November 1, 2001 – In the run up to the WTO’s 4th Ministerial conference, to be held in the Gulf State of Qatar from 9-13 November 2001, citizens’ groups around the world are organising hundreds of events around the world, between the 3rd and 13th of December, to show continued widespread opposition to the launch of a new trade round.

Activities are planned across all continents, including in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia and Turkey. Activities will be diverse and colourful and include public fora, teach-ins, trade parades, demonstrations, street theatre etc. [1]

In addition, a World Forum on the WTO will start today in Beirut to bring together labour unions, women’s groups, environmentalists, youth activists, and civil society organizations for three days of meetings, workshops, teach-ins, and cultural events. On Saturday, thousands of people marched in the streets of London at the Trade Justice Parade.

Civil society groups have organised these decentralised actions, bringing their critique of the WTO home to their capitals and local communities, in response to the location of the WTO Ministerial in Doha, Qatar, a venue that severely restricts civil society access and public participation.

In Seattle, tens of thousands of citizens from around the world protested against the WTO and made a call of “No New Round, Turnaround.” [1] Since then the anti-corporate globalization movement has grown in depth, diversity and size, with people across the world coming together to call for a sustainable, equitable and democratic trading system. [2]

Despite this public outcry, many governments are pursuing a business as usual agenda. In particular, the EU, US, Japan and Canada are pushing hard to launch a new round, bringing new and controversial issues into the WTO, even those this is opposed by much of civil society and many developing countries.

[1] To view a list and details of world wide events and to view the statement go to Focus on the Global Souths homepage.

[2] Hundreds of groups are united in their concerns and demands and have signed the global ‘Our World is Not for Sale: WTO: Shrink or Sink” statement. The statement calls for a rollback of the power of the WTO and for a fundamental revision of trade rules. The statement incorporates eleven specific demands which include no expansion of the WTO’s agenda, protecting basic social rights and needs from the WTO, stopping corporate patent protection and ensuring access to medicines and seeds, banning patenting of life, recognising food as a basic human right and stopping the agriculture agreement fraud and calamity, eliminating the investment measures agreement, ensuring special and differential treatment of developing countries, prioritising social rights and the environment and democratising decision-making.

More and more people around the world are living the negative consequences of a corporate globalization agenda – already today the implementation of WTO agreements is leading to increasing inequalities, threats to livelihoods of farmers, workers, women and children, the survival of small farms and enterprises, the erosion of democracy, dangers to food security, misappropriation of traditional knowledge of local communities through ‘biopiracy’ and the undermining of local, national and international social and environmental regulations.