Opening of a permanent mission to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva
States can establish separate permanent missions or representations in Geneva to :
- The United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) and other organisations in Geneva or Switzerland, and/or
- The World Trade Organization (WTO),
- The Conference on Disarmament (CD).
A member of the WTO may, if it wishes, establish a separate mission/delegation to the WTO, with the agreement of the latter, without necessarily opening a permanent mission/delegation to the UNOG.
Members of the WTO may also follow the work of the Organisation through their permanent mission/delegation to the UNOG (and other international organisations). As long as a State enjoys an observer’s status to the WTO, it cannot open a separate permanent mission to the WTO. The same rule applies to international organisations based abroad which enjoy an observer’s status to the WTO.
Procedure: with regard to the WTO
In accordance with standard diplomatic practice, the competent authorities accrediting informs the Director-General of the WTO of its intention to establish a permanent mission/delegation in Geneva. The WTO will then inform the Host Country through the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations Office and other international organisations in Geneva (Swiss Mission to the UNOG).
Procedure: with regard to Switzerland
In accordance with standard diplomatic practice, the competent accrediting authorities also informs the Swiss Government, in writing, of its intention to establish a permanent mission/delegation at Geneva. If the competent accrediting authorities already has a permanent mission/delegation at Geneva, the permanent mission/delegation should inform the Swiss Mission to the UNOG.
The credentials of permanent representatives come either from the Head of State or Government, from the Foreign Affairs Minister or from the Minister in charge of WTO issues, and are addressed to the Director-General of the WTO, according to the procedure foreseen by the latter.
When a permanent representative takes office and presents its credentials to the Director-General of the WTO, the latter informs the Swiss Mission.
The same authorities entitled to accept the credentials of a permanent representative are also responsible for its possible revocation.
Nature and status of a permanent mission to the WTO
The purpose of opening a permanent mission/delegation to the WTO is to maintain permanent relations with the WTO.
The two Swiss Missions are the diplomatic channels for the permanent missions/delegations, whose diplomatic contacts with the Swiss authorities must pass exclusively through this channel. The Swiss Mission to the UNOG has competence for issues regarding the status of permanent missions/delegations and their staff, whereas the Swiss Mission to the WTO and EFTA has competence for issues regarding Switzerland’s policies towards the WTO.
Status of a permanent mission to the WTO
The status of permanent mission/delegation to the WTO and members of their staff is defined by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 18 April 1961, applied by analogy, and by relevant sections of the Headquarters’ agreement between the Swiss Federal Council and the WTO.
It is customary for the new permanent representative to inform other permanent representatives to the WTO, through individual letters, that its credentials were presented to the Director-General of the WTO.
In view of the large number of diplomatic representations established in Geneva, the courtesy calls that the permanent representatives may choose to make on arrival to the permanent representatives of other countries on arrival is left to their own discretion.
It is nonetheless customary to pay courtesy calls to the following:
- The Permanent representative of Switzerland to the UNOG, in his capacity of representative of the Host Country.
- The Permanent representative of Switzerland to the WTO.
Both the authorities of the Republic and canton of Geneva and the authorities of the City of Geneva are pleased to receive courtesy calls from newly arrived permanent representatives. However, such calls are left entirely to the discretion of the new permanent representatives.
Termination of tour of duty of permanent representatives
It is also customary for permanent representatives leaving their position to pay a farewell call to the Director-General of the WTO.
They normally inform the other permanent representatives of their departure in writing.
The permanent missions/delegations are expected to inform the WTO and the Swiss Mission to the UNOG of the departure of the Permanent representative by means of a verbal note.
For further information:
World Trade Organization (WTO)