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Week of Action: WTO Out! Building Sovereignty

By Mary Louise Malig

Numerous events, panel discussions, workshops, actions, mobilisations, music and cultural festivals took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 7-13 November, to send a loud and clear message to the WTO: get out! GFC and allies including the Confluencia FueraOMC, ATTAC Argentina, Siemenpuu and La Via Campesina co-organised several events and actions both inside and outside the WTO Ministerial venue.

GFC members spoke at a number of panel discussions at the People’s Summit, including: Inés Franceschelli of Henoi and Ñamoseke Monsanto on “Extractivism and International Markets”; Letícia Tura of FASE on “Social, Environmental and Climate Justice” and Pablo Solón of Fundación Solón on “Alternatives to Extractivism from the Peoples”. These events all contributed to the overall theme on Forests and Biodiversity, in which the whole GFC delegation actively participated.

Inside the negotiations, GFC and our allies closely followed the developments of two key negotiations: the WTO and the EU-Mercosur trade deal, relaying important information to allies working on the outside. We also held a press conference in the Ministerial venue to get our messages across in the media, showing how the deals on the table would be detrimental to forest peoples, small farmers and peasants, workers, women, and the planet. We also took part in an action inside the Ministerial venue, sending a clear message to the negotiators that we reject the deals on the table, and highlighting the fact that 300,000 farmers have already committed suicide in India alone because of the WTO’s unfair trade policies.

There was then a big mobilisation in the streets of central Buenos Aires with people joining in to sing, dance, and chant: ‘WTO Out’ or ‘Fuera OMC!’ Shortly afterwards, the negotiations collapsed when the US Trade Representative refused to agree to a deal that would provide public stockholding for food security for small producer countries.

The last day of the Ministerial finished with a very delayed closing session that refused to admit that both the WTO Ministerial Declaration and an EU-Mercosur deal had failed. There was no consensus on a Ministerial Declaration and instead the Chair simply issued a statement, ending with “there is life after Buenos Aires”. Indeed there is life after Buenos Aires—as the people who mobilised against the WTO around the world showed, we can move forward with hope and determination to push for people’s alternatives, and an Economy for Life that protects and provides for people and the planet in a truly sustainable and holistic way.

From Bali to Buenos Aires: An Economy for Life
Summit of the Peoples #FueraOMC: Building Sovereignty Press Conference
Forest activists celebrate collapse of WTO and EU-Mercosur negotiations in Argentina Press Release
STALEMATE IN THE WTO BUT….No permanent solution for the right to food: A brief analysis on the WTO Buenos Aires negotiations by Mary Louise Malig
Final statement of the Peoples’ Summit “WTO Out, Building Sovereignty” and for more information, see here: fueraomc.org