Document Type


Publication Date

February 2004


This article is intended to contribute to the process of diagnosis and prescription in response to the fiasco of the Fifth WTO Ministerial Conference in Cancún, Mexico, in September 2003. The article sketches previous WTO Ministerial Conferences in an attempt to glimpse the root of the problems that eventually caused the collapse of the Cancún Conference. It then focuses on the main developments in Cancún and offers a 'post-mortem', not in an attempt to place blame but to better understand what went wrong. It observes that North-South tension is likely to continue for the time being while rich countries, especially the US, will lean toward bilateralism and regionalism. Yet, it also suggests that with a combination of hard work by Member countries, political support from NGOs and businesses, and the Secretariat's constructive role, the Doha Round can and should be saved. The article concludes that the global trading community is now embracing another 'constitutional moment' which parallels the creation of the GATT 1947 and the WTO.