In October, 2003, Focus o­n the Global South, a regional program for policy research, analysis and action, in collaboration with the Poverty and Development Division of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), brought together representatives of 20 non-government and people’s organizations from 13 countries to discuss Goal 1 of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger. The main purpose of this Asia-Pacific Civil Society Forum was to propose recommendations to the Committee o­n Poverty Reduction of the UNESCAP as to how countries of the regions could better achieve the goal.

WTOBy Fatoumata Jawara and Aileen Kwa

Zed Books, London. This immensely important book o­n the politics of the WTO, which takes the lid off how the WTO really works, and what really happened before, at, and after the Fourth WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha in 2001, o­n the basis of interviews with 33 Geneva-based delegates to the WTO and 10 Secretariat staff members.

By Aileen Kwa
The World Trade Organization (WTO) has often been portrayed as the pinnacle of the multilateral system of global economic governance.
Why it has achieved this reputation is puzzling since it is one of the most undemocratic organizations around. Formally speaking, the WTO is a one-country, one-vote system. Yet actual decision-making is done by a process called “consensus,” in which the big trading powers impose a consensus arrived at among  themselves on the rest of the body. In the WTO, formal parliamentary sessions where decisions are made in democratic institutions are reserved for speechmaking.
Real decisions are made in backrooms by informal caucuses whose members are not determined by formal rules and votes but by informal agreement among significant players.