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Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala appointed WTO head

Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala appointed WTO head:


Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been appointed the new chief of the World Trade Organization, becoming the first woman to ever lead the institution and the first African citizen to take on the role.

Roles and functions of Director General of WTO:

The director-general of the World Trade Organization is the officer of the World Trade Organization responsible for supervising and directing the organization’s administrative operations.

  • The Director-General has little power over matters of policy – the role is primarily advisory and managerial.
  • The Director-General supervises the WTO secretariat of about 700 staff and is appointed by WTO members for a term of four years.

WTO- facts:

  • World Trade Organization, as an institution, was established in 1995. It replaced General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) which was in place since 1946.
  • The WTO officially commenced on 1 January 1995 under the Marrakesh Agreement, signed by 123 nations on 15 April 1994.
  • India has been a member of GATT since 1948; hence it was party to Uruguay Round and a founding member of WTO.
  • While WTO came in to existence in 1995, GATT didn’t cease to exist. It continues as WTO’s umbrella treaty for trade in goods.

Structure of WTO:

The WTO is headed by the Ministerial Conference, while the daily operations are carried out by three administrative bodies:

  1. The General Council comprises the representatives of all member countries and acts as the representative of the Ministerial Conference when it comes to daily operations. Its job is to carry out the implementation and monitoring function of the WTO.
  2. The Dispute Settlement Body is a part of the General Council and is responsible for settling trade disputes between member states. There is also an Appellate Body, where member states can appeal any decisions made against them during a dispute settlement.
  3. The Trade Policy Review Body is also a part of the General Council and is responsible for ensuring the trade policies of member states are in line with the goals of the WTO. Member countries are required to inform the WTO about changes in their laws and trade policies.


Prelims Link:

  1. About WTO.
  2. Structure and functions.
  3. Role of DG.
  4. Members.
  5. About the Marrakesh Agreement.

Mains Link:

The WTO has made limited progress over the past two decades on various issues of significance. Do you think WTO as an institution is in decline? Critically comment.

Sources: the Hindu.