This research assesses the mediating role of the Director General (DG) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as Chair of the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC). The departure point of this paper is that the character of the position of the TNC Chairperson lends itself to a mediating role, a crucial feature that is often under-estimated. The paper looks at the precise features of the multilateral trade negotiations that qualify the DG as a mediator. The WTO is regarded as a Member driven organization consisting of 159 country members. The Chairs of various negotiating bodies within the WTO are expected to be impartial and objective, thereby ensuring transparency, inclusiveness in the consultative process and in decision making, while aiming to facilitate consensus.
The concepts of neutrality and partiality are analysed as determinants of failure or success in the exercise of the role of a mediator, in particular as this concerns the WTO negotiations. In this research I argue that poor conception of the mediatory aspect of this role is what has undermined progress in the negotiations. A literature review is offered in order to shed more light on the definition and meaning of the concepts of neutrality and impartiality as they relate to the role of the mediator. This also provides a contextual overview of the role of the WTO and the various actors that constitute it. I demonstrate here how these concepts can sometimes be used interchangeably and, more importantly, I highlight the misunderstanding in the application of these concepts in the field of mediation. The case study that this paper focuses on is the July 2008 WTO Ministerial Meeting, which also serves as the backdrop to advance an argument that the lack of impartiality of the “mediator” in these negotiations was responsible for the failure of the July 2008 WTO Ministerial meeting.
Since the July 2008 Ministerial Meeting was a milestone towards the conclusion of the Doha Development Round in Multilateral Trade Negotiations, the failure of this Ministerial Meeting has had serious implications for the successful conclusion of the Round or inability of members’ interests to find consensus.
The research concludes that although the mediator cannot be completely neutral, this position requires impartiality. This particularly applies with respect to the process and content of negotiations, while at the same time assisting to facilitate consensus among members of the WTO.
Mini-dissertation (MDIPS)--University of Pretoria, 2015.