Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala took WTO office on 1 March 2021


DG Okonjo-Iweala: WTO can deliver results if members “accept we can do things differently”

Addressing the WTO General Council immediately after taking office on 1 March, Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala called on members to “do things differently” to achieve reforms necessary to keep the WTO relevant, starting with swift action to curb harmful fisheries subsidies, and to help scale up COVID-19 vaccine production and distribution. The new head of the WTO noted that high expectations for her tenure can only be met if members are willing to compromise and reach agreements.

DG Okonjo-Iweala suggested that prospects for a successful Twelfth Ministerial Conference would be enhanced if members target a manageable number of deliverables for this year, and set up longer work programmes to address issues that cannot realistically be resolved within that timeframe. More news HERE.

Some of her remarks are below:

I am conscious that expectations are high and shall do my utmost to move us forward. However, this is a membership driven organization so I cannot do it without you, I cannot do it without the cooperation of staff and management. What we are involved in is a tripartite partnership. Each partner has to play its part if we are to get results. High expectations of my leadership also means that I have high expectations of you to help me deliver.

It cannot be business as usual.

I have said it. It cannot be business as usual. We have to change our approach from debate and rounds of questions to delivering results. Excellencies, many of you put in long hours and a great deal of effort to do good work much of which goes unnoticed. There are excellent people in the capitals doing good work. We have talented staff in the Secretariat. But the world is no longer cognizant of this, does not recognize the effort because we are not delivering results at the pace required by our fast-changing environment. Last week at the TNC, several Ambassadors said that You Excellencies talk past each other. You don’t talk to each other. This approach has to change. We have to be more accountable to the people we came here to serve — the ordinary women and men, our children who hope that our work here to support the MTS, will result in meaningful change in their lives, will improve their standard of living, and create decent jobs for those who seek work, DG Okonjo-Iweala said.

Source/ Image Credit: WTO