Eye on Geneva: Seventh WTO Ministerial Conference, Geneva, Nov. 30-Dec. 2
On the 10th anniversary of the Seattle protests that shut down WTO negotiations in 1999, trade ministers are headed to Geneva for the 7th Ministerial Conference from November 30 to December 2, 2009. Because the talks have been deadlocked on several issues, the WTO Director General, Pascal Lamy, has already lowered expectations for the meeting to avoid yet another Ministerial failure. Under the theme, "The WTO, the Multilateral Trading System and the Current Global Economic Environment," the Ministerial will assess the WTO's "contribution" to solutions to the global crises. This emphasis would be laughable were it not so tragic, given the fact that the WTO has contributed to the economic and financial crises, and would actually exacerbate them further through proposals such as increased financial services liberalization.
In the coming days, as the spin advisories pitch the WTO as a way forward to deal with the most pressing issues of our times--unemployment, hunger, and poverty--the groups that bear the brunt of the effects, including sesocial movements, labor unions and civil society organizations, are demanding a "WTO Turnaround" and not more of the same failed policies.
Over 170 trade unionists, farmers, environmentalists, fisherfolk, consumer representatives, and development advocates will travel to Geneva for the 7th Ministerial, to ensure that their governments advocate for their interests. Even though Geneva is not a negotiating ministerial, high level officials in Geneva face constant reminders of the expectations at home with massive farmer rallies in India, fisher-people protests in Asia, and union demonstrations and lobby visits in capitals worldwide. More than 140 events celebrating the Seattle anniversary and calling for WTO turnaround are underway across the United States alone.
The Oakland Institute's Eye on Geneva will provide regular reports with independent analysis covering the latest news from inside the convention center and updates from the streets where activists and social movements will be mobilizing and organizing against the WTO.
The Battle of the Story of the "Battle in Seattle"