(en) Meeting in Spain after the II Encuentro - Activities on the WTO

Play Fair Europe! (playfair@charlie.asta.RWTH-Aachen.DE)
Mon, 09 Jun 1997 19:21:44 +0200


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Dear friends,

please find enclose the description of several projects that we are putting forward in connection with the 2nd WTO Ministerial Conference that will take place in Geneva next year.

As you can see in the appendix, we are organising a meeting in Spain from the 4th to the 8th of August, right after the second intercontinental Encuentro (gathering) against neo-liberalism and for humanity. In this meeting we will discuss different initiatives related to the WTO - not just the ones that follow, also other proposed by other organisations or individuals. If you are interested, please contact us as soon as possible. And please let us know if you are already informed about the second Encuentro.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Rosa Ruano xxxxxx

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1998 WTO MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE IN GENEVA

The 2nd WTO Ministerial Conference will take place in Geneva in 1998, according to some rumours in the second half of May 1998. It will be combined with an official commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the multilateral trading system (GATT and WTO). These events should "celebrate the past while preparing the way for the future" (WTO FOCUS, no. 16, =46ebruary 1996).

This is in our opinion a fine opportunity to explain to the public what the WTO is about, what interests it defends, the extent of its power and its social and environmental impact. More important than this, it is a really strategic moment to express opposition to the destructive effects that the global market and the WTO have on rural societies, dignity in labour, the environment, cultural diversity and self-determination.

We in Play Fair Europe! have developed some proposals to take action against the WTO in general and the Ministerial Conference in particular. Our point of departure is a very clear rejection of the WTO as active promotor of a socially and environmentally destructive globalisation. Our attitude is hence confrontational, since we do not think that lobbying can have a major impact in such a biased and undemocratic organisation as the WTO. This does not mean that we are not willing to work with organisations involved in lobbying, it just means that we will not lobby ourselves.

We present you in this document a list of projects, some of which we are going to realise in any case and some of which are still on the air. We would like to know whether you are interested in any of them. Most of them are still just drafts, and we will be happy to discuss and redefine them with the organisations interested on taking part on their realisation.

Probably some of these projects will take place within the process of the People's Summit on trade, money and finance, but this is still to be discussed (see appendix).

If you are interested in any of the following proposals, please contact us at Turmstrasse 3, D-52072 Aachen, Germany; fax 49-241-8888394, e-mail <playfair@asta.rwth-aachen.de>.

A. Preparatory process

Most of our work will be aimed at increasing awareness and promoting a critical view of the WTO in the run-up to the Ministerial Conference. To this end we will produce several publications, hold a seminar and organise three roundtables of different sectors of civil society. We also propose to organise a conference on alternatives to the WTO (see point a5). We are open for collaboration in all these activities, but the one that we are most interested in discussing with you is the mentioned proposal for a conference on alternatives to the WTO.

a.1. Leaflet(s) on the WTO

We will print a leaflet with the most basic information about the WTO on plain language (what it is, what powers it has, how it takes decisions, who is behind it, which areas of life it affects, etc.). It will be published in several languages (English, Spanish, French and German to start with, probably also in Italian) and distributed through different networks. The Geneva Ministerial Conference will be explicitly mentioned in the leaflet as an important moment for action all over the world. We expect this leaflet to be ready in the next two months.

Another project in which we might work is a series of more specific leaflets targeted at certain groups, which would handle only certain areas of influence of the WTO, like the WTO and food security, the WTO and labour conditions, the WTO and the consumers, the WTO and the environment, the WTO and indigenous peoples, the WTO and the end of democracy, the WTO and cultural diversity... It is not clear yet whether we are going to do this series, it depends on the interest showed by other organisations.

a.2. Fingerbook on trade liberalisation and the WTO

=46ingerbooks are small booklets (DIN A6 or DIN A5 size) which contain several case studies written by a diversity of groups on a particular topic. We want to produce one on trade liberalisation, analysed from a social and ecological perspective.

The case studies should be short (two or three pages, including pictures) and describe how international trade is affecting the community, region or country of the group writing it. It is not so important that the case studies are based on special research or on academic papers; much more important is that they reflect what people at local level think and how they see the issue affecting them.

The collection of case studies should reflect a variety of consequences of international trade in a wide range of countries. The main topics for us, which should be represented in at least one case study, are:

* destruction of the peasantry; end of food security and sovereignty * erosion of workers' rights; end of dignity in labour * promotion of the accumulation process; economic rule by multinationals * environmental problems linked with int. trade (loss of biodiversity, greenhouse effect...) * effects of the dominance of int. competitiveness over social and environmental policies * specific effects on women * destruction of cultural diversity

Beyond that, we propose four more sections, writen by the editors:

* a general introduction to the issue, where the main arguments against economic globalisation are described in plain language and short form * a short description of the WTO similar to the information in the leaflet * a final part on what each of us can do to stop globalisation (including th= e issue of the WTO Ministerial Conference in 1998) * a short description and contact addresses of the editors, contributors and collaborators

The issues treated by the fingerbook should cover all the major aspects of international trade ruled by the WTO. At least, the book should in our opinion specifically cover the consequences of the Agriculture Agreement, the TRIPs agreement, the SPS agreement, the TRIMs agreement and the planned liberalisation of non-trade related investment. We would also like to have case studies on the results of the dispute resolution panels until now (bananas, hormones, magazines in Canada, gasoline in the USA, alcohol in Japan, etc).

The kind of groups that we want to contact for this fingerbook are (among others):

* farmers' and fisherfolk organisations * specific trade unions (like the seringueiros, unions of maquiladora worker= s, dockers, etc.) * indigenous peoples' organisations * anti-roads movements and other environmental groups * specific women's organisations * specific solidarity groups and development NGOs * consumers' organisations

We would differentiate three kinds of involvement for this fingerbook:

1. editors, which would share among them the following responsibilities:

* looking for funds for the book * agreeing on the definitive contents of the book (and its title) * contacting potential contributors * editing the case studies * securing translation of the fingerbook (at least in English, French and Spanish) * writing the four sections mentioned above

2. collaborators, which would help with one or two of the tasks of editing organisations (for example, contacting one or two contributing organisations) but carry no responsibility and do not take part on the decision-making

3. contributors, the ones who write the case studies.

We think that the best process for getting the book going is to have a meeting with persons interested on it after the 2nd Encuentro in Spain (see appendix) in order to do together the definitive project and planify its realisation.

Ideally, the fingerbook would be ready in Autumn, so that we can use it as a major campaign tool towards the Ministerial Conference.

a.3. Autumn University "Surviving in a Globalised World", Sept.-Oct. 1997

The 2nd Autumn University on North-South Issues "Surviving in a Globalised World" is a two-weeks seminar for 150 (mainly young) people, which has agriculture and the WTO as main topics. Please contact us for further details.

There will be one and a half days for campaign planning at the of the seminar, in which we will talk with the participants about what can be done on the topics that the seminar is about. Hence, one of the major topics for the campaign planning will probably be the WTO. In fact, the seminar has as main aim preparing a whole set of anti-WTO activists.

The Autumn University is planned since half a year, hence there is not much left to discuss on its concept and contents. But we invite you to come and be part of the campaign planning.

a.4. Roundtables & publications on globalisation

We are organising in Aachen a series of three roundtables on the following aspects of globalisation:

* Globalisation and education * Globalisation, biotechnology and food security * Globalisation and unemployment

We want to invite organisations of people directly affected or concerned by these issues to come to the roundtables. These would be in our opinion:

(a) for the one on education: student and pupil organisations and unions, youth organisations, teachers' unions

(b) for the one on biotechnology and food security: farmers' organisations, consumers' organisations, churches, environmental organisations, development and solidarity NGOs, youth organisations

(c) for the one on unemployment: trade unions, organisations of the unemployed, youth organisations

We expect to invite around 120 people to each roundtable. The scope of the participation in the roundtables will most probably be reduced to Europe (due to financial constrains and to the fact that we will target both the EU and the WTO in them). We want to secure participation in any case from each member state of the EU, and if possible from other countries. We will have sequential translation to all languages in which this is needed.

All roundtables will be 5 days long and share more or less the same planning and schedule. One or two months before the roundtable, the invited organisations would receive a reader with different views on the issue (with materials of the pro and contra globalisation positions). During the roundtable itself, the first two days would be devoted to presentations and debates with representatives of both views (for which we will invite representatives of the WTO and the EU, but also from the critical side). Then, the last three days wil be devoted to debate among the participants, with the aim of producing a statement on the issue and to discuss the possibility to take common action on the issue. The WTO Geneva Ministerial Conference will definitely be present in this discussion.

We will publish three booklets with the contents and results of the roundtables. The exact contents of these booklets will be established by the participants of the roundtables, but we expect them to include the analysis of the issue in short form and plain language, the declaration adopted in the roundtable and the description of the actions discussed there (which will hopefully include references to the WTO Ministerial Conference). We will try to get it printed in as many languages as possible.

We are already fundraising for the roundtables and publications, and we expect an answer soon. In case there are not enough funds for three roundtables, we might reduce the number to only two. The provisional dates that we have planned for the roundtables are:

* 11th to 16th of November 1997: Globalisation and education * 9th to 14th of December 1997: Globalisation, biotechnology and food securi= ty * 27th of January to 1st of February 1998: Globalisation and unemployment

The publications would come some weeks later.

a.5. Peoples' Conference on Alternatives to the WTO

This proposed conference is in our view the most important part of the preparation process.

The idea is to organise a conference on alternatives to the WTO before the Ministerial Conference, with the participation of organisations and movements of people directly affected by the effects of trade liberalisation, as well as some NGOs, all of them sharing a confrontational position towards the WTO. The objectives would be:

1. to present alternatives to the WTO regime from the perspectives of people confronting and resisting the globalisation process

2. to coordinate confrontative actions against the Ministerial Conference al= l over the world 3. (as part of 2) to set up the organisational and political basis and of an "international resistance press office" in Geneva during the Ministerial Conference, which should act as a link between the media acredited there and the actions against the WTO going on in different parts of the world (see point B).

In our opinion it would be best if the conference would take place in March the latest, so that it can also act as a timely call of attention to organise good actions parallel to the Ministerial Conference. We would think about around 600 to 800 participants from all over the world (if funds are available) representing the range of peoples' movements (farmers, indigenous peoples, women, etc.) as well as confrontative trade unions and NGOs. For us the best option would be holding the conference in Geneva, combined with an action against the WTO.

In case enough organisations show interest in this idea we will adapt the roundtables (point a4), to make them part of the preparatory process for the peoples' conference.

As for the organisation process, we would suggest that the organisations interested in this project have a special meeting from the 4th to 8th of August, at the end of the II Encuentro against neo-liberalism (see appendix) to define the concept of the conference, distribute responsibilities and form an organisation committee with representation of organisations from different continents and the different sectors of society opposed to the WTO. We propose to have this preparatory meeting at the end of the II Encuentro because many organisations (especially from the South) will be there.

B. During the Ministerial Conference

We in Play Fair Europe! will concentrate our energies on the preparatory process for the Ministerial Conference. The only international undertaking that we propose to organise paralell to the Conference is an international press office, since we think that a series of protest actions at local level all around the world is more effective than a central act in Geneva.

The aim of the proposed press office would be to pass information about the actions taking place against the WTO all over the world to the international media accredited in Geneva.

We would favour an office with following characteristics:

1. representation of different kinds of organisations confronted to the WTO (farmers' organisations, trade unions, indigenous peoples organisations, women's organisations, consumers, youth, etc.) and different continents 2. representation of a common platform against the WTO developed at the Peoples' Conference on Alternatives to the WTO (see point a5 above) 3. the ability to inform in several languages

This idea of an international press office still needs a lot of discussion with many more organisations. We hope to have this discussion in the framework of the preparatory process, starting with the meeting after the II Encuentro (see appendix).

APPENDIX:

II ENCUENTRO INTERCONTINENTAL POR LA HUMANIDAD Y CONTRA EL NEOLIBERALISMO AND PEOPLE=B4S SUMMIT ON TRADE, MONEY AND FINANCE

=46rom July 26th to August 3rd around 4.000 people will gather in Spain for the second intercontinental Encuentro (gathering) against neo-liberalism and for humanity. The first one was organised by the zapatistas in Chiapas (Mexico) last summer.

The aim of this second Encuentro is to create a worldwide network of people in struggle, brought together by their common rejection of neo-liberalism and globalisation. The actors in this effort include different kinds of organisations (solidarity orgs., farmers' orgs., trade unions, indigenous peoples' orgs., pacifist orgs., womens orgs., environmental orgs., etc). All of us have a common inspiration in the struggle of indigenous peoples in Chiapas for autonomy and self management outside the global marketplace, but the scope of the gathering will go far beyond the Zapatismo.

The Encuentro will take place in 5 different places in Spain, where there will be discussions in smaller groups about the network that we want to build and about different topics (land, labour, environment, gender, culture, etc.). At the end all the participants will meet in "El Indiano" (a peasants' community) to finalise the discussions and launch the network.

You will find more information about the Encuentro in the web pages http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/3849/gatherdx.html (English), http://www.pangea.org/encuentro for information in Spanish.

Contact us in case you have no access to the web.

Meeting after the II Encuentro

A similar process to this one of the Encuentros is the People's Summit on trade, money and finance, initiated by organisations of different kinds (peasants', fisherfolk, youth, academic, etc.), which aims at developing a strategy for opposition to the globalisation process in general and the WTO in particular with the help of a series of national fora and international meetings. This process has been endorsed by quite some organisations so far.

We are organising a smaller meeting right after the Encuentro, with the following aims:

* to discuss about the People's Summit and its relationship with the Encuent= ros process, as well as with the network that should result from this 2nd Encuentro * to discuss a number of concrete proposals for action against the WTO, like the the peoples' conference on alternatives to the WTO and the fingerbook on trade (both mentioned above), but also other proposals brought forward by other organisations or persons, with organisations interested on working against the WTO

The number of people attending the meeting after the Encuentro is still to be defined; the current talks are about 100 to 120 persons. These would be people already involved in the People's Summit process and other people who, without being part of the People's Summit, want to get active on the WTO. The dates for this meeting are the 4th to the 8th of August.

If you are interested in the post-Encuentro meeting, please get in touch wit= h Play Fair Europe!, Turmstrasse 3, D-52072 Aachen, Germany; fax 49-241-88.88.394, e-mail <playfair@asta.rwth-aachen.de>.

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Play Fair Europe! e.V. Tel: +49-241-80 37 92 Turmstr. 3 Fax: +49-241-88 88 394 52072 Aachen, Germany email: playfair@asta.rwth-aachen.de

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