The WTO, an organization in crisis?

The virulence of the external protests (or the active presence of groups of interest and opinion) experienced by the World Trade Organization in December of 1999, do not alone explain the failure of the negotiations. These criticisms equally come from the interior pinpointing a poorly adapted functioning and outdated methods of management and decision making. For example, the disparity in objectives observable in a number of dilemmas existed long before the Seattle summit, and since remain unresolved. It is important to note that, without an institutional mandate like that of the World Bank or the IMF, the WTO does not have the possibility to create a derivative law. However, this institutional minimalism is the product of a deliberate choice in favor of an organization designed simply to accompany the process of liberalization, and not endowed with any real capacity of autonomy or intervention. Perhaps it would be simplistic to reduce the results of the Seattle summit to a reawakening of the North-South fracture, but the problems of representation and clarity of objectives have given birth to a global distrust of the WTO by developing countries, while the developed countries, in particular occidental countries, have a more ambivalent approach which includes efforts of instrumentalization. In short, if the objectives change, the means must be adjusted, and it is first upon the states that this task falls. Beyond any discourse there needs to be a real political will in this direction. Still it is difficult to understand the conditions of the present crisis. Up until the present, the American political calendar has not allowed a true restart of the process, but we can at least hope that as soon as it does recommence, it will be accompanied by a new pedagogy and very necessary ideological reflection. – Summary AFRI-2001