One more try for consensus around Moore?

by Chakravarthi Raghavan

Geneva, 15 June -- An informal meeting of the General Council Tuesday afternoon is to be told by Chairman Amb. Ali Mchumo of Tanzania that 80 members are now supporting the Mchumo proposal to elect Mike Moore as the next Director- General, but that several maintain their formal objection, and others have said they could not support the proposal so long as objections remain.

In a statement to the media, Moore held out the prospect of a long new process and possible deadlock, and argued for his own choice as consensus Director-General.

Moore quoted from the Mchumo statement, and said a heavy preponderance of WTO members supported him, though there was as yet no consensus. Moore added that if he is not elected, a new process and new candidates would result in many more months, with no guarantee that there would not be further deadlock.

An informal text of Mchumo's latest report of his consultations was made available to the Council members Tuesday morning, in advance of the informal meeting.

According to some trade diplomats, there is little indication that there will be any break-through. Aggrieved by what they see is an unfair process, the supporters of Dr.Supachai Panitchpakdi are standing firm, while even the supporters of Moore do not see him being chosen by the present process, and are unwilling to have a vote.

The chances are that the Council would have to call a halt to the present process that began in July 1998, and consider a new process to name a Director-General, some trade diplomats said.

The present process has been so muddied as to become counter- productive, and no one selected this way will be able to function, they said.

The informal meeting is set to be held after the end of the formal session of the General Council to complete some outstanding work.

The formal meeting of the Council on the D.G. selection process has been set for Wednesday evening. The Council last met on 26 May.

According to some trade diplomats, in his statement made available in advance of the informal General Council meeting, Mchumo has said that since the last meeting, he has been continuing to hold further informal consultations and that some 80 members now support his proposal (made on 30 April, when Mchumo said that his consultations showed Moore had support of 62 members against 59 for his rival Supachai) to elect Moore by consensus. Among the 80 are said to be those who are supporting the proposal for "institutional reasons." Mchumo also reportedly has said that while a number of countries have remained silent, "in accordance with the principle of consensus, they may be assumed to be ready to support the Chairman's proposal".

However, he has acknowledged several members had informed him that they maintained their formal objections to this proposal, while others have said they would be unable to support it so long as the objection was sustained. "As things now stand, therefore, while a heavy preponderance of the Membership of the WTO would support my proposal, I cannot conclude that there is yet a consensus in favour of the appointment of Mr. Moore" Mr. Mchumo has added.

Mchumo's statement also refers to the Kenyan proposal that the Council try to build a consensus around Supachai -- a proposal that has been formally tabled according to the rules, but has not been formally placed before the Council for its views, though it has been the subject of considerable procedural discussion. According to Mchumo, his informal consultations showed those opposed to the Kenyan proposal continue to remain so.

Mike Moore's comment said Mchumo statement showed that there was "yet to be a consensus" for Moore but that there could be no consensus for other proposals or another candidate. "However, there are a few that have always wanted a deadlock so they can bring in a fifth person who would not have survived the rigours of a transparent process and all that meant, including 'presentations' and scrutiny," Moore said in his statement.

But since most of the other candidates being mentioned or promoted from time to time appear to be from those now supporting Moore, and loudly opposing Supachai, it was not clear whom Moore was criticising.

Moore however added: "A new process and new candidates would not be swift or easy. It would take many months and there would be no guarantee that there would not be a further deadlock." (SUNS4456)

The above article first appeared in the South-North Development Monitor (SUNS) of which Chakravarthi Raghavan is the Chief Editor.

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