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Kenya’s Amina Mohamed for WTO top job

Achieving Woman - By Derrick Oluoch | July 10th 2020 at 03:00:00 GMT +0300
Ambassador Amina Mohamed (Courtesy)

Kenya submitted the candidature of Sports and Culture Cabinet Secretary Ambassador Amina Mohamed to the World Trade Organization (WTO) for the post of Director General, a position that eluded her seven years ago.

Ambassador Amina Mohamed, 58, will need to see off seven other contestants including two Africans to replace Brazil’s Robert Azevêdo whom she had contested against in 2013 but lost out on a decision made by consensus among member states. Mr Azevêdo, 62, will be stepping down one year early at the end of August this year.

WTO announced on its website that Ambassador Amina Mohamed and the other candidates will be meeting with the General Council to make pitches and respond to questions from July 15th to 17th.

The WTO Director-General is appointed through consensus, as thus Ms Mohamed’s candidature will entail thorough diplomatic pitching ahead of the big decision on August 31st.

Ms Mohamed has said that her interest in the post have been fueled by her experience serving at WTO’ key decision making organs. In 2005, she was the chairperson of the WT General Council – the highest decision making organ of WTO composed of envoys from member states.


Before her tenure as the head of the General Council, Ms Mohamed was helping steer the WTO to adopt the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (Trips). Trips is an international pact that encourages and supports the use of technology in developing countries to come up with useful goods such as generic drugs.

In her bid, Ms Mohamed also points out that she has served as the head of the Dispute Settlement Body and Trade Policy Review Body and that she intends to utilize her skills to make the WTO more responsive to current concerns in international trade. From 2011, she has been serving as the United Nations Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director, UNEP.

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Other than her distinguished diplomatic career;

  • Ms Mohamed boasts of fluency in four international languages: English, Russian, Swahili and French.
  • She is a LLB graduate from University of Kiev and has a post graduate diploma in International Relations from Oxford University.
  • She has received honours including the National Award of Chief of Burning Spear (CBS); Life Member, Red Cross Society; Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity (Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana) also known as Order of chivalry

The Geneva based body was formed in 1995 and is mandated with making guidelines for international trade as well as arbitrating trade disputes.

Ambassador Amina Mohamed stands a better chance to be the first African director-general of WTO if the African nations convene around her even though the continent has never thrown its weight behind a single candidate.

Nonetheless, there is no regional rotation principle at the global trade body and since it was created, three of its director-generals have been from Europe with Oceania, South America and Asia having one each.

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