A few words are in order to mark the passing a few days ago of James Wolfensohn.  He was a towering figure in the liberal multilateral order created over seventy years ago at Bretton Woods, in San Francisco, and in Havana.  He would have been very much at home introducing this week’s webinar series on trade for peace.  Here is what he said in an address to the Governors of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in their joint meeting in 1997:

“we live in a world which last year alone saw 26 inter-state wars and 23 million refugees. One does not have to spend long in Bosnia, or Gaza or the lakes district in Africa to know that without economic hope we will not have peace.”

The world has not banished conflicts.  There is hardly a week that goes by that the press does not carry stories of conflicts in diverse places, often in countries seeking accession to the WTO for the sake of gaining stability and a better chance at achieving and sustaining peace, and often with a program or at least a mission from the World Bank.  

During his tenure at the World Bank, in the early years of hope at the WTO, James Wolfensohn would regularly meet at WTO Ministerial Meetings with Trade Ministers.  This practice extended through the terms of office of at least three successive WTO Directors-General, cementing a bond between our two organizations that has endured over this last quarter century of the WTO’s existence.  

We at the WTO look forward to continuing and strengthening the collaboration with the Bank to foster our respective missions, working together to support the attainment of peace within and among our Members and those who are now seeking to accede to the WTO.



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