An analysis of the WTO communication
Habermas has defined the relationship between public sphere and public opinion as “network for communicating information and points of view . . . the streams of communication are, in the process, filtered and synthesized in such a way that they coalesce into bundles of topically specified public opinions.” The report, based on Habermas’s theory of public sphere and public opinion, and with the Doha Round of trade talks as a case study, provides an analysis on the communication strategy of the World Trade Organization (WTO), including the target, content, form of the WTO communication, then summarizes the main characteristics of the communication, symmetrical but lack of democracy and transparency. Some recommendations are given at the end of the report for the creation of a more effective communication of the WTO.
The World Trade Organization (WTO), as a global organization for the supervision and liberalization of trade in goods and services, and a permanent forum for the negotiation of trade agreements and for the settlement of trade disputes, has always played a significant and irreplaceable role in the global governance. As Pascal Lamy defines, the global governance is ‘the system assisting human society to achieve common objectives in a sustainable manner’ (2010:11). According to the theory of Habermas in his book, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, such common objectives are crucial in a public sphere, where “private persons” assembled to discuss matters of “public concern” or “common interest” through a specific kind of discursive interaction to reach the consensus (Nancy Fraser, 1992:58). In this sense, the WTO can be described as a transnational public sphere, with member states with different languages, cultures and rules in a ‘more multilayered and differentiated social space’ (Bohman,1998:210), where more effective communication is required to accomplish its mandate to a maximum degree. This report aims to research the WTO from an organizational communication perspective, analyze the communication strategies it employs in presenting itself to international stakeholder publics, and then provide some recommendations based on my analysis.
2. Target of the WTO communication
Before we discuss the target of the WTO in dissemination of messages and information, it is necessary to have an insight into the various stakeholders of the WTO. They are listed as follows:
* member nations and observer nations that include developed countries, developing countries and less developed countries * economic organizations of groups such as APEC, G20, BRICS etc. * the two international financial organizations: the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank * multinational corporations such as Apple, BP, HSBC etc. * non-Governmental Organizations aiming at environmental protection, observance of human rights, improvement of the welfare of the disadvantaged etc. * media that plays a crucial role in the WTO’s dissemination of information.
The WTO, as the bridge of communication and the mediator in the dispute between these stakeholders, has the responsibility to guarantee that the information arrives precisely and effectively at the corresponding receivers，which are the interested parties of a particular event in the affairs of the WTO.
3. Content of the WTO communication
To analyze the content of the WTO communication, we have to first understand what does the WTO do. The WTO website (2012) contains the main activities of the WTO:
* Trade negotiations
* Implementation and monitoring
* Dispute settlement
* Building trade capacity
We can conclude that the WTO communication aims at assisting the WTO in fulfilling these missions, ensuring that ‘negotiations progress smoothly, and that the rules of international trade are correctly applied and enforced’ (WTO, 2012).
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