Kenya nominates Amina Mohamed for top UN job in Geneva
NAIROBI, Kenya - Amina Mohamed, Kenya's minister for Youth, Sports, and Culture, has been nominated for World Trade Organization [WTO] Director-General post, a move which would see her wrestle with others on August this year.
The career diplomat who was recently admitted to the bar in Kenya, becoming an advocate of the High Court, would face five others, including two from Africa, for the seat which she almost clinched in 2013.
Through its website, the United Nations' trade body announced Ms. Mohamed's candidature, adding that the government of Kenya submitted her name in early July. She's fighting to replace Roberto Azevedo from Brazil, who is taking early retirement, WTO said.
All eight are expected to present themselves to the general council of ambassadors next week before an unspecified period of campaigning. A "troika" of ambassadors will canvas opinion in the hope the members can unite around one name.
"It's like electing a pope. It's a consensus process," said Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, director of trade think tank ECIPE. The director-general of the WTO is appointed through consensus, meaning candidates will have to do lots of horse-trading ahead of the decision on August 31.
In 2013, Ms. Mohamed contested against Azevedo but lost when WTO settled the race on consensus. In 2016, Ms. Mohamed was also fronted by Kenya for African Union Commission chairperson to replace Dlamini Zuma.
However, despite the spirited campaign by Kenya, Ms. Mohamed lost to Moussa Faki of Chad. The AU campaign was one of the contests which Kenya invested heavily at the global stage after the recent UNSC battle, which saw Nairobi cruise past Djibouti.
The WTO, formed in 1995 is a rule-making body that guides international trade and tries to resolves disputes. It is based in Geneva, Switzerland, and decisions on cases brought before it are often final, even though it is not a UN organization.
Other former Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Egyptian commercial law academic Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh, Mr. Jesús Seade Kuri of Mexico, Moldova’s Tudor Ulianovschi and Ms. Yoo Myung-hee of South Korea.
Ms. Mohamed has said in the past she wants to be the director-general of the WTO because she already served on the body’s key decision making organs. In 2005, she was Chairperson of the General Council, the highest-level decision making organ of the WTO and composed of envoys from member states.
She said before that she helped steer the WTO to adopt the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights [Trips], an international pact that helps poorer nations use technology from richer countries to make useful items like generic drugs, without harming their intellectual property owners.
She also served as head of the Dispute Settlement Body and Trade Policy Review Body. She has argued in the bid submitted to the WTO that she will use her skills in “strategic leadership and effective communication” to make the WTO more responsive to current concerns in international trade.
In 2013, Mohamed was appointed as Foreign Affairs minister by President Uhuru Kenyatta, a post she helps until 2016 where she was switched to education docket. In 2018, she bounced back to cabinet as Youth and Sports minister.
But it's during her tenure in the Foreign Affairs that most Kenyans remember her for. She led the offensive against the International Criminal Court [ICC] where President Uhuru and his deputy William Ruto were facing crimes against humanity charges. The cases were dropped in 2016 for "lack of evidence".
Should she win the post, Amina will be tasked to lead efforts to revive economies across the globe which have been devastated by the current Coronavirus pandemic. The tragedy led to the closure of many income-generating activities among them international flights.
"The WTO is not an organization that is really flourishing," Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in May as quoted by Reuters. "It is not a job where you can really score."