WTO meeting fails the world

Feature story - 14 November, 2001
As trade liberalisation talks ground to a close, the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior set sail from offshore the World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting site in Doha, Qatar.

Rainbow Warrior sails into Doha to challenge the WTO to use its 4th Ministerial Conference to force the US to commit to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

Greenpeace activists inside the meeting unfurled banners calling for a fundamental transformation of trade rules.

The meeting has concluded with a declaration that falls short of ambitions declared at the start of negotiations and also disappoints hopes for protection of communities and the environment.

"This meeting has failed to produce a vision for sustainable development and the protection of the environment" said Greenpeace International Political Director Remi Parmentier, speaking from the meeting site.

"The WTO has two crises of confidence: Opposition from the outside world to this trade liberalisation agenda, and an internal crisis of dissent among WTO member countries."

Parmentier called for an international conference to revise the relationship between the WTO, International Monetary Fund, World Bank and environmental protection.

This meeting ran into overtime and concluded only in the last possible hours of discussion. The agreement on environment offers very little progress in defending environmental protections against trade concerns.

"Every step of progress on the environment is countered by

contradictory language or harmful measures" said Greenpeace Canada campaigns director Jo Dufay, on board the Rainbow Warrior.

"They have agreed to study the relationship between trade rules and the environment, but also said that WTO rules won't change." Dufay was in Doha for the trade meeting.

The agreement on areas for further trade liberalisation was finalised today after a grueling round-the-clock negotiating session. Apart from the environment, major differences on investment, 'dumping', agriculture and market access for textiles stalled the talks for days. Developing nations claimed their needs had not been addressed by the rich countries, and that unfair pressure was being exerted.

In the end, liberalisation of investment measures was not resolved, with agreement only that this may undergo further negotiations at the next Ministerial meeting, two years from now.

Earlier agreement on drug patent issues offers some relief to earlier WTO agreements.

"The whole issue of medicines and the patenting of life should never have been subject to horse-trading in the first place," Parmentier commented.

"They are have come up with a balance of misery, where everyone is unhappy, especially developing nations. This is no way to run the world," Dufay concluded.

For more information about Greenpeace in Doha, visit our archived site.