WTO Ministerial Meeting in Qatar

There should be NO NEW ROUND of trade talks launched in Doha

MONTREAL – 07 NOVEMBER 2001 – Canada and other member states of the World Trade Organization (WT0) have failed to address vital implementation issues for developing countries and should not move forward with a new round of trade negotiations until these issues are resolved, Rights & Democracy’s President Warren Allmand wrote to Trade Minister Pierre Pettigrew this week.

Mr. Allmand said that WTO members are making a mockery of civil society consultation and transparency by holding the Ministerial in Qatar. He pointed to the severe restrictions on NGO access in Qatar and to its non-ratification of the international treaties guaranteeing civil and political rights, including the rights to opinion, expression and association. These conditions made Qatar an inappropriate choice for a WTO meeting from the start, and Rights & Democracy conveyed its concerns to WTO Director General Michael Moore in a letter dated January 26, 2001.

Mr. Allmand noted that implementation issues are particularly problematic as they relate to the WTO Agreement on Agriculture. He called upon Canada to recognize the differing economic and environmental conditions of its members and to prioritize the protection of the basic human right to food when it negotiates trade rules.

“In a world where 36 million people died of hunger or hunger-related disease last year – clearly there is a problem. The Agreement on Agriculture should be formulated in consideration of its potential impacts on the right to food and should in no way constrain any government’s ability to protect and fulfil that right In fact, no trade agreement should ever override human rights legislation,” Mr. Allmand said.

On November 8, Rights & Democracy will release a new study entitled Unequal Harvest: Farmers’ Voices on International Trade and the Right to Food (also available in French) at the Athanase-David Pavillion at the UQAM, 315, Ste-Catherine St., at 6:00 p.m. Other publications to be launched during the evening are L’int?gration des Am?riques. Pleins feux sur la ZLEA, ses acteurs, ses enjeux by Sylvain Turcotte and La dette ext?rieure des pays en d?veloppement by Chistian Deblock and Samia Kazi Aoul. The event is open to the media.

Please see also the letter to Minister Pettigrew signed by Warren Allmand.