Global Civil Society Shares What’s at Stake at MC 11

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA—As the WTO 11th Ministerial Conference begins, global civil society representatives condemned the unprecedented and outrageous decision of the Argentine government to ban 60 civil society representatives and discussed the key issues at stake for civil society around the globe at MC11 and what a positive outcome for development would require.

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Please find below quotes from representatives global Our World Is Not For Sale (OWINFS) network delegaton of 80 civil society experts – trade unionists, farmers, development advocates, and consumer activists – from more than 30 countries who traveled to Buenos Aires for the Ministerial.

MC 11 in General and NGO Dis-accreditations:

Deborah James, Coordinator, Our World Is Not For Sale Network (OWINFS), USA:

“We condemn the decision to ban civil society from the Ministerial. Peaceful advocacy groups are still banned, from the UK, Belgium, Argentina, Uruguay, Phillippines, Hong Kong, and others.. Two people from Ecuador and Norway were actually deported in the middle of the night. None of these organizations have any history whatsoever of violence. Instead, they are CSOs with a long history of advocacy for a just global economic system. They were banned for their political views. Yet the International Chamber of Commerce, DHL, UPS, the World Economic Forum, PhRMA, the European Services Forum, and other corporate lobby groups are permitted. WTO spokesperson Keith Rockwell said that “Now we are moving on.” But the banning of accredited participants to an international meeting of a multilateral organization de-legitimizes that meeting. We regret that DG Azevêdo has unfortunately failed to display the required leadership to guarantee the integrity of the Ministerial. And we condemn this political repression by the Argentine government.”

Marita Gonzalez, Argentinian General Confederation of Workers, Argentina:

“The Argentine trade union movement stands in solidarity with the organizations that were excluded from the WTO, and in particular with Sally Burch and Petter Titland. We argue the WTO should return to the Doha Program Mandate and implement policies related to market access for the least developed countries, development cooperation, the restructuring of the world trade system in coherence with the 2030 Agenda, an agriculture mandate that benefits developing countries and a fair fishing regime that does not allow the degradation of ocean goods in favor of large corporations. The trade union movement calls for policy coherence in the UN agencies that promote decent work, the reduction of inequality and the elimination of hunger.”

Jane Kelsey, University of Auckland, New Zealand:

“Some people say this ministerial meeting is not important. In fact, it may become the watershed between addressing the unfinished development agenda from several decades and the new issues that rich countries want to form the basis of the new global rules. If the WTO is not to compound the growing legitimacy crisis confronting the global trade rules, the voices of people and the voices of developing countries need to be heard.”

Adhemar Minero, REBRIP, Brazil:

“From a Latin American perspective, there is no good possible outcome from this MC11. On one hand, having no declaration can put the multilateral system into hard trouble, and with that the possibility of transforming this system into a more “developing coutries friendly” one. On the other hand, having an agreement with the fixed agenda can represent increasing difficulties to people and development possibilities, including lack of space for public national development policies.”

On Agriculture , Fish Subsidies, and Development:

Sachin Kumar Jain, Right to Food Campaign, India:

“Developed and powerful countries want only computers, software, virus-antivirus, data and rules to rule; we want food for people, women, children, remunerative prices for farmers and employment for all with dignity. Governments are not elected to favour big corporates and unethical trade,; Governments are elected to eliminate injustice, inequality, hunder, violence and poverty. Do they remember this fact during WTO or Trade Negotiations? No one can take our food security away, unless our representatives surrender it to corporates, big and powerful. Let’s ask our governments to be humane and accountable.”

Adam Wolfendon, Pacific Network on Globalisation, Pacific Island Countries:

“We have seen from the proposals by rich industrial fishing nations that these negotiations are not about sustainability of fish stocks at all but in fact an attempt to undermine the ability of developing nations to exercise their sovereign right to manage their marine resources and remove the right of those countries to develop their own fishing fleets. The draft ministerial decision on fisheries only furthers this agenda and as such there should only be a decision to further negotiations.”

Maruf Barkat, COAST Trust, Bangladesh:

“The most primary goal of trade is to ensure food and employment for people. But what we have been seeing is trade rules are causing unemployment in poor countries and obstructing people’s access to food. This is the simplest point of view through what we want to see the MC11 of WTO. When we are setting goals for sustainable development of reducing inequality among and within the countries, we see that monopolised trade increases and sharpen the inequality between the countries. Unless the governments of Least Developed Countries are fully allowed to plan and implement their own domestic regulation to protect their small businesses and people’s interest, the trade rules of WTO will not be able to go in favour of people’s interest.”

Isolda Agazzi, Alliance Sud, Switzerland:

“It is shameful that Switzerland and the United States continue to oppose the renewal of the moratorium on the filing of TRIPS non-violation complaints. Without this moratorium, countries could challenge anothers’ laws that provide access to generic medicines, educational exceptions to copyrights and other development concerns, even when no provision of the TRIPs agreement had been violated. So far, this moratorium has been renewed every two years despite opposition from these two countries, who are calling for an end to it so as to avoid the proliferation of «frivolous» laws that would jeopardize intellectual property. Switzerland and the United States should not stand in the way of renewing this moratorium.”
On Data and E-Commerce:

Beatriz Busaniche,Vía Libre, Argentina

“Binding rules at the WTO are dangerous. If our data is not treated with clear privacy rules, it makes citizens very vulnerable. These are issues at stake at this meeting. Another delicate issue that is not addressed enough is the proposal to prohibit governments from requiring access to companies’ source code. This generates problems of public security and national security, blocks local businesses ability to compete, and complicates efforts to protect consumers and safeguard constitutional guarantees.”

Parminder Jeet Singh, IT for Change, India

“Data concerns privacy rights but is also a matter of social and economic resources that belong to people, communities and individuals. They have individual and collective ownership rights over data. “Data is local” and should be managed locally, and nationally, before we bring the issue to international trade venues. This is why we say: ‘No to e-commerce at the WTO’. Before we talk about ‘free flow of data’, we must discuss ‘ownership of data’.