International civil society rejects WTO Doha outcome and manipulative process
More than 100 NGOs and social movements, participating in a post-Doha meeting on the WTO in Brussels on 7-9 December, have condemned the WTO’s Doha Ministerial Conference for being a development disaster (‘Everything But Development’). They were also appalled by the highly manipulative tactics used by major powers and the WTO Secretariat to push through a Declaration which lacks public legitimacy.
These views were expressed in the first joint statement by NGOs and social movements since Doha, reproduced below.
INTERNATIONAL civil society represented by the undersigned NGOs and social movements, having assessed the process and outcome of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha, reject the legitimacy of the Doha Ministerial Declaration as the result of an outrageous process of manipulation that is totally unacceptable for an international organisation.
‘Everything But Development’ outcome
The results of Doha have been shamelessly touted by developed countries and the Secretariat as a ‘development agenda’ or a ‘development Round’. In our view, nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, the Doha Declaration and its work programme can best be called ‘Everything But Development.’ It is a development disaster.
The Declaration has committed the WTO to negotiate agreements on the four ‘Singapore issues’ (investment, competition, transparency in government procurement, trade facilitation) after the Fifth Ministerial - despite the opposition of a large number of developing countries and thousands of NGOs and social movements worldwide. By advancing the march of these topics into the WTO system, Doha has brought nearer a development disaster of great proportions as the proposed new agreements would close off many development policies and possibilities and result in re-colonisation and unprecedented powers to global corporations at the expense of sovereignty and people’s rights and needs.
Fortunately several developing countries, at the last moment, were able to obtain a compromise in the form of a Chairman’s statement that an explicit consensus is needed before negotiations can proceed on the four issues. We believe that this statement is the authoritative decision on the Singapore issues. We call on all governments in the discussions ahead to reject the start of negotiations and to remove these issues from the WTO.
The Doha Ministerial Declaration also:
(a) does not make any significant progress on developing countries’ implementation concerns, and thus the immense problems arising from the existing WTO agreements will intensify;
(b) does not make a real commitment to reduce agriculture subsidies and dumping of artificially cheap food exports to developing countries, and does not offer meaningful protection to Third World farmers, thus enabling the decimation of farmers’ livelihoods;
(c) does not resolve any of the negative consequences of the TRIPS Agreement, including biopiracy and prevention of the fulfilment of basic consumer rights, despite the political statement on TRIPS and public health (which does not add legally to the rights of states to take public health measures);
(d) launches negotiations for market access on industrial products which will pressurise developing countries to further reduce their tariffs, and threaten many with further deindustrialisation, closure of local firms and job losses;
(e) facilitates the liberalisation and privatisation of natural resources such as water in the guise of eliminating barriers to environmental goods and services, and this threatens people’s rights worldwide to water and other natural resources.
(f) reduces and trivialises substantial development concerns as matters of technical assistance and ‘capacity building’ in an attempt to push developing countries on to negotiations.
Manipulative tactics and discriminatory process must be condemned
The major reason for the disastrous outcome was the manipulative and discriminatory process that has brought more shame to the WTO, its Secretariat and the major developed countries.
A vast number of developing countries had opposed negotiations on the new issues and industrial tariffs as well as the establishment of a Trade Negotiations Committee and a ‘single undertaking’. This opposition was clear before and at Doha. And yet, their views were consistently brushed aside and in the end the countries were pressurised to accept a Declaration which did not reflect their positions.
A set of manipulative tactics and non-transparent, undemocratic processes was planned and used by the WTO Secretariat and the major countries to push through the interests of the latter.
Before Doha, the manipulations included:
(a) The production of two drafts of the Declaration by the Chairman of the General Council and the Director General that mainly reflected the developed countries’ views and did not contain the positions of most developing countries, despite their many protests and specific proposals.
(b) The transmission of a draft Declaration to Doha by the General Council Chairman and the WTO Director-General despite the protests of many developing countries that their views were not reflected; and their demands for at least an annex or cover letter to reflect their views were also totally ignored;
(c) The tactic of conducting consultations in which views of Members were sought but only the views of one set of countries were presented in a Draft Declaration that did not contain options or show the differences of views, and thus pretended to be a consensus text, thereby putting developing countries at a grave disadvantage at Doha.
At Doha, the manipulations included:
(a) The undemocratic and untransparent appointment by the Conference Chairman of six ‘friends of the Chair’ as ‘facilitators’ with powers to consult and draft on selected contentious issues. All the ‘facilitators’ came from the pro-New Round camp of countries. No rationale or criteria for the discriminatory selecting of the facilitators nor approval for the system was sought before hand.
(b) The facade of conducting consultation on various issues was maintained, but again the views of a majority of developing countries (especially on not wanting negotiations on the new issues) were ignored in the two new drafts of the Ministerial Declaration that were produced in Doha.
(c) The holding of a final Green Room meeting for only 24 countries on the night of 13 November which lasted till 5am during which intense pressure was applied to countries opposing the new issues. The criteria of which countries were chosen, why, by who, and the process of negotiations in the ‘Green Room’ were not agreed to or known.
(d) The production of an avalanche of drafts and texts during the Conference, without any transparent process as to who produced them, and on what basis; and the emergence of a ‘final draft’ on 14 November which countries were pressured to accept.
(e) The intense time pressure which the developing countries were put under, forcing them to accept decisions for which they had no or little time to consider properly.
(f) A combination of ‘carrots and sticks’ and the misuse of economic and political power by developed countries applied to several developing countries was also part of the pressures.
Given the above processes, the outcome of Doha, especially the Ministerial Declaration and the work programme, does not have public legitimacy.
We condemn the non-transparent, discriminatory and rule-less or arbitrary methods and processes presided over by the WTO Director-General and the Secretariat and directed by the major developed countries. Such behaviour and processes are particularly disgraceful for an international organisation that boasts that its core principles are transparency, non-discrimination and the rule of law.
We therefore commit ourselves to raise public awareness worldwide on the disastrous implications of the Doha outcome, and the processes of shame that produced the outcome.
We also commit ourselves to fight against the disastrous aspects of the post-Doha work programme of the WTO and against the undemocratic nature of the WTO system.
We reaffirm the principle that the world is not for sale and our priority to promote people’s rights worldwide and to protect Nature. The world trading system, and the world economic system in general, must serve people, especially the poor, and not continue to be distorted to serve big corporations and an elite minority.
Organisations supporting or endorsing this statement (as on 20 December 2001):
Africa Trade Network
Afro-Asian Institute (Austria)
Alliance of Progressive Labour (Philippines)
Arab NGO Network for Development
Asia Indigenous WomenÕs Network
Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network Limited
Awami Committee (Pakistan)
Begegnungszentrum fuer aktive Gewaltlosigkeit (Austria)
Berne Declaration (Switzerland)
Blueridge Institute (Switzerland)
Caribbean Gender and Trade Network
Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action
Centre for Study of Global Trade System and Development (India)
Chile Sustentable (Chile)
Citizens of Lee Environmental Action Network -CLEAN (USA)
CNOC-Via Campesina (Guatemala)
Coalition for Jobs and the Environment (USA)
Collectif des ONG au Lebanon (Lebanon)
ConsumersÕ Association of Penang (Malaysia)
Council of Canadians (Canada)
Cumberland Countians for Peace and Justice (USA)
DAWN Southeast Asia
Development VISIONS (Pakistan)
DevilÕs Fork Trail Club (USA)
Drug Study Group -DSG (Thailand)
Earths Rights Institute (USA)
Finnish WTO Campaign (Finland)
Focus on the Global South
Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy (USA)
Friends of the Earth England, Wales, N.Ireland
Friends of the Earth Finland
Friends of the Earth Malaysia/Sahabat Alam Malaysia
Friends of the Earth Netherlands
Friends of the Earth Norway
FSPI-Via Campesina (Indonesia)
Fundacion Solon (Bolivia)
GATT Watchdog (New Zealand)
German Worldshop Association (Germany)
Global Exchange (USA)
Groupo de Reflexion Rural (Argentina)
IBON Foundation (Philippines)
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy IATP (USA)
Institute for Cultural Ecology
Institute for Sustainable Development (Ethiopia)
Institute for the Relocalisation of the Economy (France)
Institute of Science in Society (UK)
Instituto del Tercer Mundo (Uruguay)
Integrated Rural Development Foundation (Philippines)
International Gender and Trade Network Asia
International South Group Network
Karnataka State Farmer’s Association -KRRS (India)
Legal Research and Resource Center for Human Rights
Living Education Center for Ecology and the Arts (USA)
Low Income Families Together -LIFT (Canada)
National Working Group on Patent Laws (India)
Organic Producers and Processors Association (Zambia)
Patrick Environmental Awareness Group (USA)
Pesticide Action Network -Colombia
Pesticide Action Network -Latin America
Polaris Institute (Canada)
Red de Permacultura Mexico Rural Reconstruction Alumni and Friends Association (Thailand)
Save the Redwoods/Boycott the Gap Campaign (USA)
Taking Responsibility for the Earth and the Environment -TREE (USA)
The Edmonds Institute (USA)
The Clinch Coalition (USA)
The CornerHouse (UK)
Third World Network
Transnational Institute (The Netherlands)
Union Nacional Ecologica y Social (Venezuela)
United Church of Christ (USA)
Virginians for Wilderness (USA)
Virginia Forest Watch (USA)
World Economy, Ecology and Development ÐWEED (Germany)
World Fisherfolks Forum WFFP Sri Lanka
World Fisherfolks Forum WFFP Uganda
World Forum of Fisher Peoples WFFP India
World Rainforest Movement (Uruguay)
Individuals supporting or endorsing this statement (as on 20 December 2001):
James M Nordlund
Julie Carlson, University for Peace consultant, Costa Rica
Margaret Wisner, Canada
Tim Quigley, University of Saskatchewan, Canada