Article V:2 of the Marrakesh Agreement calls upon the General Council
“make appropriate arrangements for consultation and
cooperation with non-governmental organizations concerned with matters
related to those of the WTO.”(1) In accordance
with this mandate, the Secretariat was given the task by the General
Council in the 1996 Guidelines For Arrangements on Relations With
Non-Governmental Organizations of playing
“a more active role in
its direct contacts with NGOs … [T]his interaction … should be
developed through various means such as inter alia the organization on
an ad hoc basis of symposia on specific WTO-related issues, informal
arrangements to receive the information NGOs may wish to make
available for consultation by interested delegations and the
continuation of past practice of responding to requests for general
information and briefings about the WTO.”(2)
pursuit of the objectives set out in the 1996 Guidelines, the
Secretariat has been giving consideration to activities that might be
carried out with NGOs in the months leading up to the Fourth
Ministerial Conference and also at the Doha meeting itself. As in the
past, the basic objective of this programme of activities is to
facilitate and encourage substantive and responsible discussion with
NGOs on issues falling within the WTO's mandate.
activities between now and the Fourth Ministerial Conference
NGO dialogues and briefings at the WTO back
NGO lunchtime dialogues:
representatives who have published trade-related studies or reports on
issues falling within the WTO's mandate may be invited to the Centre
William Rappard for an informal discussion of their work with
interested delegations and secretariat officials. The selection would
be made by the Secretariat but members are encouraged to submit names
of NGOs which could be invited.
issue-driven, “open dialogue” discussions:
informal dialogues will be organized on issues of concern to NGOs
that fall within the WTO mandate, for participants from NGOs,
members, and Secretariat. These events would be kept relatively
small in order to facilitate substantive discussion. Where
possible, they could take place back-to-back with WTO meetings on
issues of concern to NGOs. In order to ensure the presence of
non-Geneva-based NGOs, in particular from developing countries,
dialogues could also be organized around meetings of other
international bodies in Geneva which attract NGOs.
NGO briefings will be organized after WTO meetings of interest to
NGOs, including General Council sessions on preparations for
Participation of NGOs in technical seminars organized by the WTO
Secretariat in Geneva back
will be explored to allow interested NGO representatives to attend
technical seminars organized for members by the Secretariat (e.g. the
recent Symposium on Tourism Services).
Organization of stand-alone workshops by the WTO Secretariat back
is being given to the possibility of organizing one or more
stand-alone workshops covering issues of interest to NGOs falling
within the WTO's mandate. Such workshops could be organized both
regionally and in Geneva and should wherever possible complement
national activities by the members. Any workshops organized in Geneva
would most likely be larger events than those planned regionally.
Workshops of this nature would, in accordance with past practice, be
organized under the Secretariat's own responsibility.
website outreach back
Secretariat will continue to use its website to disseminate
information about the WTO, announce events and activities, engage in
discussion, and generally increase transparency and raise the profile
of our NGO-related activities. Some activities that are planned or
currently underway on the website include:
An interactive electronic discussion forum was established two
months ago. The forum provides for active and self-initiated
discussions between interested individuals and organizations. In
order to focus the discussion further, theme-specific for a of
defined duration are being planned by the WTO Secretariat. Where
possible, this will be done in cooperation with other
international organizations and individual (academic) experts.
position papers: NGO position papers on WTO-related activities
will continue to be published on the WTO website. In the run-up to
Qatar, the number of position papers is likely to grow. Increasing
numbers of position papers are already made available in
downloadable format. In addition, the papers will be divided by
subject for ease of reference.
in the news”: The Secretariat is exploring the possibility of
using the NGO page on its website to post temporarily NGO
positions and statements on issues within the WTO's mandate. These
should address current issues.
bulletin: The Secretariat publishes a monthly bulletin containing
information about WTO and WTO Secretariat activities and events of
interest to NGOs.
of website in preparations for Doha: The website will serve as a
vital tool for disseminating information about the logistical
arrangements for NGOs attending the 4th Ministerial Conference and
for NGO accreditation procedures.
involving NGOs at Doha back
WTO Secretariat will be working further on a programme of activities
for NGOs during the Doha meeting. This will be done in consultation
with interested Members and NGOs. Some of the activities under
consideration include the following:
General Daily NGO briefings
WTO Secretariat would brief registered NGOs once or twice a day
about the proceedings of the Ministerial. Arrangements would also
be made for ministers or officials of members who wish to brief
Issue-specific NGO briefings
issue-specific briefings would also be provided for registered
NGOs, involving the relevant WTO Secretariat Directors and/or
staff. The subject-matter of such briefings would be determined by
the state of play at the Ministerial Meeting and the interests
expressed by NGOs.
Workshops organized by the WTO Secretariat
would be organized by the WTO Secretariat on issues of interest to
NGOs. These events would take place at the NGO Centre and would be
open to all participants at the WTO Ministerial.