chapter  4
13 Pages

Expertise and political competence: consensus making within the World Trade Organization and the World Meteorological Organization YVES SCHEMEIL

Consensus making within the World Trade Organization and the World Meteorological Organization

Trade, weather and climate are specific fields of knowledge entrusted to intergovernmental institutions where experts (academics, advisers, bureaucrats) engage in dialogue with politicians (permanent representatives, ministers, rulers). Expertise and political competence may nevertheless conflict. An established reputation in a scientific and technical field does not entail political vision and solid skills in consensus making, confidence building, bargaining and logrolling. When experts call for urgent policy making, politicians expect scientific matters to be handled at minimum cost. The opacity of the decision-making process gives economists, legal specialists, custom experts (in the World Trade Organization, WTO), or meteorologists, hydrologists, mathematicians and engineers (in the World Meteorological Organization, WMO) an opportunity to prevail over state representatives, who use publicity to frame or reflect the views of the public.