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World Trade Organization

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an international organization which oversees a large number of agreements covering the "rules of trade" between its member states. It was created in 1995 as a secretariat to administer the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

Unlike many other international organizations, the WTO has significant power to enforce its decisions, through the operation of its Dispute Settlement Body[?], an international trade court with the power to authorize sanctions against states which are not complying with its rulings.

Where most international organizations operate on a one country, one vote[?] basis, WTO agreements (and revisions to them) must be adopted by consensus. Commentators have concluded that the consensus governance model moves power away from developing countries, and towards large first world states, who can veto proposals they object to, and prevent formal dissent on most measures they support.

In addition, the system in which agreements, once adopted, are very hard to change, is skewed in favour of states that can continuously devote substantial resources to the analysis and negotiation of treaty terms.

The strength of the consensus model is that it allows extremely rapid globalization and agreement to standards, which would take much longer (or not occur at all) in other fora.

In the late 1990s, the WTO became a major target for protests by the Anti-globalization movement.

The WTO headquarters are located in Geneva, Switzerland. The current head (director-general) is Supachai Panitchpakdi.

Iran, which first asked to join the WTO in 1996, has seen its request repeatedly blocked by the United States, which lists Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Table of contents


January 1, 1995 - WTO came into existence, following the Marrakech Agreement.

May 1, 1995 - Renato Ruggiero[?] became director-general for a 4 year term.

September 1, 1999 - Mike Moore became director-general. The post had been fiercely contested; eventually a compromise was reached with Mike Moore and Supachai Panitchpakdi taking half each of a six year term.

November 30, 1999 - 3rd ministerial conference in Seattle, USA. The conference itself ended in failure, but the riots were spectacular.

November 9 - November 13, 2001 - 4th ministerial conference in Doha, Qatar.

December 11, 2001 - The People's Republic of China joined the WTO after 15 years of negotiations (the longest in GATT history).

September 1, 2002 - Supachai Panitchpakdi became director-general.

See Also

External links

Anti-WTO Links


  • John Braithwaite & Peter Drahos, Global Business Regulation, Cambridge University Press, 2000.

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