In international economic relations a number of developments have been of particular note recently which facilitate communication flows and in particular transparency in the system. These developments are to be found in the WTO. First, the appointment for the first time in July/August 2005 through advertisement and open competition for the posts of Deputy Director Generals in the WTO. This initiative under the headship of the new Director General of the WTO, Pascal Lamy, is indeed to be welcomed. It is noted though that the criteria for appointment included the requirement of experience in government and/or international organisation. The particular appointments therefore reflected this criterion, along with the expectations of the membership of the WTO. There may be sound reasons for the inclusion of such a criterion but arguably this condition may also have excluded some equally meritorious cases for appointment. However, as Pascal Lamy has stated on his first day of appointment to the press:
�the WTO Director-General has no magic wand. Things don't work this way in the WTO. Members have the decision-making power. We can catalyze, we can broker. Sometimes, sometimes we can lead, but at the end of the day they take the decision, and that's why I have to start this series of contacts.� [1st September 2005]
Second, of note is the opening up of the Panel proceedings on the 12 to 15 September 2005 for the first time to the public for observation at the request of the parties to the disputes in the �Continued suspension of obligations in the EC�hormones dispute� (US � Continued suspension of obligations in the EC�hormones dispute, DS320; and Canada � Continued suspension of obligations in the EC�hormones dispute, DS321) at WTO Headquarters, in Geneva. This is indeed an interesting judicial innovation that has the semblance of pre-empting some of the negotiations on dispute settlement reform. It is not clear though why this transparency is confined to Geneva alone --- given modern broadcasting technology.
Finally, of note is the open tender inviting applications for the review of WTO technical assistance. This is significant not only in terms of the process by which reviewers are being recruited but also in the objective externally reviewed exercise in self-scrutiny that is being engaged in. Of course such an initiative which has the hall mark of being donor driven may also be extended into other spheres of WTO operations.
In conclusion some communication flows in the WTO have indeed been driven by tenets of good governance. These are welcome developments that need to embrace the WTO operations more generally.
Asif H Qureshi