The WTO Secretariat is based in Geneva, with around 600 staff members under a director-general. The main functions of the Secretariat include technical support for the WTO councils and other bodies, technical assistance for developing countries, world trade analysis, and liaison between the WTO and the public and media. The Secretariat can also provide legal assistance for dispute settlements, and advice to governments applying for membership in the WTO.
The World Bank
The World Bank was created during World War II at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. Its initial function was to help in the rebuilding process after the War, with its first loan to France in the amount of $250 million. Post-war reconstruction efforts were followed by aid efforts for events such as natural disasters, humanitarian emergencies, and post-conflict rehabilitation. While these continue to be a prominent part of the World Bank's function, its main effort today focuses on poverty reduction.
After some inquiries relating to the quality of the Bank's operations during the 1980s, the Wapenhaus Report resulted in reforms such as an Inspection Panel. The function of the Panel is to investigate claims against the Bank. The Bank Group has also worked to improve efficiency and effectiveness, and to improve service, commitment, delivery and quality.
Structurally, the Bank's staff of engineers and financial analysts were based in Washington, D.C. Its staff today has diversified to include economists, public policy experts, sectoral experts, and social scientists, of which 40% are based in offices around the country. The Bank itself has also expanded to a much more complex structure than its initial form. The World Bank now consists of a Group of five development institutions. These include the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).
Currently, the most important role of the World Bank is in the area of global policy, including post-conflict work, post-crisis assistance, post-hurricane clean-up and post-earthquake support to various regions around the world. In addition, the Bank is continually concerned with updating its policy to meet the demands and challenges of development today.
4. Economic Growth, Development and Third-World Countries
Economic growth is measured by the gross national product (GNP) of a country. If this rises, it means that a country's per capita income is growing, and economic growth takes place. There are a variety of factors that influence economic growth. Political factors may for example influence economic growth favorably or unfavorably. If a country is politically unstable, for example, the country's relationship with other countries is influenced detrimentally, and it is unlikely that the economy will grow positively. The most recent example of this is Iraq and the associated American war on terrorism.
Other factors that influence economic growth is a country's assets and its existing poverty level. A high poverty level tends to perpetuate the already existing poverty, and economic growth does not take place. Assets such as minerals and agriculture influence foreign investment in the country. A high percentage of these will also be a factor in the country's economic growth.
Economic development is a wider concept than economic growth. This is measured by a variety of factors within a country that relates to human well-being in terms of wealth as well as health. Literacy rates, life expectancy, birth and death rates, unemployment statistics and poverty levels are some of the measures used to determine the level of economic development in an economy. High rates of literacy and employment would for example indicate a high level of economic development. In third-world countries, literacy and employment rates are generally low, whereas birth and death rates are high, as is the poverty level. This indicates a low level of economic development.
The most significant difference between third-world and industrialized countries is economic: Industrialized countries have a higher GDP than third-world countries. The birth and death rates in industrialized countries also tend to be lower than those in third-world countries. Another significant factor is that elements influenced and perpetuated by poverty. One such element is the ecological well-being of a country's agricultural and natural heritage sites. Industrialized countries have the expertise and funding to care for natural habitats, fauna and flora. In third-world countries, the nutritional needs of growing populations often force farmers to exhaust vast areas of land, causing further degradation, hunger and poverty.
In this way, the need created by poverty in the first place, perpetuates the cycle of poverty and hunger. In industrialized countries, existing resources are poured into conservation and sustainable growth, which in turn facilitates economic growth and development. For this reason, efforts are made by developed countries to assist third-world countries in breaking the devastating cycle of poverty and uplift themselves to achieve sustainable growth.
The International Monetary Fund. Globalization: Threat or Opportunity? 2007. http://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/ib/2000/041200.htm
The World Bank Group. World Bank History. 2007. http://go.worldbank.org/2GIYUD9KB0
World Trade Organization. The WTO in Brief. 2007. http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/whatis_e/inbrief_e/inbr00_e.htm