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corporate dominance | economic justice | labor wto cancun actions

Global Day of Action Against the WTO: September 13th Rally and March

Saturday, September 13th, 2003
Rally at 12:00, March at 1:00pm
Holladay Park (NE Multnomah and NE 11th Ave.)
As part of a global day of action during the WTO ministerial in Cancun, Mexico.
For more info: CBLOC (503) 236-7916, JwJ (503) 236-5573
reposting this in an effort to keep it on the main screen (it would be nice if it could be a feature at the top)

As part of a global day of action during the WTO ministerial in Cancun, Mexico. We are calling on our community to come out with us and:

Say no to the WTO and FTAA and all trade deals that attack workers rights, the environment, or democracy
Oppose privatization of essential public services, such as the post office, education, DEQ, health care
Stand in solidarity with the mobilizations against the WTO in Cancun, and elsewhere
Say no to protecting global corporate interests through militarization

It is our responsibility as a concerned community to make our voices heard, to show our strength in numbers and to let our government and international overseeing bodies know that we are prepared to stand up for the basic rights of people, not only in our own community, but across borders. We know from experience that trade agreements only further impoverish countries and peoples already struggling, that they destroy local economies and cause detrimental environmental problems. This march and rally is an opportunity to join together with others around the world as we recognize a global day of action.

For more information, to endorse this event, or to get involved please call the Cross Border Labor Organizing Coalition (CBLOC): 503-236-7916, or Jobs with Justice: 503-236-5573
actually wants to know 12.Sep.2003 13:00

primarily apathetic, but. . . .

So, Searching the net gives little in the way of concrete information, mass media gives no help at all.

Why should I be against the WTO?

I know a very little about subsidies, but how does the workings of the WTO negatively effect the workers of the world. Their website is so vague-they facilitate, communicate, and connect-I have no real clue what they do, and why I should hate or love or not care at all about the WTO.

I'm looking mostly for facts and unbiased analyses.

If you have knowledge please share, if you have documentation, web, snail addresses, or info about upcoming meetings to discuss particularly how the WTO works, definately share!

Too ten,..... well 11 12.Sep.2003 13:19

Unbiased, who's that?

1. The WTO Is Fundamentally Undemocratic
The policies of the WTO impact all aspects of society and the planet, but it is not a democratic, transparent institution. The WTO rules are written by and for corporations with inside access to the negotiations. For example, the US Trade Representative gets heavy input for negotiations from 17 "Industry Sector Advisory Committees." Citizen input by consumer, environmental, human rights and labor organizations is consistently ignored. Even simple requests for information are denied, and the proceedings are held in secret. Who elected this secret global government?

2. The WTO Will Not Make Us Safer

The WTO would like you to believe that creating a world of "free trade" will promote global understanding and peace. On the contrary, the domination of international trade by rich countries for the benefit of their individual interests fuels anger and resentment that make us less safe. To build real global security, we need international agreements that respect people's rights to democracy and trade systems that promote global justice.

3. The WTO Tramples Labor and Human Rights

WTO rules put the "rights" of corporations to profit over human and labor rights. The WTO encourages a 'race to the bottom' in wages by pitting workers against each other rather than promoting internationally recognized labor standards. The WTO has ruled that it is illegal for a government to ban a product based on the way it is produced, such as with child labor. It has also ruled that governments cannot take into account "non commercial values" such as human rights, or the behavior of companies that do business with vicious dictatorships such as Burma when making purchasing decisions.

4. The WTO Would Privatize Essential Services The WTO is seeking to privatize essential public services such as education, health care, energy and water. Privatization means the selling off of public assets - such as radio airwaves or schools - to private (usually foreign) corporations, to run for profit rather than the public good. The WTO's General Agreement on Trade in Services, or GATS, includes a list of about 160 threatened services including elder and child care, sewage, garbage, park maintenance, telecommunications, construction, banking, insurance, transportation, shipping, postal services, and tourism. In some countries, privatization is already occurring. Those least able to pay for vital services - working class communities and communities of color - are the ones who suffer the most.

5. The WTO Is Destroying the Environment

The WTO is being used by corporations to dismantle hard-won local and national environmental protections, which are attacked as "barriers to trade." The very first WTO panel ruled that a provision of the US Clean Air Act, requiring both domestic and foreign producers alike to produce cleaner gasoline, was illegal. The WTO declared illegal a provision of the Endangered Species Act that requires shrimp sold in the US to be caught with an inexpensive device allowing endangered sea turtles to escape. The WTO is attempting to deregulate industries including logging, fishing, water utilities, and energy distribution, which will lead to further exploitation of these natural resources.

6. The WTO is Killing People

The WTO's fierce defense of 'Trade Related Intellectual Property' rights (TRIPs)-patents, copyrights and trademarks-comes at the expense of health and human lives. The organization's support for pharmaceutical companies against governments seeking to protect their people's health has had serious implications for places like sub-Saharan Africa, where 80 percent of the world's new AIDS cases are found. Developing countries won an important victory in 2001 in Doha, Qatar, when the important life-saving mechanisms of parallel importing and compulsory licensing were agreed to, so that countries could provide essential life-saving medicines to their populations less expensively. Unfortunately, these are some of the very provisions the US hopes to renegotiate in the current round of talks.

7. The WTO is Increasing Inequality

Free trade is not working for the majority of the world. During the most recent period of rapid growth in global trade and investment (1960 to 1998) inequality worsened both internationally and within countries. The UN Development Program reports that the richest 20 percent of the world's population consume 86 percent of the world's resources while the poorest 80 percent consume just 14 percent. WTO rules have hastened these trends by opening up countries to foreign investment and thereby making it easier for production to go where the labor is cheapest and most easily exploited and environmental costs are low.

8. The WTO is Increasing Hunger

Farmers produce enough food in the world to feed everyone -- yet because of corporate control of food distribution, as many as 800 million people worldwide suffer from chronic malnutrition. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, food is a human right. In developing countries, as many as four out of every five people make their living from the land. But the leading principle in the WTO's Agreement on Agriculture is that market forces should control agricultural policies-rather than a national commitment to guarantee food security and maintain decent family farmer incomes. WTO policies have allowed dumping of heavily subsidized industrially produced food into poor countries, undermining local production and increasing hunger.

9. The WTO Hurts Poor, Small Countries in Favor of Rich Powerful Nations

The WTO supposedly operates on a consensus basis, with equal decision-making power for all. In reality, many important decisions get made in a process whereby poor countries' negotiators are not even invited to closed door meetings -- and then 'agreements' are announced that poor countries didn't even know were being discussed. Many countries do not even have enough trade personnel to participate in all the negotiations or to even have a permanent representative at the WTO. This severely disadvantages poor countries from representing their interests. Likewise, many countries are too poor to defend themselves from WTO challenges from the rich countries, and change their laws rather than pay for their own defense.

10. The WTO Undermines Local Level Decision-Making and National Sovereignty

The WTO's "most favored nation" provision requires all WTO member countries to treat each other equally and to treat all corporations from these countries equally regardless of their track record. Local policies aimed at rewarding companies who hire local residents, use domestic materials, or adopt environmentally sound practices are essentially illegal under the WTO. Developing countries are prohibited from creating local laws that developed countries once pursued, such as protecting new, domestic industries until they can be internationally competitive. California Governor Gray Davis vetoed a "Buy California" bill that would have granted a small preference to local businesses because it was WTO-illegal. Conforming with the WTO required entire sections of US laws to be rewritten. Many countries are even changing their laws and constitutions in anticipation of potential future WTO rulings and negotiations.

11. There are Alternatives to the WTO

Citizen organizations have developed alternatives to the corporate-dominated system of international economic governance. Together we can build the political space that nurtures a democratic global economy that promotes jobs, ensures that every person is guaranteed their human rights to food, water, education, and health care, promotes freedom and security, and preserves our shared environment for future generations.

WTO Meeting Tonight in Ptld + Links 12.Sep.2003 14:31

Pink Emma

"primarily apathetic" asks: "If you have knowledge please share, if you have documentation, web, snail addresses, or info about upcoming meetings to discuss particularly how the WTO works, definately share!"

Want info? Want meetings? Want links? Here's a sampling.
Fri. September 12, 7pm

The WTO: Can Global Trade be both Free and Fair?
A Community Action Forum Series

Hear both sides of the issue from local experts.
Mingle at the info tables of groups involved in this issue.
Sept 12, 7PM First Unitarian Church, 12th and SW Main
Suggested donation $5
Moderator: Allison Frost, of OPB Radio
Panelists: Martin Hart-Landsberg, Economics Lewis & Clark
Scott Goddin, US Department of Commerce
Brent Foster, Environmental Lawyer, Sierra Club
Jonathan Schlueter, Pac ific NW Grain & Feed Assoc