The Pope of World Trade

Robin Broad at TripleCrisis <a href=””>asks why we know more about who is Pope</a> than about who holds the highest office in the World Trade Organization, the most powerful  contemporary global institution, i.e., the instrument of global oligarchy that we have instead of a democratic world government.

If you are like most people I surveyed, you know more about the selection of the pope than that of the WTO head.  And, even if you do know some of the WTO candidates, you probably don’t have much of a sense of who, if anyone, might be a better candidate for those of us who care about economic governance that balances social, environmental, and economic issues.

in terms of the WTO, civil-society groups are not much involved, not even to the extent of rallying against the worst candidates.

Right now, we’re not hearing much from any candidate  on these broader issues – be they environmental, social, or economic.  Indeed, it appears that the campaign process involves going around the globe and speaking to the World Economic Forum, chambers of commerce, and other business groups. One after another, the candidates are assuring such groups that they will do their utmost to reach out to the private sector and to get the long-deliberated and long-stalled Doha Round done.

And, no, the WTO Nine are not coming to a civil-society group near you. As far as I can tell, nobody on the WTO Nine is currently talking about how to deal with labor or other human rights issues, or how to reconfigure the Committee on Trade and Environment so that it actually offers sage advice on protecting (yes, protecting) the environment (versus the CTE’s current Alice-in-Wonderland focus on making sure that environment does not in any way interfere with the free flow of goods and services).



  1. Not that I necessarily think it's a great body, but the fact that the WTO isn't pronouncing on those matters is because it has a highly limited remit. I wouldn't want it any other way personally. I'd also take issue with it being "the most powerful contemporary global institution, i.e., the instrument of global oligarchy that we have instead of a democratic world government." That's the demonic role a lot of people would *like* it to play, along with the IMF and other motley International Financial Institutions. But the state of the Doha rounds highlights exactly the opposite: the rise of BRICS countries and others has permanently shifted the balance of power in trade negotiations. The WTO's job is currently fairly impossible (given that most developing countries see no reason to budge while us Richer folk keep agri permanently off the table while prising open other countries'...)

    As you can see here it has 629 staff, the biggest chunk of them French and the biggest job translation and doc prep. It's hardly a proto-neoliberal world government hub. (Not that neoliberalism needs it; cf. Manuel Castells).

    The WTO plays the demon role for the left that the UN does for the right. On this one, though, I think the UN is way closer to actually achieving its satanic world domination aims!

  2. The WTO is effectively the only international regulatory agency, and the WTO serves capital and capital only.

    This is a problem. Its independence from the UN is peculiar now that you mention it.

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