We, organisations and movements of the peoples of Mauritius, Indian Ocean and Southern African Region, wish to convey to you as Director of the World Trade Organisation, our total opposition to the WTO and its agreements. We wish to let you know that the working peoples and citizens in this region of the world are part of the growing worldwide movement against the WTO, as you will have seen it in Seattle last November. Those few people of the ruling class in our countries who choose to greet you and praise the WTO certainly do not reflect our view. We hold the view that the WTO together with the IMF and World Bank are imposing capitalist-led globalisation on the people of the world, and of our region, in particular.
Since the launch of the WTO in 1994 there has been, as a result of the economic liberalisation it imposes, mass impoverishment of vast sections of the world's population. This poverty has become extreme in Africa, as noted by the UNDP. The downgrading of workers' living conditions is a built-in WTO mechanism, a downward spiral. The WTO has facilitated further concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few transnational corporations and finance capital conglomerates based in the industrialised countries of the North and in the hands of tiny elite in the South. It has served as an instrument for the acceleration of globalisation in the interests of capital. Far from promoting a global 'free market', it represents a new wave of selective protectionism for rich countries. This implies, opening up new, dangerous colonisation of the rest of the world. The recent Africa Growth and Opportunity Act amply proves just how selective this 'protectionism' is.
The WTO aims at making the capitalist market seize control on life-forms, nature (even seeds), human labour and knowledge. The 'market', WTO says, must dictate how work is organised, wages are determined, factories are relocated. The market must decide what we eat, drink and breathe. This type of 'globalisation' whittles down social gains, eliminates cultures, destroys public services, erodes democracy and wipes out the peoples' right to policy choices and political independence.
In the name of so-called 'free' trade, freedom itself is being annihilated. The WTO is illegitimate as it has by-passed all democratic process in all countries of the world. The establishment of the WTO has NEVER been a subject of democratic and popular debate nor has been approved in any sovereign assembly be it in Mauritius, Indian Ocean states, any countries of the Southern African Region, or anywhere else in the world. Yet the WTO blatantly imposes agreements that give extensive powers to global banks and multinational corporations, and take precedence over our national laws and Constitutions.
For all these reasons, we were part of the Seattle movement in November 99, saying No to the WTO: No new round: Turn around. This is why we are mobilizing working people and citizens of our region against the WTO, to call for the dismantlement of the WTO and to work towards a more equal world economic system. As organisations and citizens of this region of our planet, we hold the profound belief that the internationalization of economies, cultures, ideas and people, if it took place in a spirit of respect for peoples' rights, for the environment, for social achievements, for millennial agricultural knowledge of the people, if it were democratically decided, would enrich humanity considerably.
In the context of our campaign to oppose the WTO and to work towards a more equal world economic system:
1) We re-affirm our stand to say no to any proposed new round of negotiations. In particular, no to all new issues and to all new trade agreements such as on investment, competition, government procurement, biotechnology and accelerated tariff liberalisation, and we oppose all attempts to further liberalise the world economy.
2) Instead we join our voices to request an immediate moratorium period.
3) We request that in the moratorium period:
a) a complete world audit of all the consequences of globalisation on people's lives, on the increase of poverty and social inequality in the world, and to determine the incompatibility of WTO with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with civil, political or economic, social and cultural rights as guaranteed by UN and the ILO Conventions and all other international conventions.
b) to scrap any existing trade agreements that conflict with human freedom, human rights and dignity.
c) the organisation of world-wide general assemblies for open and democratic debate among citizens, workers, trade unions, associations, social movements, elected representatives and all those whose lives are in some way affected by further reducing regulation of trade, to decide the future of the WTO and develop an alternative, humane, democratically accountable and sustainable system of commerce that benefits all.
First signatories, National Organising Committee, All Workers Conference, Mauritius
General Workers Federation, Federation of Progressive Union, Ledikasyon Pu Travayer, Federation des Travailleurs Unis, Mauritius Labour Congress, Federation des Syndicats des Corps Constitués, Rodrigues Government Employees Association, Government Teachers Union
We support and endorse in general terms the Open Letter to Mike Moore, which we also refer to as the Common Declaration of Mauritius, in the context of Mike Moore's presence at the Comesa Conference.