Sunday, 18 December 2011

Bureaucrats don’t like to bury their dead - WTO and Kyoto

"The world of diplomacy is full of zombie negotiations and institutions — dead but still mindlessly on the move". Mead points to the unheralded WTO talks (the Doha Round) and comments, "Bureaucracies and the negotiating processes don’t stop moving forward (too many jobs and careers are at stake, too many institutions have a stake in the process for it to stop), but people ... gradually stop paying attention.       This seems to be the trajectory down which the climate negotiations are also proceeding.

"Greens have historically hated the WTO, seeing it as an organization that prioritizes growth over sustainability and that limits the ability of countries to restrict imports of everything from Canadian oil sands petroleum to genetically modified food.  But greens have much to learn from the Doha Round.  If the nations of the world can’t agree on a complex, universal trade package aimed at accelerating growth and raising incomes, how likely are they to agree on an even more complex and difficult agreement that will slow growth down and distribute losses rather than allocate gains?

Caveat:  There was some low-hanging fruit picked early on and in WTO's case, a dispute mechanism remains useful. His sub-text is that there are too many parties at the table.    Walter Russell Mead has a talent for taking informed moderate positions and making them sound original.

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