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WTO action in Dublin

Ian McDonald | 11.11.2001 19:38

Activists in Dublin mark International Day of Action Against the WTO

International Day of Action against the WTO: Dublin.

"The people who protested basically represent the world's silent majority"
-Michael Maue, Trade Secretary for Papua New Guinea, Seattle, Nov 1999.

Nov 10, 2001: Two years ago this month, the Third Ministerial of the World Trade Organisation in Seattle ended in failure due to the refusal of third world governments to be bullied by the west - and due to the 50 000 people in streets calling for an end to capitalism accelerating maddly out of control.

This weekend sees the Fourth Ministerial of the WTO meeting attempts to do exactly what they failed to do in Seattle: start a new round of talk towards a world order in which principles "free trade" reign ever more supreme over all consideration of human rights, democracy, environmental consequences and anything else that may require bulldozing to guarantee the rights of corporations. Conveniently this meeting - "Seattle, Part II" - is being held the in the gulf state of Qatar, said to be less than tolerant of dissent.

Globalise Resistance Dublin therefore called for action on the streets of Dublin. We were to meet on O'Connal Bridge, the very center of the city, with placards carrying the words of people from the Global South, distributing leaflets and gathering signatures, confronting the system by engaging the public.

Many different groups were represented, although our numbers were thin. A great opportunity lost perhaps, but I think this simply refelects a preoccupation with the growing anti-war campaign.

Yet our presence was felt. People take leaflets wondering what the WTO is about, and stop to read the quotes that line the bridge. We collect signatures, distribute leaflets, decry the "War against the poor", and discuss the issues with all who are curious.

Walking then across the bridge, our placards read:

"...devastation for local
industry and a
slow painful death for
the poor, exploited
and oppressed"
- Rita Baua, The Philippines (on the effects of
WTO policy in the Philippines and elsewhere).

-Peoples Street Conference Against Imperialist
Globalisation,The Phillipines

"Let us then hold protests all
over the world to give notice to
the powers-that-be that we shall
fight thier renewed attempts to
Suck the lifeblood out of our
economies and consign our
peoples to a life of hunger, want
and desperation"
- RitaBaua, ThePhillipines (on the WTO agenda)

"WTO rules offer them
protectionism from the
people and insulation from
democracy, and it is people
and democracy that the
elite are most afraid of"
-Vandana Shiva, India

"...devastation for
local industry and a
slow painful death for
the poor, exploited
and oppressed"
-Rita Baua,The Phillipines (on the effect of
WTO policy on The Philippines and elsewhere).

"We denounce and reject the
globalisation of the Neo-liberal model as
endemocratic, pillaging
and genocidal..."
-Peoples of the AmericasBuilding Alternatives
To Neoliberalism"

"There is much
bitterness, especially in
the thought that any
opportunities that may
come will be taken by
the rich"
-resident, Hashour Villange, Eqypt

[Why simply resident? Is this just another nameless peasant? In fact, the name is lost only because I messed up when copying the quote (from the World Bank website of all places). Perhaps bitterly emblematic of the whole project of representing and inevitable, misrepresenting, voices of people so far beyond my own experience. But solidarity across such distance can only be built slowly, and surely silence is itself far more grievious misrepresentation.]


[which, presumably, is a reference to the public health implications of the TRIPS agreement]

And these quotes are acompanied by leaflets reading:


Voices from the South on the
World Trade Organisation:
( Which meets this weekend in Doha, Qatar to negotiate for extendeding the rules governing global trade, which it ruthlessly enforces).

"Our future is doomed if we allow [today's meeting of] the WTO to carry out its terroristic agenda: the destruction of the sovereignty of nations and the peoples of the world, the wanton plunder of resources and complete domination of markets to extract the utmost profit."
-Rita Baua, the Philippines

"Our national elites have declared themselves "natural allies" of global corporations and are trying to transfer all our ecological and social wealth from the people to business and industry… They want and need W.T.O. because the W.T.O. rules offer them protectionism from the people and insulation from democracy, and it is people and democracy that the elite are most afraid of."
- Vandana Shiva, India

"Today, what we have are not parables, but an avalanche of economic crimes, scores of landgrabbing, perpetual loss of jobs and perennial trade deficits due to heavy importation and one-sided trade affairs"
- Rodolfo Sambajon, the Philippines

"We denounce and reject the globalization of the Neo-liberal model as exclusive, undemocratic, exploitative, pillaging and genocidal..."
- Peoples of the Americas Building Alternatives to Neo-Liberalism

More information:
(Accompanied by an "Our world is not for sale" graphic.)


The WTO...
... tramples labour and human rights (enforcing only the rights of companies to sell products regardless of the conditions in which they were made).

... is an ever strengthening bill of rights for multinational corporations (at a time when more that ever, trade rules should be protecting people from the multinationals)

... is increasing inequality (example: the Third World looses IRE1.7 Billion per day due to unfair trade - UN statistic)

... is a stacked, secretive court (where unelected judges meet behind closed doors with the power to enforce rules that superceed and all but ignore all human rights, labour standards, and environmental agreements)

... threatens public health (as indeed all public services are threatened as WTO rules remove the power of govenrments to regulate them).

... restricts poor peoples access to medicine, seeds, and food (in its inflexible enforcement of intellectualy property rights).

... is undemocratic & unaccountable (it was establised this way and is run this way).

[based, quite loosely, on an article by Juliette Beck and Kevin Danaher]


A small step towards a greater solidarity with the South perhaps, but I think I see a way forward here.

Ian McDonald
Nov 10 2001

Ian McDonald
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Display the following 5 comments

  1. cheap drugs now — path
  2. It was a pity the numbers were small — shane
  3. I Agree — Kevolution
  4. — irishvidhead
  5. More input from members of GR the answer? — Finghín Kelly