WTO talks marred by civil society ban, repressions
Buenos Aires, 13 December 2017: The latest round of World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks in Buenos Aires on 10-13 December has been marred by civil society bans, police repressions and secret negotiations, according to Friends of the Earth International, the world’s largest grassroots environmental network.
The talks ended today amid large-scale street protests led by social movements. Over the course of negotiations, trade officials failed to reach a deal.
Alberto Villarreal, spokesperson on trade at Friends of the Earth Latin America and the Caribbean, who was banned from attending the meeting by the Argentine government, along with many other accredited civil society activists, said:
“The WTO meeting was marred by an undemocratic civil society ban, secret negotiation rooms and political deportations. The chaos shows we need a new trade model that puts peoples’ rights and planet at the centre.
“Social movements have repeatedly called for the WTO to get out of the food and agriculture spheres. The WTO favours the interests of agribusiness, while failing to allow protection for peasant and indigenous farmers through programmes such as public stockholding.”
Karin Nansen, Friends of the Earth International Chairperson said:
“Inside, the official WTO negotiations were once again undemocratic as they were closed to many delegates of civil society organizations and movements. Outside, a democratic forum of social movements and a massive march strongly expressed peoples’ determination to fight against the free trade dogma that privileges corporate interests against food sovereignty and the commons.
“The WTO continues to stagger on like wounded beast the negotiations in Buenos Aires were another example of the failed of corporate trade model.”
Ernst-Christoph Stolper, Friends of the Earth Germany/ BUND Vice President and member of the Executive Committee of Friends of the Earth Europe, who attended the meeting said:
“Instead of supporting food sovereignty and fighting against overfishing, it strives to expand its deregulation agenda to new areas like E-commerce in the interest of big data companies like Google and Amazon. While all over the world people discuss how to curb the power of these companies, the WTO wants to handcuff all who strive for data localisation, open source code or an appropriate taxation.”
Notes for editors
- WTO ministerial documents issued 13 December 2017: https://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/minist_e/mc11_e/documents_e.htm
- Friends of the Earth International press statement on WTO civil society ban, issued 1 December 2017: https://www.foei.org/features/wto-talks-legitimacy-undermined-argentina-blocks-civil-society-attendance
Friends of the Earth spokespeople available for comment (in English, Spanish, French and German):
Sam Cossar-Gilbert/ +61 403 145 167 / sam.cossargilbert[at]foe.org.au
Alberto Villarrea/ +598 985 563 60/ comercioredes[at]gmail.com
Ernst-Christoph Stolper/ +49 172 290 3751/ ec.stolper[at]t-online.de
For general press enquiries:
Julia Karlysheva/ julia[at]foei.org
Image: Cobertura colaborativa Fuera OMC