The Turn Around Agenda
After civil society and activists from around the world scored the fantastic victory in Seattle against the World Trade Organization (WTO) last year, the question we have all been asked is "where do we go from here?" How do we continue to build on and expand the momentum that we enjoy, and how do we broaden the movement and bring more people and organizations into it?
Last year we rallied under the slogan "No New Round - Turn Around." The international sign-on letter demanding a moratorium on further trade and investment negotiations through the WTO had more than 1500 groups signed on to it by the time of the Ministerial.
People representing a variety of country-based campaigns worldwide came together in March to strategize and discuss next steps. Like everyone, we were eager to find a way to discuss "next steps" with international allies. When we heard that several of the activists highly involved over the past three years in the campaigns against the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) and WTO -- from India, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Chile, Europe -- were coming to the US for several other overlapping meetings, we reached out to colleagues from other countries -- Philippines, Cameroon, Ghana, France, Ecuador, Japan, New Zealand -- which were active in these past campaigns but would otherwise not be in the U.S. at that time.
At this strategy meeting, a consensus document -- inspired by the success of the "No New Round, Turnaround" letter -- was created with the goal of launching a new international NGO campaign. The document, attached & included in the body of the e-mail, is called: "WTO - Shrink or Sink! The Turn Around Agenda."
As with last year's successful international campaign, the "WTO - Shrink or Sink!" campaign aims to incorporate the approaches and issues of a variety of organizations and networks. It offers a fundamental critique of the WTO and the system of corporate managed trade that we are currently living under, and sets forth a set of demands on our governments to roll-back the power and authority of the WTO.
The idea is to pass this statement around and build up an even larger and more diverse list of signatories than previous statements. With thanks to Friends of the Earth International for taking on this function last time, Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch has agreed (at least for now) to take responsibility for collecting the names of the groups who sign on. Some of the groups that helped draft the statement have already signed it, and we are hoping for many many more! All we are doing is keeping track of the names, so it is on everyone who gets this email to spread it around and find groups to sign on.
We should set an international Day of Action (for later this spring/summer) to launch the campaign with press events, teach-ins, demonstrations, etc. in cities and capitals around the world, similar to the September 15, 1999 Days of Action on the WTO around the world.
Here are the details for how an organization can sign the letter:
1) This is an organizational sign-on letter only. We will not be adding individuals to it.
will be sending out regular updates with the signatories.
Please circulate this amongst your colleagues and networks.
The Turn Around Agenda
It's time to turn trade around. In November 1999, the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Third Ministerial Meeting in Seattle collapsed in spectacular fashion, in the face of unprecedented protest from people and governments around the world. We believe it is essential to use this moment as an opportunity to change course and develop an alternative, humane, democratically accountable and sustainable system of commerce that benefits all. This process entails rolling back the power and authority of the WTO.
The GATT Uruguay Round Agreements and the establishment of the WTO were proclaimed as a means of enhancing the creation of global wealth and prosperity and promoting the well-being of all people in all member states. In reality, however, The WTO has contributed to the concentration of wealth in the hands of the rich few; increasing poverty for the majority of the world's peoples, especially in third world countries; and unsustainable patterns of production and consumption.
The WTO and GATT Uruguay Round Agreements have functioned principally to pry open markets for the benefit of transnational corporations at the expense of national and local economies; workers, farmers, indigenous peoples, women and other social groups; health and safety; the environment; and animal welfare. In addition, the WTO system, rules and procedures are undemocratic, un-transparent and non-accountable and have operated to marginalize the majority of the world's people.
All this has taken place in the context of increasing global instability, the collapse of national economies, growing inequity both between and within nations and increasing environmental and social degradation, as a result of the acceleration of the process of corporate globalization.
The governments which dominate the WTO, especially the United States, the European Union, Japan and Canada, and the transnational corporations which have benefitted from the WTO system have refused to recognize and address these problems. They are still intent on further liberalization, including through the expansion of the WTO, promoting free trade as a goal in itself. In reality, however, free trade is anything but "free".
The time has come to acknowledge the crises of the international trading system and its main administering institution, the WTO. We need to replace this old, unfair and oppressive trade system with a new, socially just and sustainable trading framework for the 21st Century.
We need to protect cultural, biological, economic and social diversity; introduce progressive policies to prioritize local economies and trade; secure internationally recognized economic, cultural, social and labor rights; and reclaim the sovereignty of peoples and national and sub-national democratic decision-making processes. In order to do this, we need new rules based on the principles of democratic control of resources, ecological sustainability, equity, cooperation and precaution.
In light of the above, we make the following demands of our governments:
No WTO expansion
A socially just international trade system will also require change outside the WTO.
Given the attacks by multinational corporations and governments on basic workers rights; the reversal of the gains of workers' struggles; the undermining of job security; and the race-to-the-bottom in wages, workers rights must be strengthened worldwide.
Also, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the regional development banks must write off 100% of the debts owed to them by poor countries. The use of structural adjustment conditionality to force trade liberalization in third world countries and elsewhere must be stopped. Governments must negotiate, through the UN system and with full democratic participation, a binding agreement to ensure that corporate conduct is socially and environmentally responsible and democratically accountable.
Conclusions and Consequences
We are committed to a sustainable, socially just and democratically accountable trade system. Thus, as a first step, we demand that our governments implement the changes listed in this document in order to roll back the power and authority of the WTO and turn trade around.
We commit ourselves to mobilize people within our countries to fight for these demands and to defy the unjust policies of the WTO. We will also support other people and countries who do so with international solidarity campaigns.
We pledge to carry the Spirit of Seattle around the world.
Australia, Friends of the Earth
Margrete Strand Rangnes, Senior Organizer, Public Citizen Global Trade Watch, 215 Pennsylvania Ave, SE, Washington DC, 20003 USA, firstname.lastname@example.org, + 202-454-5106, + 202-547 7392 (fax)
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