May 21, 1991


GENEVA, 16 MAY (BY CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN) – The GATT Director-General Arthur Dunkel appears to be on a collision course with Third World countries, particularly the Latin American group of countries, over his reported decision not to appoint a successor to the Deputy Director-General M. G. Mathur who retires in July.

The GATT secretariat has now two Deputy Directors-general and one of the posts is traditionally held by a national from a Third World country. The other post is held by an U.S. national.

Under arrangements evolved three years ago, the Director-General is to recommend the candidate to be appointed and undertake consultations three months prior to the date.

Mathur, an Indian national and the senior-most Dy. Director-General is among the group of secretariat officials who decided last year to exercise their option and retire to take advantage of the more favourable dollar/Swiss franc conversion rates of the U.N. system for pension benefits.

Dunkel told the GATT Council last April that he would be undertaking consultations over the appointment of a successor.

The Colombian government has sponsored the name of its GATT delegate, Amb. Felipe Jaramillo for the post and he has received also the general support of the Latin Americans.

Dunkel who appears to have had other candidates in mind, reportedly has told the Latin American group that he does not plan to fill up the post of the deputy Director-General vacated by Mathur, giving as argument that he does not want to tie the hands of his successor nor tie his own hands during the crucial negotiations of the Uruguay Round.

This itself in effect would mean that the Third World would be denied a high level representation within the secretariat and several Third World delegates have privately objected to this move, arguing that this was not a matter of internal secretariat reorganisation and a prerogative of the Director-General.

But even more than his reported refusal to choose a successor to Mathur, Dunkel’s purported plans to create instead two new posts of Assistant Directors-General and name two candidates for the job have aroused charges of "cronyism" from some of the delegates.

According to reports, while consulting delegates as he is required on the issue of Deputy Director-General (and advising them of his decision not to appoint), Dunkel in passing has told them that in order to strengthen his own hands he would be appointing two Assistant Director-General’s with D-2 rank – the status up to which appointments are his prerogative.

He has reportedly indicated that the two A.D.Gs would be his special assistant (Director to the Director-General) Mr. Arif Hussein (an Indian national) and Keith Broadbridge, the GATT Representative of Hong Kong. According to reports, Dunkel will make the formal announcements this week.

Several Third World sources said the overall effect would be to bring Dunkel on a collision course with Latin Americans as a group at a crucial juncture for the re-started Uruguay Round negotiations, besides creating some additional demoralisation inside the GATT Secretariat.