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A 10-point plan to fight for the Americas: No to FTAA, no NAFTA for the Americas!

More than 164 organisations have signed the following declaration opposing the corporate model of globalisation expressed in the FTAA and advocating instead a new vision for the Americas and the Caribbean based on democracy, equitable and sustainable development and protection of public interest.


OVER the last decade, transnational corporations have used international commercial agreements to improve their profit margins at the expense of the public interest.

The 1994 implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the 1995 establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as part of the GATT Uruguay Round were both promoted as a means of creating global prosperity - a rising tide which would lift all boats by opening markets and encouraging the freer flow of goods and capital across borders. However, the record has shown that this corporate-managed trade model actually has encouraged a race to the bottom in labour, environmental and public health and safety standards; increased pressure on the environment and natural resources; loss of living-wage and unionised jobs; attacks on food security; increased levels of poverty and economic inequality; wildfire spread of financial crises such as the Mexican peso crisis; privatisation of services that denies many people access to essential social services such as health care, education and water access; and diminished democratic and accountable decision-making.

Now 34 heads of state and trade ministers, from every nation of the Western Hemisphere except Cuba, are discussing an expansion of this failed model of increased privatisation and deregulation to the entire hemisphere via a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). The proposed FTAA would combine the most problematic aspects of NAFTA, the WTO and the failed Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), effectively handcuffing governments' public interest policymaking capacity and enhancing corporate control at the expense of citizens throughout the Americas and the Caribbean, by:

* providing new 'investor protections' which empower corporations to sue governments in closed-door tribunals over domestic policies which may undermine their future expected profits, resulting in multi-million-dollar cash compensations to be paid by taxpayers;

* removing countries' abilities to regulate direct foreign investment, as well as speculative capital flows, in order to protect their economies from excessive volatility;

* setting up dispute resolution processes which refer disagreements to secret international trade tribunals above and outside of national judiciaries and which allow foreign governments and corporations to bypass a nation's courts and legal system;

* providing corporations with new rights and tools to attack government standards for food security, public health and safety, and worker safeguards and to attack laws that ensure that corporations do not pollute the communities in which they operate; and

* expanding 'trade' disciplines to cover the service sector, which could increase pressure on governments to privatise and/or deregulate essential public services that are already under fire.

FTAA negotiations have been conducted under the strictest terms of secrecy. Business groups acting as official advisors to the FTAA negotiators have seen the draft text and related documents, as have some government-selected labour and environmental groups in the United States. However, the public and journalists have not been allowed access to the text. Indeed, only one government of 34 has even made public its own recommended language for inclusion in the final agreement. Even parliamentarians have been denied access to crucial information or have been left unaware that negotiations were ongoing at all.

Despite the lack of transparency and democratic process in the negotiations, the governments involved are moving towards completion of the FTAA no later than 2005. They also are considering some 'early harvest' agreements, which means that certain chapters would go into effect much sooner - wreaking havoc throughout the hemisphere as parliaments are forced to change public interest laws and regulations to comply with corporate-led priorities. While civil society has attempted to voice its opinions and concerns to negotiators from various governments, there is no evidence to date that these concerns have been heard, much less considered, in the actual FTAA negotiations.

The undersigned groups will closely monitor their governments' participation in these negotiations to ascertain that FTAA negotiations modelled on a combination of NAFTA, MAI and WTO do not continue. Some specific indicators of the unacceptable corporate-managed trade system for which we will be watching are:

1. No new corporate power tools: Any NAFTA-style Chapter 11 Investment language allowing corporate suits against governments is unacceptable. This extreme mechanism in NAFTA allows corporations to sue governments in undemocratic, closed trade tribunals for cash damages for domestic regulations that the corporations claim undermine their future expected profits.

Already under NAFTA, this mechanism has been used to attack important domestic environmental, health and safety policies, effectively limiting the ability of governments to maintain national standards. In fact, every time corporations have invoked this NAFTA tool, the rulings and settlements have always been against the public interest and for corporations. In this perverse process, countries must compensate the 'victorious' corporation with taxpayer dollars and must continue to pay the company ransom if it keeps a public interest law in place.

2. Hands off basic social rights and needs of the Americas: It is inappropriate and unacceptable for social rights and basic needs to be constrained by trade rules, such as those proposed under current FTAA talks. Promoting, respecting and realising fundamental worker rights and other human rights by all relevant means is important, including action at the appropriate international institutions.

Issues critical to human or planetary welfare, such as food and water, basic social services, and health and safety, must not be undercut by commercial agreements. Inappropriate encroachment by trade rules in such areas has already resulted in major public campaigns centred on genetically modified organisms, old growth forests, domestically-prohibed goods and predatory tobacco marketing.

3. Services needed for survival: Services needed for survival, such as health, education, water, energy and other basic social services, must not be subject to trade rules. Domestic consumer health and safety, environmental and labour laws regulating any aspect of the service sector that treat domestic and foreign providers the same clearly must remain outside the purview of trade disciplines.

In the Americas and the Caribbean, structural adjustment programmes privatising and deregulating essential public services - which were required by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank - have already led to a severe lack of access to health care, schools and clean water for peoples throughout the region. Current FTAA proposals would lock in this failure forever, making it impossible for any government to reverse any bad decisions on privatisation of services.

4. Stop corporate patent protectionism - seeds and medicine are human needs, not commodities: All intellectual property policies must allow governments to limit patent protection in order to protect public health and safety, especially patents on life-saving medicines and life forms. The patenting of life forms including microorganisms must be prohibited in all national and international regimes. Current intellectual property rules in trade pacts, such as the WTO TRIPS agreement and NAFTA's Chapter 17 Intellectual Property rules, effectively prevent consumer access to essential medicines and other goods, lead to private appropriation of life forms and traditional knowledge, undermine biodiversity, and keep poorer countries from increasing their levels of social and economic welfare. There is no basis for inclusion of such intellectual property claims in a trade agreement.

Safeguarding food security

5. Food is a basic human right, not a commodity: Trade rules must not restrict countries' rights or abilities to establish or maintain policies safeguarding small farmers, rural economies and food security.

6. Control over natural resources: Citizens and governments - not transnational corporations - must have the right to make decisions about the use and protection of natural resources. Policies governing natural resources should strike a careful balance between the social benefits of preservation, job creation and economic expansion. Thus, international commercial terms such as those found in NAFTA, which allow corporate interests to challenge countries' control or regulation of land, mineral oil and gas deposits, forests, rivers and other natural resources, are unacceptable.

7. Do no further harm: NAFTA and the WTO both contain provisions that undermine domestic environmental, health, safety, agriculture and labour laws. There is no place for such anti-public interest provisions in future international commercial agreements. Moreover, actions taken to implement multilateral agreements dealing with workers' rights, the environment, health, development, human rights, safety, indigenous peoples' rights, food security, women's rights, and animal welfare must not be challenged or undermined by international commercial rules.

8. Disadvantaging women, minorities and indigenous peoples: There is no place in just international agreements for provisions that disallow a country from providing special and differential treatment to women, minorities, and indigenous people. Such an attack on countries' sovereign rights to determine domestic social priorities, for instance by offering preferential credit terms to disadvantaged segments of their populations, is offensive. Additionally, such policies are in direct conflict with international human rights agreements and the International Labour Organisation's Conventions.

9. Promoting development vs. corporate control: International commercial agreements must not discipline what governments can do to ensure that their citizens capture the benefits of foreign investment. The FTAA must not prevent governments from employing a variety of policy tools to promote equitable and sustainable development, such as restricting foreign capital in certain sectors, the reinvestment of profits, or limiting the purchase of farm land or other real estate.

10. Speedbumps against speculation: In order to prevent international financial crises from spreading, countries must maintain the power to take measures against speculative portfolio investment. The investment rules of NAFTA, which are the model for the FTAA, are exactly the wrong model, as they forbid governments to establish such basic protective measures.

The undersigned organisations are committed to fight against the corporate model of globalisation expressed in the FTAA, and will instead advocate for new visions for the Americas and Caribbean based on principles of democratic and transparent decision-making, equitable and sustainable development, and protection of the public interest above corporate profit.

Signed by 164 organisations in 15 countries as of 14 May 2001:

Argentina

Amigos de la Tierra Argentina

CTERA

FOCO - Foro para la Participaci-n Ciudadana en las Politicas de Desarrollo

Fundaci-n Proteger

Taller Ecologista

Bolivia

FOBOMADE - Foro Boliviano de Medioambiente y Desarrollo (Bolivian Environmental and Development Forum)

Brazil

FASE

INESC - Instituto de Estudos S-cio-econ(tm)micos

Instituto Terrazul

Kanind - Associasao de Defesa Ecoambiental

Nucleo de Amigo de la Tierra - Friends of the Earth Brasil

REBRIP - Rede Brasileira pela Integraćao dos Povos

Ser Mulher

Canada

Calgary Animal Rights Coalition

Canadian Action Party

Canadian Federation of Students

Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Toronto Local

CAW Local #199 (Canadian Automotive, Agriculture and General Workers)

CAW Local #1980 (Canadian Automotive, Agriculture and General Workers)

Council of Canadians

Ontario Public Interest Group - York University

Toronto Video Activist Collective (TVAC)

Vancouver Mobilisation for Global Justice

Chile

ADEMA

AFODEGAMA

AGAO 'Tierra Viva'

Agrupaci-n Ecol-gica Karumapu

AMPARES

'Aukinko Zomo'

Casa Ecol-gica

CE Huertos y Jardines

CEC del Caj-n del Maipo

CEC de Estaci-n Central

CEC de Lampa

CEC de Limache

CEC de Lo Prado

CEC de Melipilla

CEC de Quillota

CEC de Quinta Normal

CEC de Santiago

CEC Los Angeles

CEC San Carlos

CEC San Francisco

CEDEM

Centro de Desarrollo Susatentable, Univ. Cat-lica de Temuco

Centro de Inv. Instituto R'o Colorado

Chile Sustentable

Ciclo Arbol Vida

Colectivo Con-spirando

ComitŽ Aymara de Defensa del Medio Ambiente (CADMA)

ComitŽ de Ecolog'a Auquilda

Consejo Ecol-gico de Educaci-n Ambiental

Corp. CIAL

Corp. de Estudios Norte Grande

Corp. KAIRO'S

Familia Franciscana de Chile

Fundaci-n Instituto Indigena

Fundaci-n para la Tierra

GABB

GAEDA

IDDEA

IECh Sede Osorno

IEP

Instituto del M. Ambiente Gylania

Liga de Consumidores Conscientes

LIMPAL

MACH

Movimiento Furiosos Ciclistas MFC

NEWEN

ONG Ecologia y Desarrollo

PACHA-ARU

PACHAMAMA

PROMAS Coronel

PROMAS Osorno

Red Nacional de Acci-n Ecol-gica

RIMA

Semilla de la Nueva Humanidad

SERPAJ-ARICA

SERPAJ-Santiago

Taller de Estudios Andinos

TEKHNE

Colombia

CENSAT Agua Viva - Friends of the Earth Colombia

Costa Rica

COECOECIBA – Friends of the Earth Costa Rica

Ecuador

Grupo de Objecion de Conciencia del Ecuador

El Salvador

CESPA

Haiti

COHPEDA – Friends of the Earth Haiti

Mexico

DECA Equipo Pueblo, AC

RMALC

Nicaragua

The Alliance

Centro Humboldt - Friends of the Earth Nicaragua

Paraguay

Sobrevivencia - Friends of the Earth Paraguay

United States

Alliance for Democracy

Alliance for Democracy, Mendocino Coast Chapter

Alliance for Democracy, Minnesota Chapter

Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment

American Lands Alliance

Appalachian Peace and Justice Network

Atlanta Labour Solidarity Network

Bay Area Action

Boston Global Action Network

Coalition Against Global Exploitation (CAGE)

Community Action for Justice in the Americas (CAJA)

Congregation of the Sisters of the Good Shepard

Cumberland Countians for Peace & Justice (TN)

ENHALE - Environmental Health Advocacy League

Earth Alert

Friends of the Earth US

Front Range Fair Trade Coalition

Global Exchange

Green Party of Ohio

Idaho Media Project

Institute Justice Team, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, USA

Interfaith Alliance for Human Rights

International Development Exchange (IDEX)

Lane County Fair Trade Coalition, USA

New Hampshire Peace Action

Nicaragua Centre for Community Action

NISGUA – Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala

Ohio Fair Trade Campaign

Organic Consumers Association

Peninsula Conservation Centre Foundation

Peninsula Peace and Justice Centre

People Against Corporate Takeover (PACT)

Public Citizen

Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Centre

Sacramento Chapter of the Alliance for Democracy

Sacramento STOP FTAA Coalition

Santa Clarans for Social Justice

SCCAP (Santa Clara Community Action Programme)

School of the Americas Watch

Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs Association

Southwest Ohio Green Party

Stuyvesant High School Student Social Action Coalition, NYC, USA

The Who's Counting Project

United Church of Christ Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility

West Marin Study Group on Globalisation

Wisconsin Fair Trade Campaign

Women on the Border

Uruguay

Amigas de la Comunicacion Alternativa

Asociacion de Empleados y Oberos Municipales de Montevideo

Asociacion de Funcionarios de la Universidad de la Republica del Uruguay

Asociacion de Funcionarios de la Universidad Tecnica del Uruguay

Asociacion de Obreros y Empleados de CONAPROLE - Cooperative Nacional de Productores Lecheros

Centro Cooperativista Uruguayo

COMCOSUR – Cominicadores del Cono Sur

Federaci-n de Funcionarios de ANCAP - Adminstraci-n Nacional de Combustibles

Alcoholes y Cemento Portland

Federaci-n de Funcionarios de Obras Sanitarias del Estado

Federaci-n Nacional de Asociaciones de Empleados y Obreros Municipales

Federaci-n Nacional de Profesores de Ensenanza Secundaria del Uruguay

Federaci-n Uruguaya de la Salud

Intersocial Norte

Intersocial de Salinas

REDES - Friends of the Earth Uruguay

Red del Tercer Mundo

Sindicato de Artes Gráficas

Sindicato Unico de la Administraci-n Nacional de Puertos

Sindicato Unico del Instituto Nacional del Menor

Sindicato Unico de Telecomunicaciones

Social Watch

Uni-n Autonoma de Obreros y Empleados del Gas

Union Ferroviaria

Union de Trabajadores Azucareros de Artigas

International Organisations

ALOP - Associaci-n Latinoamericana de Organizaciones de Promoci-n

Anti-Globalisation Network

Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN)

 


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