In late November, dark, damp Seattle will turn into the hottest scene in America for making a statement about the rules our world is governed by and who benefits. Come join us!
The event is the Third Ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO). While for many of us, the WTO seems like an obscure bureaucracy in Geneva, the trade body is becoming what the London-based Independentrecently termed "probably the most powerful organization on Earth." The WTO meeting, to be held from November 29 to December 3, will draw more than 5,000 delegates from over 130 countries. Many heads of state - including President Clinton - will be there, as well as lots of corporate CEOs and hoards of journalists.
Civil society groups are gearing up for massive action to let the world know there are alternatives to a corporate-dominated world economic system. As you may know, the un-elected panels of the WTO have handed down ruling after ruling that overturn laws passed by democratically elected governments. Its decisions have consistently favored the interests of money over the interests of life. (For specific examples, see Dan Seligman's article.)
Outside the official meetings there will be parades, protest marches, forums, and teach-ins put on by environmental organizations, labor unions, human rights groups, family farms, small businesses, local governments, and consumer groups. Dave and I and Positive Futures Network staff and board members will be there in the streets and at the forums. Do join us - we'll have lots of fun, learn a lot, and let the world know we want trade rules that are good for people and the planet - and that don't trump our democracies.
The civil society groups have agreed on a different theme each day from November 29 through December 3. These will include:
Democracy - national sovereignty, human rights, women's rights;
Labor - living wages, child labor, health conditions for workers;
Agriculture - sustainable agriculture, food safety, food security, and genetically modified organisms; also,
Environment and health, forestry, and corporate accountability.
I recommend you arrive in time for the Teach-In put on by the International Forum on Globalization (IFG). It will start on Friday evening, November 26 and go all day Saturday. The IFG is a body of the foremost international critics of the global economy. I attended the IFG's first Teach-In in 1995 at the Riverside Church in New York. It was a life-changing experience. At the Seattle Teach-In, you'll hear speakers like Vandana Shiva from India, Sara Larrain from Chile, Maude Barlow from Canada, Teddy Goldsmith from England - as well as Lori Wallach, David Korten, Jerry Mander, Randy Hayes, and many others from the United States.
If you do plan to come to Seattle, book your travel and lodging right away! The Thanksgiving holidays make travel difficult and hotel rooms are going quickly. If you can't find accommodations through your own networks and you're a YES! subscriber, contact Hannah and we'll provide ideas on places to stay.
Here's hoping to meet you in Seattle in late November.
PFN/IFG WTO party
The Positive Futures Network will host a joint reception with the International Forum on Globalization at Seattle's famed Elliott Bay Bookstore. YES! subscribers are invited to join us for food, books, and talk and to meet other YES! subscribers, IFG members, and many others who will be in Seattle for the WTO meeting. The reception will be in the evening of Sunday, November 28. If you can come, drop me a note or email my assistant, Hannah Gascho Rempel, and we'll confirm the date and time and send you tickets to the reception.
Also: Take a look at Sarah's report on the State of the Possible conference.