Location: Geneva, Switzerland
Established: 1 January 1995
Created by: Uruguay Round negotiations (1986-94)
Membership: 153 countries on 23 July 2008 (117 developingcountries)
Budget: 194 million Swiss francs for 2010
Secretariat staff: 637
Head: Pascal Lamy (Director-General)
Functions: • Administering WTO trade agreements
• Forum for trade negotiations
• Handlingtrade disputes
• Monitoring national trade policies
• Technical assistance and training for developing countries
• Cooperation with other international organizations
16 different multilateralagreements
The WTO is a Common Law–based system, which is typically an Anglo-Saxon system. This means that they are referring to previous encountered and solved cases. It also meansthat once a decision has been taken regarding a case for one or two countries, it then applies to all countries.
Four levels of decision can be identified in order to describe the WTO structure.At the very first level states the Ministerial Conference. Its power and range of action is very large as it can take decision on any topic or issue. But in practice, the Trade Ministers who areforming this Conference do actually not take much decision. It appears to be more a representation or show-off event that takes place every two years.
The second level of analysis is actually wherethe decisions are taken: The General Council. It is split into three entities, which assume most of the everyday tasks. First is the Dispute Settlement Body, which manages the procedures to solvedisputes. Then is the Trade Policy Review Body, which has a look at the trade policies of the WTO members. Every year a new chairman is elected and all WTO members take place in this Body. The last entityis the General Council itself. This body takes most of the decisions of the WTO. It is the essential entity of the organisation.
The third level of decision in the organisation is the level of...
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