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:
Amigos de la Tierra Argentina
FOCO - Foro para la Participaci-n Ciudadana en las Politicas de Desarrollo
FOBOMADE - Foro Boliviano de Medioambiente y Desarrollo (Bolivian Environmental and Development Forum)
INESC - Instituto de Estudos S-cio-econ(tm)micos
Kanind - Associasao de Defesa Ecoambiental
Nucleo de Amigo de la Tierra - Friends of the Earth Brasil
REBRIP - Rede Brasileira pela Integraćao dos Povos
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
AGAO 'Tierra Viva'
Agrupaci-n Ecol-gica Karumapu
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
Centro de Desarrollo Susatentable, Univ. Cat-lica de Temuco
Centro de Inv. Instituto R'o Colorado
Ciclo Arbol Vida
Comit Aymara de Defensa del Medio Ambiente (CADMA)
Comit de Ecolog'a Auquilda
Consejo Ecol-gico de Educaci-n Ambiental
Corp. de Estudios Norte Grande
Familia Franciscana de Chile
Fundaci-n Instituto Indigena
Fundaci-n para la Tierra
IECh Sede Osorno
Instituto del M. Ambiente Gylania
Liga de Consumidores Conscientes
Movimiento Furiosos Ciclistas MFC
ONG Ecologia y Desarrollo
Red Nacional de Acci-n Ecol-gica
Semilla de la Nueva Humanidad
Taller de Estudios Andinos
CENSAT Agua Viva - Friends of the Earth Colombia
COECOECIBA – Friends of the Earth Costa Rica
Grupo de Objecion de Conciencia del Ecuador
COHPEDA – Friends of the Earth Haiti
DECA Equipo Pueblo, AC
Centro Humboldt - Friends of the Earth Nicaragua
Sobrevivencia - Friends of the Earth Paraguay
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
Friends of the Earth US
Front Range Fair Trade Coalition
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)
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
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 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
Uni-n Autonoma de Obreros y Empleados del Gas
Union de Trabajadores Azucareros de Artigas
ALOP - Associaci-n Latinoamericana de Organizaciones de Promoci-n
Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN)