January 30, 2001 – ‘The Public Eye on Davos’ meeting has been a great success. Although the police prevented peaceful protest, the real challenge for economic globalisation is the new issues being discussed by people worldwide. We need more from the economy than never-ending growth which is destroying the environment whilst further enriching the already wealthy.

Both “The Public Eye on Davos”, an independent NGO conference parallel to the World Economic Forum in Davos and the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, were a great success. “Both public fora have challenged the legitimacy and the policies of the World Economic Forum. NGO representatives highlighted the failure of economic globalisation and put forward alternative ideas for a truly equitable and democratic economic system that respects environmental limits”, said Miriam Behrens from Pro Natura – Friends of the Earth Switzerland. Amid the din of global triumphalism, the critical truth spoken at the ‘Public Eye on Davos’ was heard clearly – inside and outside the forum.

The 2001 Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum now draws to a close. The “Public Eye on Davos” coalition is not impressed by the glamour and the rhetorical commitments to social and environmental responsibility and dialogue which are again emanating from the WEF’s police fortress in Davos. “NGOs will continue to challenge corporate roadshows like the WEF which commit to social responsibility in public while promoting the policies of economic globalization behind closed doors”, says Jolanda Piniel of the Swiss advocacy group, the Berne Declaration.

“The business fat-cats of the WEF consistently undermine social justice and environmental protection. We will continue to judge economic and political decision-makers by their actions, and not by the propaganda of the Davos Forum. We will continue campaigning for international binding regulations for corporations that are negotiated in an internationally legitimate forum like the United Nations. “, comments Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth International.

The World Economic Forum was marked by ‘police state’ methods which have so far been unknown in Switzerland. Many peaceful citizens were denied access to Davos because they were carrying the “Public Eye on Davos” program. Adam Ma’anit of Corporate Europe Observatory, a speaker at the “Public Eye” conference, was temporarily detained and almost deported by the Swiss police. Vandana Shiva, the Alternative Nobel Prize laureate from India and a participant of both the WEF and the “Public Eye”, was beaten by the police when she took part in a peaceful demonstration on 27 January in Davos.

“The politics of privilege and exclusion which typify economic globalization have finally hit Davos. The civil rights of a majority have been violated to protect the rights of a privileged few”, says Peter Bosshard of the Berne Declaration. The Swiss organizers of the ‘Public Eye’ conference are seeking legal advice on behalf of those denied their human rights to protest, assemble and speak freely. We want to ensure that police repression against public debate of globalization policies cannot happen again.

For further information:
Jolanda Piniel, Berne Declaration, 079 478 91 94 (or 079 339 37 01)
Tony Juniper, Friends of the Earth/International, 0044 7712 843 207
Peter Bosshard, Berne Declaration, 01 277 70 07
Miriam Behrens, Pro Natura ñ Friends of the Earth Switzerland, 079 216 02 06

The Public Eye on Davos was a joint project of The Berne Declaration (coordination), Asociacion Latinoamericana de Organizaciones de Promocion, Focus on the Global South, Friends of the Earth International, Genetic Resources Action International, Network Women in Development Europe, Pro Natura (Swiss affiliate of FoEI), Tebtebba Foundation, World Development Movement.