Since the conclusion of the Uruguay Round in 1994 and the creation of the WTO in 1995, the functioning of the multilateral trading system has been the focus of a considerable number of articles, proposals and debates. With the exception of a few important initiatives on transparency and decision-making, most contributions on the functioning of the WTO have been made by external observers of the WTO. However, over the past two years, an increasing number of Members have showed interest in systemic and institutional issues. This interest has to a large extent been generated by a concern about the role of the multilateral trading system in the overall international economic environment, particularly in light of the current global financial crisis. At the same time, the WTO as an institution is under considerable pressure following more than a decade of efforts to conclude the Doha Round of trade negotiations. This paper explores the possibility of establishing a Working Party on the Functioning of the WTO as a separate, deliberative process in the WTO. It seeks to outline the advantages of creating an informal forum or space for discussion among WTO Members and argues that many WTO Members appear to be ready for a broad discussion of institutional and systemic challenges facing the multilateral trading system.
GATT/WTO functioning of the WTO institutional reform systemic reform