SUNS #4428, Tuesday, 4 May 1999
WTO is headless, deeply divided by manipulative process
Geneva 3 May (Chakravarthi Raghavan*) -- After two prolonged formal meetings of the General Council, on 30 April and 1 May, the World Trade Organization remains "headless".
A recommndation from General Council Chair, Ali Mchumo of Tanzania, and the Facilitator, Swiss envoy William Rossier, for electing Michael Moore of New Zealand by consensus met with objections and a demand for vote, and the Council meeting was recessed Saturday night, amidst some acrimony, to meet again on 3 May.
But US attempts to create a "crisis atmosphere", by forcing all meetings not to convene, or those that met to be closed without any business being transacted, failed. Both the meeting of the subsidies committee Monday morning, and a resumed meeting of the Committee on Regional Trade Arrangements (CRTA), which began on 29 April, did resume and did take place.
In the subsidies committee meeting on 3 May, the US, speaking on the adoption of the agenda, said the meeting could not take place as the "WTO clock" had been stopped as of 1 May evening. But the Mexican ambassador countered that the clock had been stopped till 10 am on Monday, when the Council was to resume. But with the Council meeting put off, "the clocks have moved forward". A US representative then cited rule 20 of the rules of procedure for "closing the meeting" without doing any business, whereupon Brazil (in the chair) read the rules, which called for one on either side of such a proposition to speak, and the issue being put to vote. With many flags raised to speak against the proposal, the subsidies committee decided to continue. At the CRTA (where the meeting had begun last Thursday) the US move again failed.
The General Council has been unable to find a consensus behind Moore, proposed by Chairman Ali Mchumo of Tanzania on Friday (30 April) evening, just eight hours before the deadline for naming a successor, as the candidate who could lead the WTO and around whom a consensus could be found.
A resumed meeting set for Monday morning was put off by Mchumo, probably till Tuesday, while US and core supporters of Moore were attempting to mount pressures to get Thai Deputy Premier, Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi to withdraw.
On Sunday, 2 May -- a group of ten led by the US, France and including Sweden, Turkey, and six Latin Americans (but interestingly Argentina, a core supporter of Moore and had made some remarks on 30 April and was castigated by the other side, was not among the ten) -- calling themselves "Friends of the Chair", held a press conference (organized by the US but chaired by Uruguay). At the press conference they put out a statement asking Supachai to withdraw. The ten said that the "temporary stalemate, created by a handful of members, reluctant to accept the outcome" had placed the WTO on the verge of an institutional crisis, and that the WTO work would be paralysed until the appointment of a new Director-General. They asked Supachai to withdraw since there was no way he could be named D.G. if "Moore's election was vetoed." They also said that until this matter of the DG was resolved, "the substantive work of the WTO on other important issues will be paralyzed" and asked all members (presumably Supachai supporters) to join the consensus advanced by the chair.
But after a Monday meeting of the Supachai supporters (where Supachai appeared briefly), Supachai made clear to the media that he was in the fight, and that there was no consensus behind Moore that the "group of ten" were asking others to join.
The US, which has been the prime mover behind the Moore candidacy and the efforts to block Supachai, was known to be trying to apply pressure on Japan (whose prime minister is now in the US for talks with President Clinton) and on ASEAN (and Thailand). But if there was a change in Japanese stance, it was not evident at the Monday meeting of Supachai supporters, according to those present.
The Asean and other Supachai supporters Monday, were asking Chairman Mchumo to "disassociate" himself from the statement issued by "the Friends of the Chair". They were also seeking explanations from Mchumo as to how and why the meeting set for Monday morning has been postponed without any consultation or reference to them.
But the way the consensus-building process has been conducted, "manipulative" as several Supachai supporters describe it, has created a situation where even if Supachai withdraws and Moore is elected, he would find it difficult to correct the public image of the WTO and himself as DG, as instruments of the US and corporate power, and not upholding the interests of the 134-members.
And privately, several developing country diplomats said Saturday that while they had no particularly strong views about either candidate, the process being pursued showed what developing countries would face at the 3rd Ministerial in Seattle, and this was forcing many of them to take a firm stand now.
The ASEAN, and many developing countries of Asia and Africa, are finding it difficult to fathom and understand the US objections to Supachai. Those who have met him, including several EU members, have been impressed by his frank and open nature (and unwillingness to do deals to win). The only explanation seems to be that the US officials, with the American psyche of 'dealing' and viewing everything as having a price, have reached the conclusion that Supachai is too honest to do deals, and would not suit the American interests.
One Asian diplomat said the way the US (and its supporters) have handled this affair, it will strengthen the anti-American feeling in the region, already fuelled by the socalled financial crisis and the way foreigners are taking over assets and enterprises.
Protesting the unfairness of the process by which the formulation of a consensus around Thai deputy premier and trade minister, Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, was "deferred indefinitely" in a manner according "the non-leading contender every conceivable opportunity to catch up", the ASEAN, backed by a number of supporters of Supachai in Asia, Africa and some in Latin America, on Friday and Saturday, refused a consensus for Moore, and demanded a vote (as provided in Art. IX.1 of the WTO agreement) to resolve the issue.
The two sessions of the Council have ended with positions hardened, the membership deeply divided, and trade diplomats angry both at the tactics and the "undiplomatic" language they had heard on Friday from Moore supporters (in particular the US, Argentina, and Uruguay). They came back on Saturday and in turn used some sharp language.
With the chairman, having ruled out at the outset an "informal session" to hear his statement and discussing it, as is usual in the WTO, all the exchanges were on record for posterity, (even if the minutes would be 'sanitised' and available months later, if at all).
But whatever the outcome, and whoever is ultimately chosen as the Director-General, the power play and the process used to promote a consensus, has demonstrated that the "rule-based" WTO is an undemocratic, non-transparent institution, with a manipulative decision-making process that makes the system an instrument of the powerful.
In adjourning the meeting Saturday night, General Council chairman Mchumo, seemed to recognize the difficulties in building a consensus around Moore, and agreed that his efforts to resolve it by proposing his name from the Chair at a formal meeting, had not borne fruit. Mchumo said that he would like to give more time to delegations to consider his proposal, and indicate possible alternatives when they met on Monday, and "stopped" the clock till 10 am Monday.
But by putting off the meeting again Monday, without consulting the Supachai supporters, he appears to have come under more criticism.
A large number of supporters of Supachai (who till Wednesday had been in the lead, even if narrow as claimed by Moore supporters) were angry that the formal meeting had been put off till 30 April, until with two "indications of support", Moore could be pointed to as in the lead and consensus sought by formally proposing his name.
They refused a consensus, openly protesting and challenging the fairness of the process, and calling for a vote that the US and other Moore supporters sought to bloc or delay through some dubious precedents and reading of WTO articles and rules of procedure.
The WTO meetings, formal and informal, are held behind-closed doors, and the media has to patch together what happened, by talking to delegates and from briefings of the WTO press officers. Halfway through the Saturday evening meeting, the media was told there would be no more briefings from the press office.
Though developing country delegates have been aggrieved over the WTO's media briefings, they have generally attributed it to professional inadequacies of the press office. But in the atmosphere swirling around the WTO Saturday, when everyone's bonafides were being challenged, Mexico asked at the Council clarification about the rules on media briefings. Mexico was told that the rules provided for the Chairman to issue a communique at the end of a meeting. Soon thereafter, the WTO press office, without any explanation, announced there would be no more briefings.
Earlier, the WTO spokesman had told the media in an off-the-cuff briefing (as the Council meeting was going on) that the atmosphere inside was "tense and not terribly pleasant", but that it was very clear that there was no consensus (behind Moore). He also referred the media to the WTO article (IX.1) and Rule 34 of the Rules of Procedure.
But by all accounts, discussions and exchanges at the Council were marked by some harsh words, with Zimbabwe's Amb. Jokonya (a text of whose speech was made available to the media) taking umbrage at the unwise tactics and "intemperate language" of Moore zealots, (a reference, according to other delegates, to the US and its core supporters - Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela).
According to diplomats, among other things, on Friday, the Argentine representative had accused those denying Moore consensus with 'intellectual dishonesty' while US ambassador Rita Hayes charged that Supachai supporters were denigrating the chair by not accepting his proposal.
Mchumo, on Saturday night, in his final remarks before recessing the meeting, tried to ease matters by saying that it was natural for some delegations to differ or not to agree with his proposal, but he did not regard this as an attack on the integrity of the chair.
The D.G. election process has been under way officially since September last, and has been marked over the last few weeks (when the race had narrowed down to Supachai and Moore, and the two were criss-crossing the globe to get support) by some misinformation directed against Supachai - with some of them traced by diplomats to US sources.
The consultation process began initially with Amb. Celso Lafer (of Brazil) and Amb. William Rossier (of Switzerland) as "facilitators", and since February has been conducted by Mchumo with Rossier as facilitator. Lafer and Rossier had set for themselves criteria for promoting a consensus, but these had never been formally put to the membership and approved - a point that several members have made at General Council meetings.
At the last meeting (informal on 9 April and formal on 14 April), while not disclosing any figures Mchumo and Rossier did indicate that Supachai was still ahead, but that both candidates faced difficulties for consensus. The Council was adjourned at that time, with Mchumo going to Tanzania on a visit and promising to renew consultations after return and determined to find a consensus by 30 April.
On return, though pressed since 26 April by Supachai supporters to hold an informal General Council, and not postpone things to the end (and take everyone by surprise), Mchumo did not call a meeting, merely sending out a fax that the Council could meet on 29 or 30 April. The meeting was summoned for 30 April evening, just 8 hours before the deadline to name a successor to Ruggiero.
When the Council met, Mchumo ruled out a request from Mexico (supported by Japan, India and others) for an informal meeting first (as is customary at WTO bodies to resolve differences), and then went on to read out from a long, three-page prepared text, towards the end of which he proposed that Moore be appointed as the next Director-General.
Some western media had been predicting this just before the meeting, with some western journaists suddenly trying to do a profile of Mchumo.
At the end of his statement, Mchumo recessed the meeting for a couple of hours, and members got the copy of the text only when they met again at night. The distributed text had the heading "Note for Chairman", and the language used and presentations made, suggested to those who said they were familiar with Mchumo's English usage in statements and speeches, that it had probably been drawn up by someone in the secretariat.
Till at least Wednesday (28 April), Moore had been behind Supachai, described by Mchumo (and facilitator Rossier), without providing any figures, as close behind or less formally as 'neck-to-neck'. In the Mchumo statement of 30 April, it was announced that Moore was now having a narrow lead over Supachai:
"Our latest evaluation indicates that out 121 member-countries (the WTO has 134 members, and there was no explanation or indication of the position of the other 13), 59 delegations had expressed preferences for Supachai and 62 for Moore", but that the figures of support were "not by themselves decisive to qualify a candidate".
But using a combination of other criteria involving subjective assessments -- about geographical spread (with the usual UN/WTO terminology of geographical regions recast to put a better gloss mover the Moore support, and about the candidate with the least opposition, or the new term used about extent of "tolerance" -- Moore's appointment as the next D.G. was proposed by Mchumo.
"With the same 'facts', I could produce a statement arguing the other way to present Supachai as consensus candidate," said one trade diplomat adding that Mchumo and Rossier could have presented their facts, indicated it was difficult for them to take a decision, and asking members to decide.
"Even a candidate winning the toss, would have been accepted at that stage, but the process used has shown up the nature of the WTO, and would strengthen the opposition to it in all our countries," the diplomat added.
When the General Council met Friday night (30 April), with most delegations having just received the text of the Mchumo statement and not having had time to carefully read and analyze (which some of them did and came back on Saturday to challenge the facts and the analysis), several of them neverthless questioned the process and the proposal for choosing Moore.
Malaysia for ASEAN, supported by a number of others made clear they could not accept the consensus, and given the inability of the Council to decide by consensus, asked for the use of Art. IX.1 of the WTO Agreement for decision by vote.
[Art IX.I calls for continuance of the GATT practice of decision- making by consensus, and then says that except where provided otherwise, where a decision cannot be arrived at by consensus, the matter shall be decided by voting.]
The EU, whose membership is divided, Norway (till now a Supachai supporter) and one or two others said they could go along with the Chair's proposal and agree to Moore.
The core Moore supporters including US, Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela used some unwise language and undiplomatic terms to criticise the Supachai supporters for not accepting the Chair's proposal and going back on their words about "consensus, and no veto-no-vote"
The meeting was recessed Friday night, to meet again on Saturday.
On Saturday (1 May) as they gathered for the meeting, the Moore supporters and a few others, thought that the Thai candidacy would be abandoned and the withdrawal would be announced. But many delegations who had carefully read overnight the Mchumo text, came with some sharp questions and made critical and sarcastic comments about the "analysis" and "subjective assessments".
These comments were directed to the statements in the text that on the "extent of tolerance" a candidate enjoyed, Mchumo and Rossier, had noted "more positive sentiments by delegations in favour of Moore" and that the difficulties expressed against Moore were "reactive" to what was perceived as his main support coming from a developed country. The text then said that like Supachai, Moore enjoyed the support of both developed and developing countries, and like Supachai more of his supporters were developing than developed, and that while these were subjective judgements, it was important to report these.
In some informal consultations, Mchumo and Rossier, had been told by Supachai supporters that in a race for two, it was meaningless to talk about "extent of tolerance" or "difficulties and objections", and that these last were in effect a veto, and this should be disclosed openly and publicly, and not figure in any subjective assessments.
In presenting a "geographical analysis" of the support for both, the Mchumo-Rossier report provided more subjective assessments to suggest a wider geographical spread for Moore, but this assessment seemed to have been achieved by rearranging the normal way countries and regions are identified, bringing in a political concept like Middle East Region (an European imperial concept of the 19th and the early 20th century), and not figuring in any UN or GATT terminology.
Egypt's Amb. Mounir Zahran, on Friday, and again on Saturday challenged this use of "Middle East region", and said he had received no satisfactory answer.
The report said that whereas Supachai was stronger in Asia and the Middle East, and Moore stronger than Supachai in Europe, in the Americas (North and South); that the two were fairly balanced in the Caribbean with Moore with a slight lead, and that in Africa they were equally balanced.
More astonishingly, the report added "Supachai is naturally stronger in Asia, his own region, Moore does not seem to belong to any major region but is very strong in support outside his area." This was seen as an attempt to belittle Supachai's support in Asia.
On Saturday, a number of delegations, came back to strongly criticise the process (and the contents of the Mchumo-Rossier report) and made clear that they could not accept Moore's nomination by consensus.
Malaysia's Amb. Hamidon Ali, speaking for the ASEAN, said they viewed the process not as just between two persons or countries with candidates, but first and foremost about "the viability and the integrity of the decision-making process" of the WTO which was supposed to be a rules-based organization.
The Council was in a situation where, pursuant to the rules, there was no consensus and legally there was an impasse, he said. The rules pointed to the way this impasse may be resolved. However, there were those who invoked the practice of decision-making by consensus and argued that the rules should not be applied. It was in the context of the Art. IX.1 provision for WTO continuing the GATT practice of decision-making by consensus, that the ASEAN had agreed to proceed on the basis of "no veto, no vote".
Based on what had been formally reported, particularly in instances where specific numbers of Members supporting each candidate was disclosed, Supachai had consistently been the leading contender.
If the "no veto, no vote" had been scrupulously observed, consensus should have been declared in favour of Supachai very much earlier.
And in a process of consensus-building where "no veto, no vote" is scrupulously observed, the consensus formulation "is not deferred indefinitely in a manner which accords the non-leading contender every conceivable opportunity to catch up," Malaysia said.
And when undue consideration was given to the "serious obstacles" which prevented the declaration of a consensus in favour of Supachai, "we refrained from imputing anything against the honour of those who violated the understanding by posing what was less than a veto," Hamidon said, in a text made available to the media.
"Now that we invoke nothing more than the rules, now that we seek nothing more than the exercise of the rights granted to us, there are imputations against our honour, and the honour of those who share our views," the usually mild-mannered Hamidon said.
"The understanding of no veto and no vote has been invoked against us after it had been violated by others, and therefore effectively repudiated by them.
"But we will refrain, even at this stage, to cast aspersions on any Member. Our primary concern is still the formulation of consensus for the sake of our organization. We will also refrain from reducing this process into a debate on the integrity of the Chairman or Amb. Rossier. Invoking their integrity to address our specific concerns is the very act which puts that integrity into question."
While reaffirming its faith in their integrity, the ASEAN noted that even Mchumo and Rossier had not commended the results of their efforts on the basis that they were infallible, but on their clear expression that the final decision is that of members.
The ASEAN believed that the Director-General should be chosen by acclamation and have the mandate of all. But the only way to ensure that those who participate in the acclamation did so sincerely was to address the concerns of Members not disposed to do so for reasons of their own. Being a rules-based organization, they had no other choice at this stage than to comply with the other parts of Art.IX.1 of the WTO and take a vote. While they had been reluctant to call for a vote, they had been constrained to do so and invoking it firmly as a right guaranteed to them.
"In the long run, what would erode our organization is not the exercise of rights clearly provided in our rules. What will erode it is the effort to prevent such exercise."
Mexico said the position was clear and there was no consensus. As the Chairman's report itself had said, the figures were important, but not decisive. The difference of two votes was much less than the number not signified. The geographical criteria of support was meaningless and the criteria about extent of tolerance had not been substantiated in reality. There was much more than a "reactive" opposition to Moore. It was clear there was no consensus, and they had to take recourse to the rules. Those who were opposed to this (voting) should suggest other solutions. But it could not be "by asking us to change our positions."
In supporting the ASEAN and Mexico, Zimbabwe's Amb. Jokonya, spoke sharply and said that the supporters of Supachai had been subjected by the zealots supporting Moore to the "most incessant vicious air raids since the WTO came into being", and had been treated to "scud missiles ... accusations of intellectual dishonesty."
Jokonya said he and others had asked for an informal Council meeting first so that "the venomous attack" on Council members (which they had anticipated) would not be registered in the records of the General Council. But the Chair ruled in favour of a formal session, and what had been feared had happened. "Hell broke loose, and the most deadly arsenic diatribe was unleashed on those who opposed the wish of the anointed in the name of the credibility of the WTO, of the process and in the name of the Chairman," Jokonya said.
But Zimbabwe would like to set the records clear. The language used was so intemperate that the Chair should have called for retraction, he complained. He had never been accused of intellectual dishonesty over the last six years in the Council, nor labelled "a confusionist, a dissident who has no respect for the chair". But the "cheer leaders" of Moore had chanted 'no veto, no vote', and accused the supporters of Supachai as going back on commitments.
Rejecting the charge of denigration of the Chair by the Supachai group, Jokonya noted that Zimbabwe had worked hard to elect Mchumo as Chairman, "against insidious comments that the Council could not be presided over by an African as we go to Seattle".
The innuendos and opposition to Mchumo's election, he said, were facts of history, and Zimbabwe as Chairman of the African group had discussed it with Mchumo. The African group had discussed these problems and had sought the support of the Asian group which had supported Mchumo's appointment as Chairman. And on Friday night "we were being told we were sanctimonious about our support for you.."
Jokonya said that from the beginning, Zimbabwe had not accepted the criteria that had been proposed for selecting the D.G. In the Council, in group meetings and with Chairman and facilitator, Zimbabwe had objected to these criteria, and had repeatedly told Mchumo that "level of acceptability is a device used in a world in which the few are (still) more than the many."
"I insisted," Jokonya said, "that the countervailing strength of the weak has not reached a stage where the majorities of the many are able to confront the majorities of the few. We warned you that it would be used as an indirect veto. But you, as Chairman, insisted it was an important criterion and because of our respect for you we conceded, but made it abundantly clear it was not acceptable to us."
Zimbabwe had been consistent throughout the formulation of the process and its operational phase. If after four years, when another Director-General is to be elected, and the issue and criterion came up, Zimbabwe would still say that "the level of acceptability is unacceptable to us..."
It was on record that some delegates had said they found Supachai's candidature unacceptable and this, Jokonya said, was a "veiled veto". Zimbabwe had argued throughout that the DG of the WTO was not "a beauty queen" contest, and did not need to be "pleasant looking or acceptable to individual countries" and the chair had agreed with this view when it said, in para nine of the "Note for Chairman" circulated to the Council, that this was "a fairly subjective criterion". But when Zimbabwe and others pointed to the subjective nature of the criterion they were "dubbed as dissidents, our actions as confusing and disrespectful to the Chairman."
The Friday night meeting, Jokonya said, was bad not only for the supporters of Supachai, but for the WTO. The supporters of respect for concept of consensus were told that consensus had served the WTO well.
"Of course it has," said Jokonya. "It has indubitably served the North well."
"For the Third World in the WTO, the undoubtedly subordinate players, our economic hope is supposed to rest in the process by which the wealth of the rich will trickle down to the poor countries of the South. Tell me why the North has not even attempted to fulfil the promises of Marrakesh if consensus has served members of this organization well. Tell my why many years after it came into being both the GATT and the WTO have never had southern representation in the Secretariat at a sufficiently high level?."
Jokonya recalled that in all the consultations and meetings, it was Egypt that had asserted the constitutional provision of resolving a deadlock by a resort to vote, and Zimbabwe had always supported it.
The request for a vote in the absence of consensus was very much a part of the process of the WTO. It was provided in Art.IX and "those who denigrate the vote as the last resort might as well tear up the WTO constitution. The vote is part of the constitution, the veto is not."
Only Friday night he had discovered that those attacking the Supachai group had not actually been aware of existence of Art. IX of the WTO Agreement. The supporters of Supachai (in mid-April) had asked the Chair to call for a consensus around him as the leading candidate. But the Chair had said both were neck to neck and he needed more time to consult. But under the pressure of deadlines, a proposal had now been put before the Council.
But the candidates were still neck to neck - "more like the neck of a hen to that of a cock, 59 to 62, in the only criteria that mattered."
And while Mchumo had to work to a time-table, "history could not fail to see that your proposal could have been put earlier and the scenario would be different from the one before us."
Jokonya put on record his dismay, and absolute incredulity at the false accusations levelled against supporters of Supachai. Zimbabwe's whole action in this campaign had been "to make the WTO more global and more acceptable."
"Leadership from the North has been the hallmark of this organization. Time has come to accept leadership from the South, given the calibre and capability of Dr. Supachai. We wish to applaud those countries from the EU who acknowledged this. We have said in the Council and through the consultation that we know that when pick comes to shovel the election of the DG would once again fulfil the observations of Greek philosophers who more than 2000 years ago said that, in the conduct of international relations, the countervailing strength of the powerful in terms of their interest will carry the day. The powerful, they said, will have their way, the weak will have their say."
In other comments, Hong Kong China said the Mchumo report has given the impression of a fine balance between the two candidates, and yet it was not clear why one was being recommended over the other. There was insufficient clarity in the report for accepting the proposal.
The US spoke of need for unity and the considerable work ahead and need for consensus. But if a vote was to be taken, it would have to be a postal ballot to enable persons not present to vote.
[While WTO officials were waving Rule 34 of the Rules of Procedure as providing for a postal ballot, and that this would take a month, the actual text of the rule, in its last sentence, merely provides that where a vote by a qualified majority of all Members is required (which is not the case in the DG selection), the General Council may decide upon request that the vote be taken by airmail ballots or ballots transmitted by telegraph or telefascimile..."]
Japan said the position seemed to remain unchanged since the 4 April statement of Mchumo. Since it was clear that a consensus was not possible around Moore, for the sake of consistency, Mchumo should place Supachai's name before the Council to see whether consensus was possible. The chairman was only authorized to present a name. No one had agreed that this name would be accepted.
Korea said that while a consensus-based decision was ideal, it was clear there was no consensus. The three criteria suggested in the report were not acceptable. The only way out was to vote.
India said a solution on the basis of equity had to be found. India shared the agony explicit in the statements of Malaysia and Zimbabwe, and the concerns expressed by Mexico and Hong Kong over portions of the report. The assessment about levels of tolerance was neither fair to Moore nor Supachai.
"It is wrong to give the impression to the outside world that Moore was opposed because he was from a developed country." It had been stated before that if there was no consensus, the matter would have to be decided by a vote. India also objected to the US statement about the denigration of the Chair, and said in the WTO a proposal from the chair was invariably discussed in an informal setting. But this did not take place on Friday. It was not therefore possible to have a vote on the chairman's proposal, but only on the candidates.
Egypt questioned the use of the "middle east region" and said the reply from the chair was not satisfactory. It was also difficult to quantify the criterion of tolerance. Consensus was often difficult, and Art IX had been put into the WTO after a great deal of debate, and on the consideration of what could be done in the event of a paralysis. But now some wanted enforcement of only the first sentence of Art. IX about GATT consensus practice. This was not possible. They had to resort to a vote to end this division. "We have a right to democracy". It was time now for someone from the developing world to manage this organization. GATT and WTO have invariably been led at higher levels by persons from the developed countries. This situation must change.
Kenya endorsed Zimbabwe's remarks, while Canada and Turkey were against voting. Turkey also argued that this was not a North-South issue and voting would turn the WTO into another UN body.
Pakistan said there were only four possible courses of action. But it was clear there was no consensus in favour of Moore. The chair should explore possibility of consensus around Supachai as Japan had proposed. In terms of Art. IX:1, there was a need to decide on which particular proposal a vote was to be taken and who was to vote. But there was no provision for absentee balloting.
There was a need to explore other alternatives. The call for unity merely recognized the existence of disunity. Morocco said the report itself said the race was too close to call. Mchumo could have recommended any one of the two candidates. The levels of support cold also change from day to day. Perhaps it would have been best for the chair not to have recommended any name. As for the talk of a veto, there have been instances in the General Council where because of objections of one member, the proposal had been dropped. A procedure must be agreed upon to clarify what constitutes consensus General Council decision. There could be no question of not having a vote. It was provided in the rules. But he did appreciate those that had some reservations. But it was clear there was no consensus and would require time. But there has to be some interim solution.
ASEAN said that the vote to be taken should be on the question at issue, namely, the selection of the next D.G. The chairman's proposal was only to facilitate the process.
Venezuela wanted the facilitator to have a dialogue with Dr. Supachai (presumably to persuade him to withdraw), a proposal which Japan rejected.
Mchumo, adjourning the meeting till Monday, said it was clear there was no consensus, but did not believe they should give up. "let us stop the clock and meet again on 3 May," he said. The criteria used was one with which, the report itself showed, not every delegation had agreed. However, in his view there was "broad support". The chair and facilitator had a mandate to propose one name to the Council, but it was for the members to evaluate it. It was clear there still remained difficulties in achieving a consensus. But this was not the end of his consultations. His proposal had only been tabled Friday and some time was needed for delegations. He hoped he could get clearer indications of possible alternatives on 3 May.
* Chakravarthi Raghavan is the Chief Editor of the South-North Development Monitor (SUNS) in which the above article first appeared.
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