which candidate is likely to achieve consensus is the “breadth of support” each candidate receives from members. [WTO Press Release]

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