INTERNATIONAL PROGRESS ORGANIZATION JOINS 1449 NGOs IN CALLING ON THE W.T.O. TO HALT ITS FLAWED LIBERALIZATION PLAN
Vienna, 27 November 1999
The International Progress Organization, along with 1449 non-Governmental organizations, representing 89 countries, has issued a statement calling on the WTO to halt its plan to expand its economic liberalization program, and to undertake a comprehensive review of consequences of its policies on the global economy, particularly on the disadvantaged developing countries. Below is the full text of the statement.
Stop the Millennium Round!
In November 1999, the governments of the world will meet in Seattle for the World Trade Organization's Third Ministerial Conference. We, the undersigned members of international civil society, oppose any effort to expand the powers of the World Trade Organization (WTO) through a new comprehensive round of trade liberalization. Instead, the governments should review and rectify the deficiencies of the system and the WTO regime itself.
The Uruguay Round Agreements and the establishment of the WTO were proclaimed as a means of enhancing the creation of global wealth and prosperity and of promoting the well-being of all people in all member states. In reality, however, in the past five years 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 population and applying unsustainable patterns of production and consumption.
The Uruguay Round Agreements have functioned principally to prize open markets for the benefit of transnational corporations at the expense of national economies, of workers, farmers and other people, and the environment. In addition, the WTO system, its rules and procedures are undemocratic, nontransparent 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 economic instability, of the collapse of national economies, increasing inequity both between and within nations, and increasing environmental and social degradation, as a result of the acceleration of the process of globalization.
The governments, which dominate the WTO and the transnational corporations, which have benefited from the WTO system, have refused to recognize and address these problems. Instead, they are pushing for further liberalization through the introduction of new issues for adoption in the WTO. This will lead to the exacerbation of the crisis associated with the process of globalization and the WTO.
We oppose any further liberalization negotiations, especially those that will bring new areas under the WTO regime, such as investment, competition policy and government procurement. We commit ourselves to campaign to reject any such proposals. We also oppose the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement.
We call for a moratorium on any new issues or on further negotiations that expand the scope and power of the WTO.
During this moratorium, there should be a comprehensive and in-depth review and assessment of the existing agreements. Effective steps should then be taken to change the agreements. Such a review should address the WTO's impact on marginalized communities, on development, democracy, environment, health, human rights, labor rights and the rights of women and children. The review must be conducted with civil society's full participation.
The failure of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OEC) Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) demonstrates broad public opposition to the deregulation of the global economy, to the increasing dominance of transnational corporations, to the escalating use of resources, and to environmental degradation.
A review of the system will provide an opportunity for society to change course and develop an alternative, humane and sustainable international system of trade and investment relations.