Director, Information and External Relations Division

World Trade Organization Geneva, Switzerland

About the World Trade Organization

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. The goal is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.
The WTO provides a forum for negotiating agreements aimed at reducing obstacles to international trade and ensuring a level playing field for all, thus contributing to economic growth and development. The WTO also provides a legal and institutional framework for the implementation and monitoring of these agreements, as well as for settling disputes arising from their interpretation and application. The current body of trade agreements comprising the WTO consists of 16 different multilateral agreements (to which all WTO members are parties) and two different plurilateral agreements (to which only some WTO members are parties).
Over the past 60 years, the WTO, which was established in 1995, and its predecessor organization the GATT have helped to create a strong and prosperous international trading system, thereby contributing to unprecedented global economic growth. The WTO currently has 164 members, of which 117 are developing countries or separate customs territories. WTO activities are supported by a Secretariat of some 700 staff, led by the WTO Director-General. The Secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland, and has an annual budget of approximately CHF 200 million ($180 million, €130 million). The three official languages of the WTO are English, French and Spanish.
Decisions in the WTO are generally taken by consensus of the entire membership. The highest institutional body is the Ministerial Conference, which meets roughly every two years. A General Council conducts the organization's business in the intervals between Ministerial Conferences. Both of these bodies comprise all members. Specialised subsidiary bodies (Councils, Committees, Sub-committees), also comprising all members, administer and monitor the implementation by members of the various WTO agreements.
More specifically, the WTO's main activities are:
  • Negotiating the reduction or elimination of obstacles to trade (import tariffs, other barriers to trade) and agreeing on rules governing the conduct of international trade (e.g. antidumping, subsidies, product standards, etc.)
  • Administering and monitoring the application of the WTO's agreed rules for trade in goods, trade in services, and trade-related intellectual property rights
  • Monitoring and reviewing the trade policies of our members, as well as ensuring transparency of regional and bilateral trade agreements
  • Settling disputes among our members regarding the interpretation and application of the agreements
  • Building capacity of developing country government officials in international trade matters
  • Assisting the process of accession of some 30 countries who are not yet members of the organization
  • Conducting economic research and collecting and disseminating trade data in support of the WTO's other main activities
  • Explaining to and educating the public about the WTO, its mission and its activities.
The WTO's founding and guiding principles remain the pursuit of open borders, the guarantee of most-favoured-nation principle and non-discriminatory treatment by and among members, and a commitment to transparency in the conduct of its activities. The opening of national markets to international trade, with justifiable exceptions or with adequate flexibilities, will encourage and contribute to sustainable development, raise people's welfare, reduce poverty, and foster peace and stability. At the same time, such market opening must be accompanied by sound domestic and international policies that contribute to economic growth and development according to each member's needs and aspirations.

Role Purpose

The Information and External Relations Division (IERD) works to proactively engage with the media and other stakeholders to explain and deepen understanding of the WTO's work, position the WTO in the intellectual/policy debate of important trade issues, and promote understanding of the role of trade. It creates stories and content over multiple platforms, engaging different groups of audiences, elaborating on the WTO's work, and developing close relationships with stakeholders. This is made available through the WTO web site, social media channels, an extensive publications programme and regular briefings aimed at specific audiences, such as journalists, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), parliamentarians and the academic community. The division organizes an annual Public Forum, which is the major opportunity for governments, NGOs, academics, businesses and students to come together to discuss issues regarding the multilateral trading system. The division works closely with counterparts in other international governmental organizations and regional bodies, such as the United Nations and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It is also responsible for official relations with WTO members, including protocol matters, in close liaison with the Office of the Director-General.
With approximately 30 staff, the division structure is composed of 5 sections: the Press and Information Section, the External Relations Section, the Audio-Visual and Social Media Section, the Operations, Internet and Intranet Section, and the Editorial, Internet and Publications Section.
The WTO Secretariat is going through a structural review and transformation process, where the incumbent will be part of the group of Directors forming the Transformation Advisory Committee. The structural review may lead to adjustments to the Secretariat structure so that the organization is more fit-for-purpose and works efficiently including across divisions. The incumbent will follow closely and provide expertise and advice on these processes, and ensure follow-through on implementation of new initiatives or adjustments where needed.


Duties and Responsibilities

Reporting to the Office of the Director-General, the incumbent will be accountable for the following:
  1. Lead the development and implementation of the overall communication strategy. Provide strategic leadership and managerial support to the Director-General; inform and advise the Director General on all issues relating to public affairs, communications and the public image of the WTO.
  2. Create and build on opportunities from emerging communication and public affairs trends and challenges for the WTO; propose innovative ways to communicate the WTO's stories and shape the narrative to enhance the WTO's position; develop networks of "influencers" to enhance the WTO's visibility in international fora.
  3. Ensure the production of high-impact communication material and dissemination of WTO content that is current and relevant; keep abreast of new technologies and developments in social media and other communication outlets and use them to optimize WTO's presence.
  4. Adopt a proactive approach to media relations, including on how WTO senior management and division staff members engage with the media. Be the lead spokesperson representing the Director-General and the WTO Secretariat in the public arena.
  5. Lead the Division and motivate the staff, providing guidance to staff in carrying out their duties. Set out the accountabilities and performance objectives for her/his immediate subordinates, assess their performance and implement any changes required. Build the divisional team, developing the potential of the team members, ensuring they are trained as required and providing leadership by setting standards.
  6. Manage communications within the WTO Secretariat to ensure that the staff are well informed on key issues and that consistent messages are communicated to the outside world
  7. Lead the preparation of the public affairs aspects of the annual Ministerial Conference, the WTO’s Public Forum and other high-profile events.
  8. Build and maintain collaborative working relationships with other international organizations and fora.

Education, Qualifications & Experience

An advanced university degree in journalism, communication, public relations, business or a relevant discipline is required. Alternatively, a university degree in the aforementioned areas combined with extensive relevant work experience could be considered in lieu of an advanced university degree.

Knowledge and Skills:
Technical Knowledge and Skills:
The WTO is looking for a dynamic individual who is highly competent, with strong communication skills, strong base in the media, and extensive management experience. The successful candidate must demonstrate an ability to quickly assimilate the knowledge of the WTO system and of legal and economic issues relevant to the work of the WTO. S/he must have an excellent knowledge of the goals and objectives of the WTO, including on relevant economic and legal issues. S/he must also possess an expert level of drafting skills in English. Highly developed communication skills, extensive contacts with the media and familiarity with a range of media tools including social media is required.
The Director of the Information and External Relations Division must have the skills to guide, empower and motivate a multidisciplinary team to excel in their jobs. S/he must be able to build a team culture that consistently delivers high-quality results. Excellent demonstrated management and organizational skills (planning and organizing work, managing people and performance, managing resources) are essential.
S/he must have good presentation skills to communicate with the WTO Members, other international organizations and various stakeholders.
Behavioural Skills:
The successful candidate must demonstrate the ability to interact and work with others in a diverse multicultural international setting in a harmonious and effective way; good communication skills; high level of political awareness and sensitivity; intellectual flexibility including openness to other's views and ability to find solutions; and good political judgement.
High ethical standards and the ability to ensure adherence by others to established rules of conduct are also required.
Work Experience:
Minimum fifteen years’ experience holding senior positions in communications, journalism, stakeholder partnerships or public relations in government, international organisations or in the private sector. Proven leadership and management experience, including managing multicultural teams.
Proficiency (speaking and writing) in English and French or Spanish is required. Adequate skills in the other working language of the WTO would be an advantage.

Terms of Appointment

The Secretariat of the WTO is seeking to fill a position of Director in the Information and External Relations Division. This is a fixed-term contract funded through the regular budget. The duration will be two years with the possibility of extension. The selected candidate is expected to start the assignment as soon as possible upon appointment.
Role Location: Geneva, Switzerland

How to Apply 

If you wish to be considered for this position, please send the most recent English version of your CV to [email protected].
All information will be treated in the strictest confidence as we pride ourselves on our professional service.

SRI Executive is exclusively retained by WTO to undertake this assignment.