Borba100 at Borba100 at
Thu Nov 25 06:22:49 MST 1999

by Michel Chossudovsky (posted 11-25-99)   PART ONE OF TWO
Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and author of The
Globalization of Poverty, Impacts of IMF and World Bank Reforms, Third World
Network, Penang and Zed Books, London, 1997.

[Note from : Prof. Chossudovsky grants permission
for this article to be reposted unabridged on free Internet sites or by
email. For commercial or print reproduction please contact him (see note
including copywrite at end) or contact at
emperors1000 at . Please reproduce this text in full including this

In preparing the Seattle Millennium meetings, Washington in consultation with
Brussels and the WTO in Geneva, is set on weakening and dividing social
movements and citizens' groups which have converged on Seattle from all over
the World. Meanwhile, local organizers are busy -- together with the FBI and
the Seattle Police Department (SPD)-- in carefully planning "security
arrangements" for the official venue. An extensive police apparatus has been
set motion. Special Forces from the FBI, the CIA and other federal agencies
will be on the scene. "Trouble-makers" are to be held at bay, well equipped
riot police are on hand including Gang Squads and SWAT teams of the Tactical
Operations Divisions which constitute the "more militarized components" of
the police force.1

Everything has been put in place to keep the Citizens' Summit physically
removed from the Ministerial Conference. As in previous counter-summits (Rio
de Janeiro, Madrid, Copenhagen, Beijing, etc.), the intent is to ensure that
the numerous protest meetings, teach-ins and mass rallies do not obstruct or
in any way threaten the legitimacy of the official venue. In Seattle, the
holding of parallel sessions by NGOs requires formal "accreditation" with the
Seattle Host Committee chaired by Microsoft's Bill Gates and Philip Condit of
The Boeing Company.

Several months ahead of time, the WTO and Western governments had called for
a "dialogue" with selected civil society organizations in setting the agenda
for the Millennium Round. "Partner NGOs", namely those "we can trust" were
provided with funds to travel and organize their respective "teach-ins" in
Seattle. Already last year, the WTO had announced a plan for "an on-going
collaboration with partner NGOs" while emphasizing that the WTO "recognizes
the role NGOs can play to increase the awareness of the public in respect of
WTO activities".2

Similarly, the European Commission had underscored its "commitment to
transparency and openness in trade policy-making".3

Carefully screened "partner NGOs" were invited to participate in a number of
preparatory "issue-specific" events. The European Commission held several
rounds of consultations with selected consumer, labor, environmental and
development organizations with a view to "to improve the transparency of WTO
meetings" including public access to WTO documents and the creation of an WTO
"information ombudsman".4 In the words of (former) European Trade
Commissioner Sir Leon Brittan:

"A Millennium round of trade talks should not just benefit business. We can
and should ensure that Consumers and the environment also gain. The
Commission has today opened a dialogue with a wide cross-section of NGOs as
it believes transparency and openness are essential if a new round is to reap
its full benefits. NGOs are crucial partners in preparing for the
negotiations that lie ahead." 5

Controlled and financed by official donors and research foundations, the
hidden agenda is to install a "politically correct" Citizens' Summit, namely
to ensure that the various teach-ins and public rallies in the streets of
Seattle conform to the dominant "counter discourse". The latter consists in
pressing for the inclusion of token environmental, labour and human rights
clauses, "poverty alleviation" schemes as well as "institutional reforms"
without defying the central role of trade liberalisation.

The partner non-governmental organisations have, in this regard, already
committed themselves not to question "the legality" or legitimacy of the WTO
as an institution. Accredited NGO participants have been invited to mingle in
a friendly environment with ambassadors, trade ministers and Wall Street
tycoons at several of the official events including the numerous cocktail
parties and receptions. In turn, an (official) "WTO Sponsored NGO Symposium"
is to be held for chosen NGO participants one day before the launching of the
Ministerial Conference, with carefully worded opening statements by WTO
Director General Mike Moore and US Trade Secretary Charlene Barshevsky.

In other words, the ploy in Seattle (supported by a lavish public relations
campaign) is to carefully diffuse an international mass movement directed
against the WTO and the powerful business syndicates which lie discretely in
the background. "Criticism yes, that's democratic", but the "free market"
system must prevail, the legitimacy of the institutions --including their
Geneva and Washington based bureaucracies-- must not be challenged... In
return, the official conference will accept to embody on behalf of the
"accredited" labour and civil society organisations, various token
environmental and other concessions in their main resolutions with a view to
providing a much needed "human face" to the WTO.

The Millennium Round meetings also purport to replicate the habitual parallel
"People's Summit" which now constitutes an integral component of successive
World venues. Repeated almost annually since the 1992 Rio Environment
Conference, the People's Summit while providing a forum for critical debate,
has over the years largely become "a ritual of dissent" which largely leaves
the official Summit unscathed.

The parallel P7 ("People's P7 Summit") at the G7 meetings in Cologne in June
1999, for instance, was put together in consultation with the host organisers
of the official Summit, generously funded by the Heinrich Boell Foundation
which is an arm of the German Green Party controlled by Foreign Minister
Joschka Fisher. The structure of the Cologne P7 was geared towards deflecting
debate on controversial issues including the "humanitarian bombings" of
Yugoslavia... Meanwhile, more than 20,000 people from all parts of Europe had
gathered in the streets of Cologne under the umbrella of the Jubilee
Campaign. Their petition to unconditionally erase Third World debt had been
signed by more than 17 million people. World leaders respectfully paid
tribute to the Jubilee initiative, responding with empty rhetorical
commitments on debt reduction for the World's poorest countries. The
substantive proposal of the campaign had been casually dismissed.

In Seattle, many of the accredited NGOs representing specific interests (eg.
environmental, labour, human rights, women's organisations, etc) will be
putting forth separate demands. There is evidence that several of the key
NGOs have been infiltrated by Western intelligence agencies. The
Counter-Summit is to be fragmented into a "mosaic" of secluded events
focussing on separate and distinct policy issues. The hidden agenda is to
enable each of these separate venues "to do their own thing" in a semblance
of "people's participation": the goal of the Seattle organisers is to mask
the truth, prevent the development of a mass movement, suppress real
democracy and uphold the authority of the institutions of the New World

In turn, the AFL-CIO joined by trade union bosses from around the World, has
called upon the WTO to "enforce minimum labour standards... in the global
market". Caving in to Washington's demands, Labour's buzz-word is to "make
the global economy work for working families".6 A carefully drafted petition
urges the Ministerial Conference to adopt "trade and investment rules [which]
protect workers' rights and the environment".7 The overall legitimacy of the
WTO and of US trade policy is not in question. In turn, the AFL-CIO has been
put in charge of the organisation of a mass rally which usefully serves the
purpose of deflecting the international protest movement on the streets of

In Seattle, the big divide will be between those who are genuinely opposed to
the New World Order and those "partner" civil society organisations which
have all the appearances of being "progressive" but which in fact are
creatures of the system. Often funded by their respective governments, they
form part of a politically correct "Opposition" which acts as "a spokesperson
for civil society". But who do they represent? Many of the "partner NGOs" and
lobby groups which frequently mingle with bureaucrats and politicians, have
few contacts with grass-roots social movements and people's organisations. In
the meantime, they serve to deflect the articulation of "real" social
movements against the New World Order.

This does not mean that "dialogue" with the WTO and the governments should be
ruled out as a means of negotiation. On the contrary, "lobbying" must be
applied vigorously in close liaison with constituent social movements. The
underlying results and information of these negotiations, however, must be
channelled with a view to reinforcing rather than weakening grass roots
actions. In other words, we should not allow "lobbying" to be conducted in an
isolated and secretive fashion by organisations which are "hand picked" by
the governments and the WTO.


More than 1200 groups and organisations from more than 85 countries have
called for a "Moratorium" on further liberalisation under WTO auspices
including the holding of an "Audit" to be undertaken on the impacts of
globalisation. Their consensus statement ("Statement From Members of
International Civil Society Opposing A Millennium Round"):

"oppose[s] any further liberalisation negotiations, especially those which
will bring new areas under the WTO regime, such as investment, competition
policy and government procurement. We commit ourselves to campaign to reject
any such proposals. We also oppose the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual
Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement. We call for a moratorium on any new issues
or further negotiations that expand the scope and power of the WTO. During
this moratorium there should be a comprehensive and in-depth review and
assessment of the existing agreements. Effective steps should then be taken
to change the agreements. Such a review should address the WTO's impact on
marginalised communities, development, democracy, environment, health, human
rights, labour rights and the rights of women and children. The review must
be conducted with civil society's full participation.
The Statement constitutes an important step in challenging the official
Agenda. It is based on a carefully worded consensus of a large number of
individual organisations.


Yet this important Statement in demanding a "Moratorium" on further
liberalisation negotiations, fails to question the legitimacy of the WTO as
an institution. And indeed this issue should have been included explicitly in
the Statement.

The Marrakesh Agreement of 1994 constitutes a blatant violation of
fundamental social, economic and cultural rights. The stakes in Seattle are
fundamental and cannot be addressed with a compromise Statement which tacitly
accepts the legitimacy of the WTO as an institution. The WTO was put in place
following the signing of a "technical agreement" negotiated behind closed
doors by bureaucrats. Even the heads of ountry level delegations to Marrakesh
in 1994 were not informed regarding the statutes of the World Trade
Organisation which were drafted in separate closed sessions by technocrats.

"The Final Act Embodying the Results of the Uruguay Round of Multilateral
Trade Negotiations", was signed by ministers in Marrakesh on 15 April 1994.
The Final Act is a "technical agreement" which instates the WTO as a World
body. "The WTO framework ensures a "single undertaking approach" to the
results of the Uruguay Round - thus, membership in the WTO entails accepting
all the results of the Round without exception."

Following the Marrakesh meeting, the 550 page Agreement (plus its numerous
appendices) was either rubber-stamped in a hurry or never formally ratified
by national parliaments. The articles of agreement of the WTO resulting from
this "technical agreement" were casually entrenched in international law. In
other words, the 1994 Marrakesh Agreement which instates the WTO as a
multilateral body, bypasses the democratic process in each of the member
countries. It blatantly derogates national laws and constitutions while
providing extensive powers to global banks and multinational corporations.

These powers have in fact become entrenched in the articles of agreement of
the WTO.

In other words, the process of actual creation of the WTO following the Final
Act of Uruguay Round is blatantly "illegal". Namely a "totalitarian"
intergovernmental body has been casually installed in Geneva, empowered under
international law with the mandate to "police" country level economic and
social policies, derogating the sovereign rights of national governments.

Similarly, the WTO almost neutralises "with the stroke of the pen" the
authority and activities of several agencies of the United Nations including
the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the
International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Moreover, the articles of WTO are no only in contradiction with pre-existing
national and international laws, they are also in at variance with "The
Universal Declaration of Human Rights". Acceptance of the WTO as a legitimate
organisation is tantamount to an "indefinite moratorium" or repeal of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Moreover, apart from the blatant violation of international law, WTO rules
provide legitimacy to trade practices which border on criminality, including
"intellectual piracy" by MNCs, the derogation of plant breeders rights, not
to mention genetic manipulation by the biotechnology giants, the patenting of
life forms including plants, animals, micro-organisms, genetic material and
human life forms under the TRIPs agreement.

In the sphere of financial services, the provisions of the GATS provide
legitimacy to large scale financial and speculative manipulations directed
against developing countries which are often conducive to the demise of
country-level monetary policy.

And the WTO Dispute Settlement Procedures upholds the legitimacy of these
various manipulative procedures...


Amply documented, humanity is undergoing in the post-Cold War era an economic
and social crisis of unprecedented scale leading to the rapid impoverishment
of large sectors of the World population. National economies are collapsing,
unemployment is rampant; Wall Street banks are "taking over countries" one
after the other; regional wars have erupted along strategic gas-oil pipelines
and often behind the various "insurgencies" are powerful corporate interests
which coincidentally are also lobbying for trade reform... In most countries
the standard of living has collapsed...

This Worldwide crisis of the late twentieth century is more devastating than
the Great Depression of the 1930s. It has far-reaching geo-political
implications; economic dislocation has also been accompanied by the outbreak
of regional conflicts, the fracturing of national societies and in some cases
the destruction of entire countries. This crisis is by no means limited to
the developing countries. In Europe and North America the Welfare State is
being dismantled, schools and hospitals are being closed down creating
conditions for the outright privatisation of social services. By far this is
the most serious economic crisis in modern history.

In a large number of developing countries, the services economy and banking
are already in the hands of foreign capital, peasant economies have been
devastated as a result of the dumping of EU and US grain surpluses.

Genetically modified seeds produced among others by Cargill and Montsanto
(together with carefully engineered farm inputs produced by these same
agribusiness conglomerates) have been forced upon farmers throughout the
World often leading to mass poverty and the fracture of rural economies, not
to mention the contamination of the food chain derogating the rights of
consumers Worldwide.

In turn, international agribusiness is intent upon driving the family farm
into bankruptcy. This process is by no means limited to developing countries:
up to 30 percent of grain farmers in Western Canada are on the verge of
bankruptcy specifically as a result of the enforcement of WTO provisions
concerning farm subsidies by the Canadian government. And if this is
happening in Western Canada which constitutes one of the World's most
resourceful "bread baskets", what will be the fate of farmers in other
regions of World?


The terms of China's accession to the WTO agreed upon in bilateral
negotiations with the United States barely a few weeks before the Ministerial
Conference in Seattle, spells havoc in a country of more than one billion
population. It will devastate China's agriculture; it will trigger a deadly
wave of bankruptcies of State enterprises leading to mass unemployment. The
provision of "national treatment" to Western banks could potentially
precipitate the fracture of the entire structure of Chinese State banking...

The Chinese authorities, fully aware of the ramifications, have attempted in
a publicity stunt to convince Chinese public opinion that "the benefits from
the agreement would justify the job losses and bankruptcies it will cause".8

In the words of China's chief WTO negotiator Mr. Long Yongtu "a nation cannot
develop and become strong without a sense of urgency and a sense of crisis."9


More information about the Marxism mailing list