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Monday, March 25, 2013

Kenya Wants Amina Mohammed to Head WTO

By Wambui Ndonga

The Kenya government is now pushing for the appointment of former Justice Permanent Secretary Amina Mohammed as the Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Through a statement sent by Foreign Affairs Communication Officer Anthony Munyao, the government said that Mohammed was an accomplished diplomat with impressive credentials and a wide experience in multilateral diplomacy.

Munyao noted that the international body had never been headed by an African or a woman and time had therefore come to change the trend. He added that Mohammed fits both categories perfectly because she was well known in international circles and was an experienced negotiator.

"It is noteworthy that neither the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs nor WTO has ever been headed by an African nor by a woman and for this reason, Amb. Mohamed stands a strong chance of being the first ever in both respects," the statement from the ministry said.

Mohammed, who currently works as the Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of UNEP, promised to set out a clear and focused vision of priorities for the WTO, if Members agreed to elect her as the Director-General.

She is a law graduate from the University of Kiev in Ukraine and the Kenya School of Law. Her work covers 26 years including a broad spectrum of domestic and international assignments.

She rose through the ranks in Kenya's Diplomatic Service from a legal advisor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the highest level of Ambassador/Permanent Representative at the Kenyan Mission to the United Nations in Geneva.

Mohammed also chaired the General Council of the WTO in 2005, and presided over the selection process of the incumbent (Pascal Lamy) for his first term.

"My vision of the Organisation shall revolve around the imperative of an updated agenda for trade negotiations which is relevant to contemporary challenges in the global economy and the expansion of stakeholders to ensure the relevance of WTO," she said.

Though the position of Director-General of the WTO is not an elective post, international politics and engagement with WTO member states greatly influences the outcome of the process. In January 2013, Mohamed and eight other candidates vying for the position made their presentations before the General Council of the WTO.

"The other candidates are Roberto Carvalho de Azevedo from Brazil, Anabel Gonzalez from Costa Rica, John Kwadwo Kyerematen from Ghana, Mari Pangestu from Indonesia, Ahmad Hindawi from Jordan, Herminio Blanco from Mexico, Tim Groser from New Zealand and Taeho Bark from South Korea," noted Munyao.

Also read: Amina Mohammed Profile

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