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Voting by Consensus in The World Trade Organization - Essay Example

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Voting by Consensus in the World Trade Organization Name of Institution Date Voting by Consensus in the World Trade Organization The World Trade Organization (WTO) is a global international organization that deals with the trade rules between nations…
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Voting by Consensus in The World Trade Organization
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Voting by Consensus in The World Trade Organization

Download file to see previous pages... The WTO was created in order to create enforceable and binding international trade rules which are critical in promoting international trade and cooperation. Just like many of the international organizations, WTO was created to improve the socio-economic wellbeing of the individual countries and that of the world in general. In particular, WTO was to achieve this goal through trade. The Ministerial Conference is the highest authority in WTO structure; the General Council is the second level within the WTO structure; the third level in WTO structure is the councils for each board of trade; below the third level are the subsidiary bodies of the higher level councils.3 As has been noted, WTO’s main objective is to create an enforceable and binding international trade rules. As such, it needs a decision-making system which is effective and with ability to resolve the often diverging interests. It is against the background of this necessity that the WTO adopted a decision-making process that is based on consensus voting system.4 Consensus voting system refers to the voting process that aims at identifying the best consensus opinion that is arrived at through a balanced system of voting. In this type of voting, each party (in this case each member country) is allowed to suggest a proposal for debate.5 During the debate session, representatives of these countries ask questions, suggest new ideas, and seek clarifications. In this system of voting, wide ranges of voting options that have been developed in consultation with stakeholders are presented. Thereafter, decision makers are invited to rank these options- an option with higher preference gets more points.6 The practice of consensus dominates the decision-making process of the WTO even though the WTO Agreement foresees circumstances where consensus cannot be achieved. Its predecessor (GATT) did not use consensus but instead used voting as a way of making decisions. The evolution of GATT to WTO resulted to the shift from voting to consensus in the process of decision-making. The consensus voting system has worked comparatively well in the decision-making process of WTO.7 Nonetheless, this system of voting imputes that the deadlock risk and specifically the inability of a member state to legislatively respond where it is not agreeing with the panel’s interpretation or the legal interpretation of the Appellate Body.8 It has been argued that this system has intrinsically favors the status quo thereby making it difficult to effect changes. Besides, the consensus voting system has been said not to provide for influence and decision equality because not every participant has similar ability to maintain vetoes. While it is agreeable that consensus has numerous advantages, it is questionable whether this system is more democratic than the voting system that takes into account the majority rule.9 There are several instances when consensus voting system has been used in WTO’s decision-making processes. A case in point is the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC) that was decided upon based on consensus. The member states negotiated the pre-WTO clothing quotas of between 1974 and 1994 which had been negotiated upon bilaterally and was governed by the Multi-Fiber- Agreement ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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