Stop Corporate Globalization: Another World is Possible!

(http://www.ourworldisnotforsale.org/)

INTRODUCTION: OUR
CHALLENGE
«Our World Is Not for Sale» is a
worldwide network of organizations; activists and social movements
committed to challenging trade and investment agreements that
advance the interests of the world’s most powerful corporations at
the expense of people and the environment.

Against this process of corporate-led globalization, we pose the
vision of a global economy that is built on principles of economic
justice, ecological sustainability, and democratic accountability,
one that asserts the interests of people over corporations. This is
an economy built around the interests of the real producers and
consumers, such as workers, peasants, family farmers, fishers,
small and medium sized producers, and around the needs of those
marginalized by the current system, such as women and indigenous
people.

We believe that a just system must protect, not undermine,
cultural, biological, economic and social diversity; put the
emphasis on the development of healthy local economies and trade;
secure internationally recognized environmental, cultural, social
and labour rights; support the sovereignty and self-determination
of peoples; and protect national and sub-national democratic
decision-making processes.

Democracy is not simply a matter of holding elections. 
Democracy means not being on the receiving end of a top-down,
one-size-fits-all set of values, priorities, and policies that are
imposed through multilateral bodies, such as the World Trade
Organization (WTO).  Democracy means not being subjected to
non-transparent and non-accountable decision-making, such as the
WTO’s dispute settlement processes.  Democracy means people
taking control over forces directly impacting their lives.

When the WTO was established in 1995, its preamble stated that its
purpose was to bring about greater prosperity, increase employment,
reduce poverty, diminish inequality, and promote sustainable
development around the world through greater «free trade». Ten
years later it is clear that the WTO has not delivered on these
goals and has had exactly the opposite results.

The WTO trade regime has counteracted measures that would promote
development, alleviate poverty, and help ensure human and
ecological survival, both locally and globally. Under the guise of
«free trade», WTO rules are used to force open new markets and
bring them under the control of transnational corporations.

Furthermore, the big trading powers have used the WTO to advance
and consolidate transnational corporate control of economic and
social activities in areas beyond trade, including development,
investment, competition, intellectual property rights, the
provision of social services, environmental protection and
government procurement.
 
Large-scale liberalization in these areas will force developing
countries to relinquish many of the economic development tools that
industrialized countries used to build their economies and create
jobs. Furthermore, existing provisions of the WTO, as well as ones
currently being negotiated, would effectively ‘lock in’ the
«structural adjustment programs» of the World Bank and
International Monetary Fund.

Moreover, in advancing the interests of the big trading powers, the
methods of governance and decision-making that are used in the WTO
are notorious for their reliance on threat, deception, manipulation
and lack of transparency in an undemocratic and non-inclusive
process.
It is the destructive social, political, and environmental
consequences of the pro-corporate, neo-liberal model of
globalization that has elicited rising resistance from a broad
range of civil society organizations and social movements around
the world, including at WTO summits in Seattle, Doha, Cancun and
Hong Kong.

Our World is not for Sale is part of this global resistance.

Ten years after the founding of the WTO, it has become clear to us
that the possibilities of the WTO moving in the direction of
positive reforms are minimal, if not absent.  Change is
absolutely necessary.  At the moment we have a system
where:

  • livelihoods are being destroyed, human rights ignored, public
    health endangered, the environment plundered and democratic systems
    eroded;
  • local economies are being undermined, with workers, peasants,
    family farmers, fishers, consumers, women and indigenous peoples
    being especially disadvantaged and exploited;
  • governments’ ability to guarantee access to the essentials of
    life, promote health, safety and food sovereignty, and protect
    cultural and biological diversity is being undermined and sometimes
    eliminated.

Around the world, the negative results of the current global
economic system are propelling democratic movements – acting via
the ballot box and in the streets – to demand change. Elected
officials in many countries have lost faith in the current system
of global economic governance.  Increasingly, a number of
economists and technocrats who created and espoused this system are
beginning to question it, as its results prove quite the opposite
of those promised. All this is taking place in the context of
growing inequality both between and within nations and a resurgence
of militarism.

The efforts of the WTO to forcibly liberalize global trade in a
manner that harms economic justice, social well-being, gender
equity and ecological sustainability, must be resisted. Its power
and authority must be rolled back from many areas where it has been
imposed, including agriculture, services, and intellectual property
rights.

At the same time, we must devise new institutions to facilitate
trade, production and distribution for the common good if we are to
avoid the growing prospect of social and ecological
catastrophe.

The current trade regime, which includes the WTO, as well as
regional and bilateral trade and investment agreements, must give
way to a new, socially just and ecologically sustainable trading
framework for the 21st Century.

OUR GOALS

Since 1998, members of the OWINFS network have combined to share
analysis, develop strategies and coordinate actions internationally
in order to promote the development of alternative, just and
sustainable economies.

We are committed to developing a new, democratically accountable
trading system that advances economic justice, social well-being,
gender equity and ecological sustainability, and that provides
decent jobs and necessary goods and services for all people.

We support the development of vibrant local economies and the
rights of workers, peasants, migrants, family farmers, consumers,
women, and indigenous people.  We believe that the
self-determination of people must not be subordinated to
international commercial commitments. Among other things, this
requires that decision-making processes and enforcement at all
levels of governance are democratic, transparent and
inclusive.

We recognize that a socially just international trading system must
give priority to the rights and welfare of the workers, peasants,
migrants, fishers, and family farmers who produce our goods,
services, and food.

We call on governments and multilateral agencies to halt their
attacks on basic workers rights, the reversal of the gains of
workers’ struggles, the undermining of job security and the
race-to-the-bottom in wages and to strengthen workers’ rights
worldwide.

We oppose trade liberalisation agreements and negotiations that
encourage taking away access to natural resources from those
indigenous and local communities that depend on them for their
livelihoods and giving such access instead to corporations.

Other fundamental human rights must also be respected, promoted and
realized, starting with the self-determination of indigenous
peoples and the provision of basic social needs and services,
including education, food security and sovereignty, universal
access to clean water for human use and public health.

Likewise, ecological integrity must be a goal of a transformed
global trading system.  This means, among other things, that
corporate trade and investment must be regulated to reverse global
warming; multilateral environmental accords must have precedence
over trade agreements; environmental standards must not be pulled
downward by trade accords; and the right of people to reject
genetically modified organisms, to preserve old growth forests and
farmers’ diverse seed stocks, and promote  animal welfare,
must be respected.

WHAT WE STAND
FOR

Asserting People’s Right to Choose: Self-determination,
Democracy and Development

We reassert the fundamental right of countries to develop
economic and industrial policies that foster genuine economic
development, create decent jobs and protect livelihoods, and
enhance the environment. All countries, and especially poorer
countries, must have the right to use policy options (such as local
content policies) to increase the capacity of their own productive
sectors, particularly small and medium enterprises.  Countries
must also preserve their ability («policy space») to shape economic
social and environmental development strategies that serve the most
vulnerable of their people. The drive for «coherence» among the
international institutions has become a means to deny that policy
space: the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and some
individual donor countries force governments to implement
neo-liberal policies and the WTO and other trade and investment
agreements lock these policies in.
Therefore:

  • Our World Is Not For Sale demands an end to the secretive and
    coercive practices that have become the hallmark of trade
    negotiations, especially at the WTO, where a few powerful
    governments, often acting on behalf of their corporate elites, are
    able to coerce weaker governments to achieve their goals.
  • The dismantling of tariffs and other trade measures must not be
    allowed to put local economies, especially those of poorer
    countries and/or poor economic sectors, at the mercy of
    transnational corporations, and threaten local economic
    development, labour laws and standards, public and consumer health
    and safety, and the environment.
  • «Free trade» negotiations in the WTO and elsewhere cannot be
    allowed to continue operating as a Trojan Horse to secure
    pro-corporate rules on investment, competition, government
    procurement, market access, agricultural production, domestic
    regulation of services and intellectual property rights. Neither
    can the current power dynamics, in which the rich industrialised
    countries force their economic agenda on poorer countries, be
    allowed to continue.
  • The use of structural adjustment and debt conditionality to
    force trade liberalization in third world countries and elsewhere
    must end. The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the
    regional development banks need to write off all the debts owed to
    them by developing/transition countries so those countries can
    reallocate these funds to meet the urgent needs of their
    people.

Advancing the Primacy of Social Rights and the
Environment

We believe that protecting and advancing social rights, meeting
basic needs, and protecting our environment are essential to life.
It is unacceptable that these can be undermined by WTO and other
‘trade’ agreement rules.
Therefore:

• Any trade and investment agreements must not have
primacy over, or undermine, international agreements which promote
social, economic and environmental justice, including but not
limited to:

 

  • the International Labor Organization (ILO) Declaration on
    Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (covering the four core
    labour standards);
  • the Convention on Biodiversity and its Biosafety Protocol, and
    other multilateral environmental agreements;
  • the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights and its
    associated conventions: the International Covenant on Economic,
    Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil
    and Political Rights;
  • the  anticipated United Nations Declaration of the Rights
    of Indigenous Peoples;
  • the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of
    Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); and
  • the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of
    All  Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families
  • Governments must retain the sovereign right to determine how to
    regulate services in ways that meet the needs of their people,
    economy and society, and that honour their other international and
    constitutional obligations, including to women, indigenous peoples,
    the young, the elderly and the poor.
  • The right of governments to adopt the precautionary principle
    to protect public health, the environment, and agriculture from
    unknown risks must take precedence over any trade agreements and
    provisions.
  • Tariff reductions that harm the environment or sustainable
    development by increasing inappropriate trade in natural resources
    and other environmentally sensitive goods should not be
    undertaken.
  • The undermining of the United Nations by the pro-corporate
    Bretton Woods institutions, the WTO, and the big powers must be
    stopped, and the UN system of agreements and agencies must be
    strengthened

Protecting Essential Services

We endorse the fundamental principle that no trade or
investment agreement should infringe on the sovereignty of
governments to guarantee access to the essentials of life, to
promote the health and well being of their people, and to protect
the environment.
Therefore:

  • Countries should not be pressured to accede to trade rules that
    diminish this ability, whether through the WTO’s General Agreement
    on Trade in Services (GATS) or through regional or bilateral
    agreements.
  • Sectors directly relating to such essentials, including health,
    education, cultural/audio-visual, social assistance, water and
    energy services, must be explicitly excluded from all trade and
    investment agreements.
  • Rules concerning Domestic Regulation, Subsidies and Government
    Procurement of services by their very nature impinge on this
    ability and should not be included in trade and investment
    agreements.

Countries are facing enormous pressure to subject their
essential services to GATS rules which have the effect of promoting
privatization. Further, when commitments made under these rules are
adopted by countries that have been or are being subjected to
deregulation and privatization of their essential services through
«structural adjustment» requirements, the GATS rules serve to lock
in privatization. In this way GATS promotes the opening up of local
markets to transnational corporations and the advancement of the
neo-liberal economic model.
Therefore:

  • These «structural adjustment» requirements must be rolled back,
    not locked in, and must not be a condition for countries receiving
    new loans or grants, nor should countries be pressured to subject
    their essential services to GATS rules.

Defending Knowledge, Culture and Life Forms as the
Essence of Civilization

We see knowledge, culture and education as the driving
forces of civilization.  These forces cannot be reduced to
tradeable commodities or private property.

There is no basis for inclusion of such intellectual property
claims in a trade agreement. Moreover, all nations have the
responsibility and obligation to protect the public health and
wellbeing of their people.  Current intellectual property
rules in trade pacts, such as the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related
Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), obstruct people’s
access to essential medicines, seeds and vital necessities, while
leading to private appropriation of life forms and traditional
knowledge and the destruction of biodiversity. Furthermore, they
keep poorer countries from increasing their levels of social and
economic welfare and defending their unique identity and
heritage.
Therefore,

  • Governments must retain their unfettered right to limit patent
    protection in order to protect the public interest in these areas,
    especially in relation to medicines, seeds and life forms.
  • The patenting of life forms, including microorganisms, must be
    prohibited in all national and international regimes.
  • Genuine cultural diversity must be defended against the
    homogenizing impact of global markets and monopolies over
    knowledge, technology and telecommunications.

Preserving and Advancing Food Sovereignty and Food
Security

We affirm that the right to food is a basic human right. The
WTO Agreement on Agriculture (AOA) subordinates this right to
corporate profitability.
The food system promoted by the WTO
is built on industrialized and capital-intensive, export-driven
agriculture that is furthering corporate concentration along the
food chain and undermining the livelihoods, rights, health and
living and working conditions of agricultural and food workers and
thus further undermining food security.

Moreover, it fails to recognize that farming is a way of life
and an important basis of community and culture.  Thus, its
policies and those of other trade agreements foster further
concentration and increase of power of transnational corporations
and cause the expulsion of millions of peasants and family farmers
from the land and production, in Northern and Southern countries.
Since the introduction of «structural adjustment programs» and the
establishment of the WTO, many peasants, family farmers, and
agricultural workers have been displaced from the land and
experienced hunger, with many driven into suicide, owing to import
liberalization via tariff reductions, the abolition of quantitative
restrictions and inequitable national agricultural policies .At the
same time many subsidies going to agribusiness, including
export-oriented industrial farming, have been increased rather than
reduced.

While these rules allow increasingly powerful agribusiness
trading companies to push down the commodity prices paid to farmers
worldwide, the concentration of food distribution and processing
under the WTO’s agriculture and service sector rules has led to
increased food prices for consumers.
Therefore:

  • To avoid further escalation in hunger, displacement and death,
    action must be taken immediately to curtail agricultural, trade and
    investment policies that encourage chronic overproduction and to
    ban the dumping of agricultural commodities onto world markets
    below the cost of production by global food corporations and others
    involved in global agricultural trade. Direct and indirect export
    subsidies that lead to dumping must be banned. Countries should
    retain and reassert their sovereign rights to protect their
    agricultural markets and sectors from dumping in order to implement
    measures that can effectively and actively support peasant- and
    family farmer-based sustainable production.
  • Measures must be taken to promote and protect peoples´
    food sovereignty (the right of peoples and communities to define
    their own food and agricultural policies, as well as the right to
    produce their basic foods in a manner that respects cultural and
    productive diversity and supports peasant- and family farmer-based
    sustainable production) and food safety and security (both for
    consumers and producers).
  • Measures that only concern production for domestic consumption
    and do not contribute to increased exports to international markets
    should be exempted from any international trade agreement. The
    trading system must not undermine the livelihood of peasants,
    family farmers, agricultural workers, artisan fishers, and
    indigenous peoples.
  • We believe that the development of food sovereignty, food
    security and peasant- and family farmer-based sustainable
    agriculture requires governments to acknowledge the flaws in the
    «free market» principles that underpin perceived comparative
    advantage, export-led agricultural development and «structural
    adjustment» policies; and replace those policies with ones that
    prioritize and protect local, subsistence and sustainable
    production, including use of import controls and regulation that
    ensure more equitable sustainable production methods.
  • Various agreements will be required to ensure these objectives.
    These could include a convention on food sovereignty and
    sustainable agriculture, and a declaration on the rights of
    peasants and family farmers. Ultimately, the WTO and other «free
    trade» agreements, with their current focus on trade liberalization
    at all costs, are not appropriate places for such rules; therefore,
    alternative spaces to discuss these rules have to be
    strengthened.

Stopping Corporate Globalization and Promoting Trade
Justice

The WTO’s trade rules, and those of many other regional trade
agreements now in existence and being negotiated, promote the power
of corporations in the global economy by providing new investor,
intellectual property and other rights. At the same time, they lock
in neo-liberal policies of privatization and deregulation.
All  this is done under the guise of «free trade». This
imbalance in power promotes the economic self-interest of a few
global economic giants, often with devastating effects on local
economies, particularly in developing countries.

Such corporate power is being ratcheted up through regional and
bilateral trade and investment agreements. Their powerful rules
promote corporate rights and pose a serious threat to local
democratic authority. Under some accords, in fact, foreign
corporations can now sue national governments for «lost profits» if
any law or regulation in the country reduces their present or
future profitability. Environmental, labour, and social rights all
become secondary to the right to corporate profits.  This
trend must be reversed.

Having successfully thwarted the Multilateral Agreement on
Investment, which would have enshrined such corporate rights, we
call for an end to the corporate strategy of promoting the rapid
and reckless expansion of regional and bilateral trade and
investment agreements that attempt to reinforce the faltering WTO.
We also call for an end to trade rules that guarantee a foreign
investor’s right to profit by exposing domestic regulatory policies
to investor challenges and demands for compensation from public
funds.

To begin moving toward a just trading system, we call on
governments to negotiate a legally binding agreement to ensure that
corporations are held democratically accountable for their conduct
with regard to their social, economic and environmental impacts,
including the role that some play in supporting repressive
political regimes and marketing of weapons. This should be done
through the UN and other appropriate bodies, with full
participation of civil society.

Further we call on civil society organizations and movements to
initiate a global civil society dialogue on developing an
alternative, just and sustainable trading framework to replace the
neo-liberal model, one that genuinely promotes pro-people and
rights-based sustainable development and that puts communities
first.

We are committed to an ecologically sustainable, socially just and
democratically accountable trade system. Thus, as a first step, we
demand that our governments implement the changes listed in this
document in order to constrain and roll back the power and
authority of the WTO, and to turn trade around and create a just
system.  We commit ourselves to mobilize people within our
home countries, regionally, and globally to fight for these demands
and to defy the unjust policies of the WTO and the broader
multilateral trading system.

The choice before us is stark: either we accept the current
corporate-centered global order and forfeit the welfare of
succeeding generations and the future of the planet itself, or we
take up the difficult challenge of moving toward a new system that
puts at its heart the interests of people, communities, and the
environment.

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