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DOHA WTO MINISTERIAL 2001: BACKGROUND PAPER
Comments by the Director-General at the General Council on 18 July 2001

As I have done at previous meetings of the General Council, and every opportunity in-between, I want to draw to the attention of Members the enormous pressure we face in terms of available rooms in Doha.

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Past WTO Ministerials
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Geneva, 1998
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Singapore, 1996

 

 


Let me recall that our host, the Government of Qatar, has undertaken to make available 4,400 rooms for this Conference. Members have accepted this offer and in all meetings I have had with Qatari officials they have reassured me concerning this commitment. I am, of course, always hopeful some additional flexibility might be forthcoming. But all of us have a duty to defend our host because their offer was made on the basis of a certain number of rooms and they are honouring their promise. That is that. 

In light of the number of rooms members have agreed for the conference, there is a need to exercise the greatest possible restraint in deciding the size of your delegations. The Secretariat will do the same. I therefore appeal to members to show restraint. Let me add that members have agreed on attendance at the conference by other key categories such as media and Non-Governmental Organizations. Their attendance must also be managed within the agreed number of rooms. 
 

Official Delegations 

The deadline for members to return their registration forms and give information concerning delegations is 31 July. This deadline was decided upon to give our host sufficient time to do the appropriate processing. The registration forms were contained in the box files sent to delegations some considerable time ago. It is essential that the requested information be provided in timely fashion. In the event that members are not able to provide the full information by the requested deadline, it is crucially important that by the end of the month you give us, at the least, some indication of the size of your delegation. Could you also supply us with the name of your designated Delegation Coordinator. Please send this information to the office of Mr. Jacques Chabert, Head of the Secretariat's Logistical Task Force.

I do not think we can rule out the possibility that discussions will have to take place among members to decide on more radical means to achieve the right balance. 
 

Non-Governmental Organizations 

At its meeting on 8 May, the General Council agreed specific procedures for registration and attendance of NGOs at the Doha Conference. Following this meeting, the procedures were immediately circulated for the information of members in document WT/MIN(01)/INF/3. They were placed on the WTO website to inform interested NGOs of how to register for the conference. We also disseminated the information in our regular NGO Bulletin and through other activities. I am aware too that many member governments circulated the information to NGOs in their respective countries. Some of the larger NGOs were also proactive in this regard. 

Concerning the agreed deadlines, the 2 July deadline for NGOs to submit their registration requests has now passed and no further applications will be processed. The requests received before the deadline are now being reviewed and in order that the Secretariat, the host country and NGOs have sufficient time to prepare for the conference, the Secretariat is required to prepare a list of organizations eligible for registration (under the agreed criteria) and circulate this list to WTO members for their information. Immediately thereafter, NGOs will be informed about further arrangements concerning their attendance and registration forms will be sent. NGOs must complete and return the forms by 17 September. Confirmation of registration will be sent to the NGOs as from 1 October. 

In deciding on the procedures regarding registration and attendance by NGOs at Doha, the General Council noted that depending on the number of NGOs wanting to attend, it could not be excluded that certain limits may have to be imposed. It is already evident that the number of NGOs wanting to attend is considerable and we will need to insist on some limits. At the same time, however, we are still awaiting clear information from members as to their accommodation requirements. 

In light of these factors, and with the agreement of members, it is my intention to proceed as follows. The list of NGOs eligible for registration will be circulated for the information of members on Friday 3 August. NGOs will then be advised on Friday 10 August giving them just over a month to complete and return the relevant registration forms. I realise this procedure includes work in the August break, but it is important that NGOs are given adequate time to prepare. 
 

Media 

Media interest in the conference will be considerable. It is important, therefore, that adequate provision is made for their attendance. The deadline for media registration is 24 September but already indications are that requests will exceed even the number of NGOs wanting to attend. As we proceed with logistical preparations, I will be working to ensure that suitable provision is made for media attendance.

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