Director-General Roberto Azevêdo Inaugurates WTO’s First Young Professionals Program
STUDENTS AND YOUNG PROFESSIONALS
Director-General Roberto Azevêdo welcomed the first cohort of young professionals at an inauguration ceremony of the WTO Young Professionals Program on 6 March.
The WTO Young Professionals Program was launched in 2016 with the aim of enhancing the knowledge and skills on WTO issues of young professionals from developing and least developed countries — especially from WTO members that are not currently represented at the professional level in the WTO Secretariat.
“By allowing these young professionals to get to know our work and to contribute to our activities, this Program can help to widen the pool of qualified applicants for future recruitment exercises at the WTO, and elsewhere,” said DG Azevêdo. “I think this is an important step to help increase diversity and broaden representation of the membership in the Secretariat.”
DG Azevêdo encouraged the young professionals to develop their knowledge, skills and experience during the 12-month placement at the WTO, and to help spread the knowledge of the WTO back home. “You can be the ambassadors of the WTO, and encourage others who are interested in the Organization to come here”, he told the young professionals.
Leticia Caminero, a young professional from the Dominican Republic, shared her impression of the program: “It has been amazing to experience the international spectrum of intellectual property policies, to learn about the WTO Secretariat’s work and how countries come together and try to better the system.”
Leticia is currently working in the Intellectual Property, Government Procurement and Competition Division. Before joining the Young Professionals Programme, Leticia ran a law firm in the Dominican Republic advising artists and movie producers on intellectual property rights. She said that the last month had been remarkable, as she personally witnessed the entry into force of the TRIPS amendment to ease access to affordable medicines.
Fernando Bertran, another young professional from Chile, said he would like to help raise awareness about WTO issues back home. “Coming from the private sector in Latin America, people around me are not fully aware of what the WTO does, and it is a real privilege to witness first hand things of such importance, to which we normally would not have access.” Fernando is currently working in the Legal Affairs Division of the WTO Secretariat. Before, he worked in a private law firm in Chile.
The first cohort of five young professionals has been selected from a total of 848 candidates after a competitive, merit-based selection process. They started working in the WTO in early 2017 and will spend one year in the WTO Secretariat to learn about the WTO’s work and to contribute to its activities.
[Source: UN World Trade Organization-Media Relations]
About: The World Trade Organization
The World Trade Organization (WTO) deals with the global rules of trade between nations. Its main function is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.
The WTO was born out of negotiations, and everything the WTO does is the result of negotiations. The bulk of the WTO’s current work comes from the 1986–94 negotiations called the Uruguay Round and earlier negotiations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The WTO is currently the host to new negotiations, under the ‘Doha Development Agenda’ launched in 2001.
Where countries have faced trade barriers and wanted them lowered, the negotiations have helped to open markets for trade. But the WTO is not just about opening markets, and in some circumstances its rules support maintaining trade barriers — for example, to protect consumers or prevent the spread of disease.
At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations. These documents provide the legal ground rules for international commerce. They are essentially contracts, binding governments to keep their trade policies within agreed limits. Although negotiated and signed by governments, the goal is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business, while allowing governments to meet social and environmental objectives.
The system’s overriding purpose is to help trade flow as freely as possible — so long as there are no undesirable side effects — because this is important for economic development and well-being. That partly means removing obstacles. It also means ensuring that individuals, companies and governments know what the trade rules are around the world, and giving them the confidence that there will be no sudden changes of policy. In other words, the rules have to be ‘transparent’ and predictable.
Trade relations often involve conflicting interests. Agreements, including those painstakingly negotiated in the WTO system, often need interpreting. The most harmonious way to settle these differences is through some neutral procedure based on an agreed legal foundation. That is the purpose behind the dispute settlement process written into the WTO agreements.
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