[OPE-L:5787] Peoples' Global Action Against "Free" Trade and the World Trade Organizati

Gerald Levy ()
Tue, 2 Dec 1997 07:51:24 -0500 (EST)

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Date: Wed, 26 Nov 1997 19:57:25 -0500 (EST)
>From: m205526@er.uqam.ca
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(version fran=e7aise disponible, anterieurement envoyee au
Peoples' Global Action against "Free" Trade
and the World Trade Organisation

>From the 18th to the 20th of May 1998, heads of state and ministers from
whole world will meet in Geneva for the 2nd Ministerial Conference of the
World Trade Organisation (WTO), and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of
the multilateral trade system (GATT and WTO), the main instrument of
transnational capital for organising and enforcing global economic
governance. This event will, in the words of its organisers, "celebrate the
past while preparing the way for the future" of trade liberalisation -
i.e., of the destruction of rural societies, dignity in labour, the
environment, cultural diversity and self-determination.
>From the 23rd to the 25th of February, peoples' movements from all
continents will meet in Geneva to launch a worldwide coordination of
resistance against the global market, a new alliance of struggle and mutual
support called the Peoples' Global Action against "Free" Trade and the WTO
The hallmarks of the alliance are:
1. A very clear rejection of the WTO and other trade liberalisation
agreements (like APEC, the EU, NAFTA, etc.) as active promoters of a
socially and environmentally destructive globalisation
2. A confrontational attitude, since we do not think that lobbying can have
a major impact in such biased and undemocratic organisations, in which
transnational capital is the only real policy-maker
3. A call to non-violent civil disobedience and the construction of local
alternatives by local people, as answers to the action of governments and
4. An organisational philosophy based on decentralisation and autonomy
These four points will be the basis of the discussions in February, the
common positions on which we will construct the platform. They were
developed in a discussion process among organisations from all over the
world that included an international meeting in August 1997. In the
following pages you will find the summary of the results of this
discussion. If you are interested in the full version, please contact PFE!
Aachen, Turmstr. 3, 52072 Aachen, Germany; tel. +49-241-80.37.92, fax
+49-241-88.88.394, e-mail <playfair@asta.rwth-aachen.de>.
What is the Peoples' Global Action against "Free" Trade and the WTO?
The Peoples' Global Action against "Free" Trade and the WTO (PGA) is an
evolving coordination, and as such will change with time. Thus what follows
is not engraved in stone, it is just the idea of the PGA shared by the
organisations working on it right now.
The PGA is an instrument for co-ordination, not an organisation. Its
objectives are inspiring the greatest possible number of persons and
organisations to act against "free" trade through non-violent civil
disobedience and people-oriented constructive actions, offering an
instrument for co-ordination and mutual support at global level for those
fighting "free" trade and giving more international projection to the
struggles against "free" trade and the WTO. The political analysis and call
for action of the PGA are reflected in its manifesto, a living document
that will be revised every two years.
The PGA has no membership, and it does not and will not have a juridical
personality. No organisation or person represents the PGA, nor does the PGA
represent any organisation or person.
There will be conferences of the PGA approximately every two years, about
three months before the WTO Ministerial Conferences. The functions of these
conferences will be updating the manifesto (if necessary), advancing in the
process of co-ordination at global level of the resistance against "free"
trade, and co-ordinating decentralised actions parallel to the following
WTO Ministerial Conference.
These conferences will be convened by a committee conformed by
organisations and movements from all continents and representing different
sectors of society. The local organisers will be part of the committee.
This committee will determine the programme of the conference, take
decisions about which organisations can send delegates to the conference
and about the use of resources (especially for travel reimbursements),
advise the local organisers in technical and organisational questions,
decide which publications can be printed under the name of the PGA, and
scrutinise the content of the information tools of the PGA (see below). The
committee cannot speak in the name of the PGA.
In each conference of the PGA the Convenors' Committee of the next
conference will be elected.. The Convenors' Committee must change 1000f
its membership in each conference.
The PGA has several information tools, including a regular bulletin, a web
page and other publications, which are to be done voluntarily by
organisations and individuals supportive of the aims of the PGA. Their
elaboration will take place in a decentralised and rotative manner. The
PGA will not have any ressources. The funds needed to pay the conferences
and the information tools will have to be raised in a decentralised way.
All the funds raised for the conference will be administered by the
Convenors' Committee. The publications will have to be self-financed.
The conferences of the PGA will not include the discussion of the
organisational principles in the programme. However, if there is a concrete
request, a discussion group on organisational questions will be formed.
This discussion group will meet parallel to the programme of the
conference, to elaborate concrete modification proposals which shall be
voted upon in the plenary.
The PGA hopes that it will inspire the creation of different platforms
(both regional and issue-based) against "free" trade and the different
institutions that promote it. However, there will be no formal relationship
between these platforms and the PGA. The platforms will hence be completely
Draft Manifesto of the
Peoples' Global Action against "Free" Trade and the WTO (To be discussed
and amended at the conference in February).
Capitalism inevitably matures into imperialism. This has been the cause of
the two world wars. Capitalism must globalise itself through political and
economic machinations and in the process brings out the fatal flaws
inherent in it.
In its current sense "Globalisation" means further rearranging the
international economic order to avert the crisis of capitalism. It means
the further dismantling of barriers to the free movement of capital to ld.
These vastly increased scope of "trade agreements" through the Uruguay
Round and now beyond it to the current negotiations in the WTO has
tremendous significance for the shaping of national economic and social
policies, for the scope of development options, concerns over equity and
marginalisation, and national sovereignty.
As though this was not enough a "new issue" is being promoted by the
Northern countries which is termed as the Multilateral Agreement on
Investments. The objective is to establish an international agreement that
widens the rights of foreign investors far beyond the current position in
most countries, and severely curtail the right and powers of governments to
regulate the entry, establishment and operations of foreign companies and
investors. This initiative is currently also the most important development
in attempts to extend the scope of globalisation and liberalisation. Such a
push would abolish the power and the legitimate sovereign right of states
and peoples to determine their own economic and social policies. This is a
precious right which is especially vital for developing countries to
protect their domestic sectors comprising local firms, local farms and the
public sector which have been weakened through colonialism and which still
require a longer period of capacity building.
To further impair the domestic production capacity of Southern countries,
the Northern corporate powers are insisting on the reduction also of the
powers of states to quantitatively restrict the import of industrially
produced goods.
The total impact of all these trade arrangements would result in the
marginalisation of traditional producers in all the developing countries
and the creation of markets catering to their elite-few, which, in turn
would result in wide-spread poverty, hunger and all the possible
consequences like child labour, bonded labour, prostitution and other
social strifes, ending possibly in the extermination of millions of people
around the developing world.
The effects of trade liberalisation are not restricted to the South. Driven
by the lure of cheap labour, the appeal of weak or non-existent labour and
environmental regulation, the aversion to taxes and the lust for profit,
the Northern corporate powers are making use of the increased mobility of
goods and services. They are increasingly shifting their capital and
activity to developing countries at the cost of the employment of their own
nationals, which is already in historic lows due to "rationalisation"
technologies. The effects of this process in the North are multiple and
deeply interlinked: deconstruction of social services, disappearance of the
bargaining power of workers and complete subordination of policy-makers to
the will of industrialists. The globalisation of misery also includes the
industrialised countries.
In spite of sporadic protests against these developments by affected
populations and also by enlightened citizens' groups, corporate powers do
not show signs of relenting. This trend, it appears, cannot be modified, as
even the "democratically" elected governments of not only the Southern
countries but also of most of the Northern countries have been implementing
these policies even without a debate with either their own peoples or
peoples' representatives. The only alternative left for the people is to
just destroy this trend in trade agreements.
Though awareness and also opposition to these dastardly developments by
various affected sectors are quite visible around the world, the need for a
co-ordination of these protests towards a concerted action to overthrow
this new world disorder has become very urgent.
Only a global alliance of peoples' movements, which can implement
action-oriented alternatives, can defeat this emerging globalised monster.
If impoverishment of populations is the agenda of this neo-liberalism,
empowerment of the peoples should become the agenda of this global alliance
of peoples' actions.
Peoples' control and power over both production and consumption has to be
restored, and capitalism's mischief on nature has to be stopped. The
revival of traditional knowledge systems and traditional technologies, and
the strengthening of traditional local market systems by developing
producer-consumer linkages and co-operatives (and developing similar
linkages internationally), are the only logical alternatives to the
domination of people and nature by transnational capital.
In the context of governments all over the world acting as the creatures
and tools of capitalist powers, the only alternative left for the people is
to restore for themselves a life with direct democracy. Direct democratic
action is hence the only possible way to stop the mischief of capitalism.
Democratic action carries with it the essence of non-violent civil
disobedience to the unjust system. It also has the essential element of
Breaking the unjust system through direct action and strengthening peoples'
power is the manifesto of this new global alliance of peoples' movements.
Civil disobedience and constructive action must become the hallmarks of
this peoples' alliance. This is the call of the Peoples' Global Action
against "Free" Trade and the WTO.
First Conference of the Peoples' Global Action against "Free" Trade
and the WTO, Geneva, 23-25 February 1998
This conference will lay down the definitive basis of the Peoples' Global
Action (PGA). Its objectives are discussing and amending the manifesto of
the PGA, co-ordinating decentralised protest actions all over the world
during the Ministerial Conference of the WTO in May, promoting the creation
of local, national, regional and topic-based platforms, and setting up the
basis of an information and press network to give more international
projection to the work of peoples' movements. As part of this, setting up
an ad-hoc office during the WTO Ministerial Conference, with the task of
passing on information materials (press releases, photos, video footages if
possible) on the protest actions taking place all over the world to the
international press accredited in Geneva.
This will not be an open conference for the general public, but a meeting
of delegates from all continents to create the PGA. It will hence not be a
conference to inform, but to work. The participants will be people active
in concrete struggles of resistance against "free" trade. They will not
necessarily have to be representatives of popular mass movements (although
these will have preference); also representatives of small groups will have
a place. If there are male and female applicants from a region, preference
will be given to women. A maximum of 500f the participants will be
European, in order to secure a minimal equilibrium between continents.
This conference should be attended only by delegates of organisations that
agree with the four points of departure of the PGA (clear rejection of the
WTO and other liberalisation fora; confrontational attitude; a call to
non-violent civil disobedience and to the construction of local
alternatives by local populations; decentralisation and autonomy as
organisational principles). In the conference we will discuss changes in
the draft of the manifesto in order to improve and complete it, but its
four conceptual bases will not be subjects of debate.
This conference is convened by a committee formed by:
* Foundation for Independent Analysis / Foundation for an Independent
Aotearoa, Aotearoa
* Frente Zapatista de Liberaci=f3n Nacional (FZLN), M=e9xico (EZLN to be
* Indigenous Women's Network, North America and the Pacific
* Karnataka State Farmers' Association (KRRS), India
* Mama 86, Ukraine
* Movimento Sem Terra (MST), Brazil
* Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Nigeria
* Peasant Movement of the Philippines (KMP), Philippines
* Central Sandinista de Trabajadores (CST), Nicaragua
* Play Fair Europe! (PFE!), Europe
* The Geneva organisation committee

The secretariat of the conference will be located in the Philippines, at
office of the Peasant Movement of the Philippines (KMP), 69 Maayusin corner
Malambing Street, UP Village, Quezon City 1101, the Philippines. Tel
+63-2-435 3564; fax 63-2-435 3568 (until November 1997 only) or +63-2-920
5668 (from November 1997 onwards). E-mail kmp@info.com.ph
Arrival, registration, distribution of lodging, orientation etc. will start
on the 18th of February (since there will be activities starting on that
date - see below). The accommodation of delegates will take place in
squatted and private houses, in order to avoid unnecessary expenses. The
conference will take place in a building furnished by the trade unions in
the center of Geneva, where lunch will also be served. Below is the
provisional programme (a detailed description is available on request).
Monday 23rd February Manifesto
Tuesday 24th February Co-ordination of actions
Wednesday 25th Feb. Information & Press

09:00 - 10:00 Plenary: Welcome and presentation
10:00 - 13:00 Work in small topic-related groups (1) on the manifesto
09:00 - 10:30 Plenary:presentation of the manifesto
10:30 - 13:00 Work in small topic-related groups on actions
09:00 - 10:00 Plenary: presentation of the new CC and the press team
10:00 - 12:30 Discussion about the information press network in
12:30 - 13:00 Conclusion plenary
13:00 - 14:30 Lunch
14:30 - 18:30 Work in small topic-related groups on the manifesto
14:30 - 16:30 Work in small regional groups (2) on the actions
17:00 - 19:00 Forum 1
19:30 - 21:30 Forum 2
Afternoon: public demonstration!
18:30 - 20:00 Dinner 21:30 Dinner.
20:00 Cultural programme. Meeting of the Convenors' Committee (CC) & group
rapporteurs on the manifesto Meeting to establish the new CC and the press
team to cover the Ministerial Conference, according to the proposals of the
groups Evening: closing event and party
(1) Topic-related groups: a) peasants; b) indigenous peoples; c) trade
unions; d) women; e) youth; f) unemployed; g) migrants; h) environment;
i) housing; j) culture; k) health; l) students
(2) The division of the regional groups is not done yet; it will depend on
the amount of Southern delegates present at the conference (which will
depend on the amount of funds that we can raise for travel expenses) The
Europeans assume the responsibility of co-ordinating the fund-raising, but
they expect the collaboration of other continents in the efforts to finance
the conference. We expect to use a great percentage of the funds raised to
finance travel expenses, since there will be no lodging expenses and the
building where the conference will take place will be very cheap. We will
only finance the trips of participants from the South and from Central and
Eastern Europe (ex-socialist countries).
The rule that limits the participation of Europeans to a maximum of 500f
the total means a serious commitment to get funds for the travel expenses
of participants in the South and the East, since if we do not obtain these
funds, we will not reach the amount of participants that we want to have in
the conference. The biggest plenary room available has space for about 600
persons, which means that if we want to fill it up, we need to obtain funds
for 300 tickets.
There will be a participation fee that will cover the expenses related to
the participation in the conference (food, previous communication with the
participants, etc.) and the preparatory costs. This fee will be the same
for the whole world, but it will be a fee in ECOs, a (non-existent)
equitable currency with an exchange rate that compensates for the
differences in the costs of living and in the average purchasing power of
different countries. It will be low enough to facilitate participation by
Events around the First Conference of the PGA
There will be several other events before and after the First Conference of
the PGA (23-25 February 1998). All these events will be open for all kinds
of public, while the conference (due to place restrictions) will only be
open to delegates. These events will be:
(1) A number of information and discussion roundtables on different topics
>from the 18th to the 21st of February. In these roundtables, groups of
about 50 to 100 people will exchange information and discuss the topics on
which they work. The roundtables will be organised in a decentralised way,
by groups interested in the issue from all over the world, in cooperation
with groups from Geneva (which will help with the logistics). An indicative
list of topics is given below. However, the roundtables will only take
place if there is enough preparatory work, which will not be done by the
Convenors' Committee. This means that the existence of the roundtables will
depend on the willingness of organisations from different countries to
participate in their preparation. So if your organisation is interested in
one of these topics, please help us preparing the roundtable. Contact Play
Fair Europe! Aachen (Turmstr. 3, 52072 Aachen, Germany; tel.
+49-241-80.37.92, fax 88.88.394, e-mail playfair@asta.rwth-aachen.de) to
find out which organisations are working on the preparation of each
The roundtables that will probably take place are:
Culture: the loss of diversity; globalisation of disinformation; alienated
culture. Fighting back
Economy: mobility of goods and capital; livelihoods; labour; unionism;
unemployment; exclusion...
Environment: consumerism, commons, health....
Food production: agriculture, peasantry, fisherfolk, biotechnology, etc.
Human Rights: political, economic, social and cultural
Indigenous Peoples: original nations, tribal organisations, and other
traditional communities
Politics: accumulation of power by transnational capital; civil
participation; forms of struggle
This list of roundtables is not closed, it is possible to propose new
topics to the convenors' committee (through Play Fair Europe! Aachen). The
precise topics, scope and programme of each roundtable will be defined by
the groups and persons organising them, but should include some focus on
the impact of "free" trade on the subject. More general presentations of
the subject in the evenings for the general public and other delegates
should also be planned as part of all roundtables.
(2) A one-day seminar on the World Trade Organisation on Sunday the 22nd of
February, most probably at the University of Geneva. It will be targetted
to the participants of the 1st Conference of the PGA and to the general
(3) The same roundtables that meet on 18-21 February will meet again on the
26th of February (right after the 1st Conference of the PGA) to have a
one-day co-ordination and planning session on their topic. The aim of this
one-day session will be to create topic-based platforms for coordination
and action of the same kind as the PGA, but on more specific issues.
(4) Finally, on the 27th of February there will be a European meeting to
launch a Europe-wide movement of civil disobedience against =ab free =bb
trade. If you are interested, please contact PFE! Aachen.
Publications and information tools
The two main information tools of the PGA are a monthly bulletin and a web
page containing a database on =ab free =bb trade and popular resistance
movements. Both instruments will be accessible via internet and through a
decentralised information distribution network, composed of persons and
groups with access to internet which take the responsibility of sending the
information to those who cannot access the internet and collecting
subscription fees. We are still in the process of forming such a
decentralised network; if you are interested, please contact PFE! Aachen.
We will also print a small booklet with concrete examples of the effect of
"free" trade on people and nature. This booklet will also give concrete
examples of actions that everybody can take against trade liberalisation.
Please get in touch with PFE! Aachen if you have any suggestions for case
studies or want to help with the project.
The Convenors' Committee can allow any organisation to print other
publications and leaflets with more specific information (e.g. on the WTO
and the peasantry, the WTO and indigenous peoples, etc.) in the name of the
PGA, if the committee agrees that the contents of this publication are
conform with the political line of the PGA manifesto.
Application Form
Questions for all applicants
Family name(s)
First name(s)
Do you want to participate in one of the roundtables (18-23 Feb)? If yes,
in which one? (you might propose a new topic, but then we will assume that
you are willing to work on the preparation of the roundtable. Furthermore
you will have to wait for confirmation from the convenors' committee)
Do you want to be part of the preparation of this roundtable?
Only for applicants who need a visa (Africa,Asia, Per=fa, Turkey, ex-USSR)
Name and first name of husband/wife
For married women: Family name before marriage
Birth date
Passport number and date of issue
Civil status: married, single, divorced?
Address at home
Did you ever come to Switzerland before?
If yes when?
Do you have a visa for another european country?
If yes, for which country?
Are you a salaried worker?
If yes at which company?
Are you an independent worker?
If yes, in what kind of activity?
Are you a student? If yes, what are you studying? When will you finish your
Obtaining swiss visas can be a long process, so please send us this
information as soon as possible
There is a number of tasks related to the preparation of the conference
that should be done by the greatest possible number of persons and
They are:
1. Distributing information about the PGA and the conference
2.Gathering and systematising documents about different PGA-related topics
3. Translating documents
4. Press work
5. Creating regional platforms
6. Fund-raising for the conference

Please write some lines specifying to what extend you can and want to help
with any of them. Please attach a brief description of your organisation
and its activities to this form. Please copy and send the answers to this
form to: Secretariat of the Peoples' Global Action, c/o KMP, 69 Maayusin
corner Malambing Street, UP Village, Quezon City 1101, the Philippines.
Tel +63-2-435 3564; +63-2-920 5668, E-mail kmp@info.com.ph