Voting in the WTO? It won’t happen

Why nothing has changed on voting in the WTO, and why it would destroy the WTO if it happened

By Peter Ungphakorn
POSTED MAY 19, 2021 | UPDATED MARCH 25, 2022

Suddenly people are talking about voting in the World Trade Organization (WTO). Again.

Only a few months ago it was suggested as a way to break the deadlock in selecting the new director-general.

Thankfully that was settled when the new Biden administration flipped the US’s position and backed Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

After that, it was about the proposal to waive intellectual property obligations in the WTO related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Then it re-emerged over actions that might be taken in the WTO against Russia for invading Ukraine.

After the appointment of Okonjo-Iweala was settled, it was the US’s change of heart over the intellectual property waiver that encouraged new calls for a vote, although activists were talking about it almost as soon as the waiver was mooted. They looked at the rules, saw voting was an option, and concluded this was the best way to overcome resistance.

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