What explains this turn of events? On the positive side, you can suggest that Pascal Lamy has displayed exemplary leadership, gaining support from both developed and developing countries with his even-handed and accommodative style. Cambridge's Amrita Narlikar would probably agree with this assessment. OTOH, I can think of several other reasons that are much less positive about this development:
- Lamy's stature is such that he's scared away potential LDC candidates;
- being WTO chief is an unwanted job circa 2009. As countries the world over experience economic slowdowns, the prospects for an agreement on the Doha Round are as dim as ever;
- LDCs have more important things on their agendas than the symbolism offered by having one of their own preside over the WTO;
- LDCs simply don't care much about the WTO--it has become an irrelevant institution.
The World Trade Organisation said Monday that its current director-general, Pascal Lamy, would be unopposed in his bid to renew his mandate when it expires in August this year. None of the organisation's 153 member states put forward another candidate by the deadline of December 31, 2008, WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell told AFP.They used to regard this as a plum job. I guess not anymore.
Lamy, who took the helm of the global trade watchdog in September 2005, announced last November that he would aim to take on a second term in office when his current four-year mandate expires in August.
The WTO's members are due to elect the next chief at a meeting of the trade watchdog's ruling General Council next month. Lamy is "practically assured" of re-election, a source close to the WTO said. It is the first time that an incumbent director-general will stand unopposed, the source added.
Previous leadership races at the global trade body have often been fractious affairs that highlighted splits between rich and poor countries or between Europeans and the United States. In 1999, the wrangling was only resolved by a compromise decision to appoint the two outstanding candidates on a shortened term of three years each. Former New Zealand prime minister Mike Moore was followed by the former deputy prime minister minister of Thailand, Supachai Panitchpakdi.
Lamy, a former French government official and the European Union's trade commissioner until 2004, has championed the rules-based global free trade system the WTO represents during his tenure and warned against protectionism.
UPDATE: Carolyn Deere of the ICTSD also believes that Pascal Lamy shouldn't be given a free pass.