Credentials for the 11th Ministerial Conference
The Rules of Procedure for Sessions of the Ministerial Conference require each WTO Member to be “represented by an accredited representative” and to submit “credentials” of representatives to the WTO Secretariat “at least one week before the opening session” of the Ministerial Conference.
Credentials, which, in line with these Rules, are usually issued and signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, authorize select individuals “to perform on behalf of the Member the functions indicated in the WTO Agreement”.
There is no single, uniform approach for drawing up credentials for a Ministerial Conference; each WTO Member may have its own approach. However, in accordance with established practice, there are certain key elements that must be present and requirements related to deposit.
identifies authorized individuals by full name and title;
clearly authorizes named individuals to represent the Member and perform the functions indicated in the WTO Agreement at the Eleventh Ministerial Conference to be held from 10 to 13 December 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina;
is issued and signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, as a general rule;
states the date and place of issuance;
states the name and title of the signatory; and
signed original is delivered to the WTO Secretariat at least one week prior to the opening session of the Ministerial Conference.
WTO Members may rely on the following model for their credentials:
I, [name of signatory], Minister for Foreign Affairs of [WTO Member name], do hereby designate:
[name(s) of representative(s)]
[full title for each representative]
to represent [WTO Member name] at the Eleventh Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization, scheduled to be held from 10 to 13 December 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with full authority to perform the functions indicated in the WTO Agreement, as provided for in Rule 9 of the Rules of Procedure for Sessions of the Ministerial Conference (WTO document WT/L/161).
Done in [place], this [day] of [month] in the year two thousand and seventeen.
Minister of Foreign Affairs
The WTO Legal Affairs Division (firstname.lastname@example.org) is happy to comment on draft credentials before they are finalized.
Frequently Asked Questions
I have registered for the Ministerial Conference. Do I also need to submit credentials?
Yes. Registration and credentials are distinct requirements. Registration for the Ministerial Conference through the dedicated e‑registration system enables each registered WTO Member delegate to attend the Ministerial Conference. Credentials are a legal document, usually issued and signed by a WTO Member's Minister of Foreign Affairs. Credentials serve to authorize the named individuals to validly represent the WTO Member at the Ministerial Conference and, more specifically, to perform the functions indicated in the WTO Agreement on behalf of the WTO Member in question (Rules of Procedure, Rule 9).
Credentials need to be issued by the Minister of Foreign Affairs or by the “competent authority” of the relevant WTO Member (Rules of Procedure, Rule 9). Under established practice, a WTO Member's Head of State, Head of Government, or, in exceptional circumstances, highest ranking official responsible for external trade matters(1), may also issue and sign credentials. Credentials issued by Permanent Representatives or other Mission officials do not satisfy this requirement.
Can credentials be issued for only one person, e.g. the head of delegation?
Yes, although WTO Members may have an interest in issuing credentials for more than one person, as a contingency in case of impediment. This would ensure that there is at least one person present authorized to represent the Member at all times during the Ministerial Conference. A credentials document may authorize multiple individuals to represent a WTO Member and perform the functions indicated in the WTO Agreement on behalf of such Member.
Do credentials need to be issued for each member of my delegation?
WTO Members may issue credentials for as many individuals as they wish. However, credentials need not be issued for each registered delegate. Typically, credentials are not issued for delegates who, by virtue of their position or function, do not deal with the substance of the Ministerial Conference, e.g. registered administrative and support staff.
Must credentials be drafted in a particular language?
WTO Members may issue credentials in any of the three WTO languages (English, French, and Spanish). Alternatively, credentials may be issued in any other language, provided that they are accompanied by an unofficial courtesy translation into one of the three WTO languages.
Can I deposit my credentials at the Ministerial Conference?
Credentials shall be submitted to the WTO Secretariat “at least one week before the opening session” of the Ministerial Conference, i.e. no later than 3 December 2017 (Rules of Procedure, Rule 9).
How should credentials be deposited? Can I fax or email my credentials?
The original, signed credentials should be hand-delivered or sent by mail to the following address:
Legal Affairs Division
Centre William Rappard
154, rue de Lausanne
CH-1211 Geneva 2
Although the WTO Legal Affairs Division is happy to offer comments on advance copies of credentials transmitted electronically, only the original signed paper document is legally valid and acceptable.(2)
Who should I contact with additional questions?
Interested delegations are invited to contact the Depositary Assistant, Natalie Carlson (email@example.com) in the WTO Legal Affairs Division with any questions. The depositary team is happy to comment upon draft credentials prior to their finalization and signature.
- This is particularly the case for WTO Members that might not have officials with titles directly corresponding to the three positions referenced in Article 7.2(a) of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (Head of State, Head of Government, and Minister of Foreign Affairs) in a way that is acceptable for the entire WTO. back to text
- Unsigned or initialled credentials in the form of notes verbales, even bearing the seal of the Ministry or the Presidency, are not sufficient. Photocopies or electronic copies of credentials are also not acceptable. back to text
Rules of Procedure for Sessions of the Ministerial Conference (WT/L/161)
Each Member shall be represented by an accredited representative.
Each representative may be accompanied by such alternates and advisers as the representative may require.
The credentials of representatives shall be submitted to the Secretariat at least one week before the opening of the session. They shall take the form of a communication from or on behalf of the Minister for Foreign Affairs or the competent authority of the Member authorizing the representative to perform on behalf of the Member the functions indicated in the WTO Agreement.(1) The Chairperson after consulting with the Secretariat shall draw attention to any case where a representative has omitted to present credentials in due time and form.
- It is understood that in the case of a separate customs territory Member the credentials of its representatives shall have no implication as to sovereignty. back to text
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