Statement by the Chair of the General Council, 26 April 2013
Good afternoon. I welcome you to this informal meeting of Heads of Delegation and thank you once again for attending the meeting at short notice.
The purpose of this meeting is to allow me, assisted by the Facilitators in this exercise — the Chair of the Dispute Settlement Body, Amb. Fried, and the Chair of the Trade Policy Review Body, Amb. Reiter — to report to the membership on the outcome of the second round of consultations concerning the selection of the next Director-General. This is in accordance with the Procedures for the Appointment of Directors-General agreed in December 2002, contained in document WT/L/509, and is also in line with our commitment to transparency, inclusiveness and full participation, as we set out in the beginning of this final step of the process, reflected in document JOB/GC/39.
The organization of work for this second round of consultations followed closely that of the first round. The Facilitators and I conducted the consultations from 16 to 24 April. Each Member, whether Geneva-based or non-resident, was asked the same precise question, i.e. “What are your preferences?”. And as reflected in document JOB/GC/40 from 12 April, we strongly urged and stressed our expectation that each Member provide two preferences — not more, not less — in this round. 158 Members came forward to express their preferences.
As set out in paragraph 18 of the 2002 Procedures, allow me now to report on the outcome of this second round of consultations.
First, the results that flowed from our consultations in this second round are clear and unambiguous.
Second, they were dictated by your expressions of preferences, and our assessment has been guided strictly by the elements set out in paragraph 17 of the 2002 Procedures. In this respect, I would refer delegations to my statement of 12 April in JOB/GC/40.
Third, for the sake of transparency, I wish to inform you that practically all Members came forward with two preferences, as I, and the Facilitators, had requested. In fact, out of the 158 Members that came forward with preferences, only three Members deviated from this principle. These very few deviations did not affect the result of the consultations at all. I thank the membership for their co-operation and adherence to the number of preferences.
Fourth, the results of your preferences were communicated yesterday to the Members whose candidates were on the revised slate of names, i.e. on 25 April 2013. In this brief meeting, I highlighted that paragraph 18 of the Procedures stipulates that: “It is understood that the candidate or candidates least likely to attract consensus shall withdraw”. This is accordingly the only firm obligation for the candidates and the Members who nominated them.
Fifth, in accordance with my statement on 19 March in JOB/GC/39, you will recall that three candidates are expected to withdraw in the second round. Thus, in line with the clear preference expressed by Members, there will be only two candidates in the third and final round.
On the basis of all of the above, and in keeping with the Procedures, our assessment of the preferences provided to us by you during this second stage of consultations is that the following three candidates are least likely to attract consensus. These three candidates, in the order in which their nominations were received, and not in ascending or descending order of preferences, are:
— Ms Mari Elka Pangestu (Indonesia)
— Mr Tim Groser (New Zealand)
— Mr Taeho Bark (Republic of Korea)
Let me highlight that your preferences produced the same results for each of these three candidates, measured in any manner.
Therefore, we will begin the third and final round of consultations based on a revised slate of two candidates, again in the order in which their nominations were received, as follows:
— Mr Herminio Blanco (Mexico)
— Mr Roberto Carvalho de Azevêdo (Brazil)
These consultations will begin on Wednesday afternoon, 1 May, and continue through midday Tuesday 7 May. My colleagues and I, jointly, will be available to meet with individual delegations in room 2011 at the WTO, for 5 minutes each, from 9.15 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3 to 6.30 p.m. each day. A fax in this regard will be sent out this afternoon.
In line with paragraph 6 of the Procedures, our aim continues to be to encourage and facilitate the building of consensus among Members, and to assist in moving from this second revised slate of candidates to a final decision on appointment. As this is the final phase of the consultation process, it should bring us to the point where we can make a recommendation to the General Council concerning that decision. This means, as stated in paragraph 17 of the Procedures, identifying the candidate around whom consensus can be built.
With this in mind, we shall invite delegations to respond to the question: “What is your preference?”.
These consultations will continue to be at the level of Heads of Delegation in their capacity as representatives of Members. We will again make arrangements to consult non-resident Members directly, including meeting in person with those present during the Geneva week. As in the previous rounds, all the information we receive from Members will be treated by us in strict confidence.
In assessing the information we receive and reporting to Members, we shall again be governed by the elements set out in paragraph 17 of the Procedures and by past practice. The Facilitators and I will continue to act strictly within the agreed Procedures and the organization of work set out in document JOB/GC/39.
As we have done for the first two rounds, the outcome of the round will be given to the Members who nominated candidates who are on the revised slate for round three immediately after the round. The following day, it will be reported to all Members at an open-ended meeting of Heads of Delegation, which we intend to hold on Wednesday 8 May. If there is any change in this plan, we will advise delegations by fax.
Let me again reiterate that this process is your process: the decision to appoint the new Director-General will be yours to make.
Before I end my statement, I would like to say a few words with regard to the three candidates who are not listed on the slate for the final round of consultations. On behalf of the entire membership, I would like to express gratitude for their participation in this selection process. As Members have recognized, they are persons of outstanding background and qualifications, and possess extensive and varied experience in international relations at the very highest levels of policy-making. Having listened to you, we know that making a choice has clearly been very difficult. I am sure you will all agree with us that in coming forward and participating in the selection process, the candidates have made a significant contribution to the standing and image of the WTO.
I would also like to pay tribute to the Governments of Indonesia, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea, and to the respective Geneva Representatives for contributing to this process with dignity and fairness. They have reaffirmed once again their firm commitment to the multilateral trading system, and I believe that the WTO has greatly benefited from it.