University of Oxford, Global Economic Governance Programme (GEG), Oxford
The debate on the institutional reform and governance of the WTO has now been underway for over fifteen years. In 1999, only five years after the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the collapse of the Seattle Ministerial Conference provoked intense demands for reform. By 2003, the failure of the Cancun WTO Ministerial again sparked debate on WTO reform. Two years later, when Pascal Lamy took over the reins as WTO Director-General, he proposed that WTO reform should be a key post-Doha priority. In the context of a Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations stumbling forward in fits and starts, the most prominent focus of discussions of WTO reform has been options for improving the process of the WTO negotiation process. Throughout the past ten years, however, there have also been a number of broader debates about the governance of the multilateral trading system and calls for institutional reform at the WTO. Most recently, the onset of global financial crisis in 2008 reignited more wide-ranging interest in the role of the WTO in global economic management, prompting calls for the WTO to do more to sustain a global open trading system, and in particular to take greater leadership on issues of trade finance, aid for trade, and surveillance of protectionist measures.