Overview of the WTO Secretariat

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Secretariat common purpose

The responsibility of the WTO Secretariat is to provide top-quality, independent support to WTO member governments on all of the activities that are carried out by the Organization, and to serve the WTO with professionalism, impartiality and integrity.

The Secretariat is a multicultural team of highly-qualified individuals who possess the wide range of skills, knowledge and experience required to handle the Secretariat's responsibilities and to work together as an efficient and diligent international civil service.


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Role of the Secretariat

The WTO Secretariat, with offices only in Geneva, has 625 regular staff and is headed by a Director-General. Since decisions are taken by Members only, the Secretariat has no decision-making powers. Its main duties are to supply technical and professional support for the various councils and committees, to provide technical assistance for developing countries, to monitor and analyze developments in world trade, to provide information to the public and the media and to organize the ministerial conferences. The Secretariat also provides some forms of legal assistance in the dispute settlement process and advises governments wishing to become Members of the WTO.

The Secretariat staff of includes individuals representing about 83 nationalities. The professional staff is composed mostly of economists, lawyers and others with a specialization in international trade policy. There is also a substantial number of personnel working in support services, including informatics, finance, human resources and language services. The total staff complement is composed almost equally of men and women. The working languages of the WTO are English, French and Spanish.

The Appellate Body was established by the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes to consider appeals to decisions by Dispute Settlement panels. The Appellate Body has its own Secretariat. The seven-member Appellate Body consists of individuals with recognized standing in the fields of law and international trade. They are appointed to a four-year term, and may be reappointed once


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WTO staff on regular budget by gender and nationality, as of 31 December 2021

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Allocation of staff by division, as of 31 December 2021 (number of posts)*


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WTO staff on regular budget by grade and gender, as of 31 December 2021



1. Regular budget posts include posts not yet filled. back to text

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