With Mandela’s death dominating headlines, as it should, there are few words to capture the sense of elation I feel at the news that the WTO has produced a ‘Bali package’, concluding the 12-year Doha Round.
Like many, I’ve spent years of my life ‘investing’ in the WTO, not just as a judicial forum, but as a policy-making mechanism for international trade. I BELIEVE in the WTO. I BELIEVE in multilateralism, and I BELIEVE in consensus and the single undertaking - the WTO’s thorny decision-making mechanism. Despite criticism coming out, the fact of the matter is ‘Doha-lite’ is done; Doha has ended, and this is the single greatest piece of news to come out of the WTO, perhaps since the transition from the GATT. It’s the greatest news because it means the WTO, as a legislative forum, will survive - for the time being - and when you’re invested in an organisation that has failed to survive as the ITO and the GATT, these things aren’t taken for granted. Rather than begrudge ‘Doha-lite’ or the weak rewards for developing nations - which, in my view, is still up for debate; every ministerial, developing nations advance their veteran-status in the machinery that comprises global trade rules (formal and informal) - we should congratulate the ministers, ambassadors, governments, unions, NGOs, and, particularly, the WTO staff who made the conclusion of Doha a reality that seemed almost impossible as late as Thursday night. Job well done, everyone.
And let’s not forget Director-General Azevedo … because as my friend at ECIPE knows, I, correctly, predicted the conclusion of Doha at Bali using the framework for analysis of executive leadership I developed in my doctoral research. So, you know, …go, me. :-) And go, Director-General Azevedo; I’m absolutely certain your leadership matters.