Our World is Not for Sale Network
February 15, 2006


A Statement of Unity from the OUR WORLD IS NOT FOR SALE Network:


"Our World Is Not for Sale" is a worldwide network of organizations;
activists and social movements committed to challenging trade and
investment agreements that advance the interests of the world's most
powerful corporations at the expense of people and the environment.

Against this process of corporate-led globalization, we pose the
vision of a global economy that is built on principles of economic
justice, ecological sustainability, and democratic accountability, one
that asserts the interests of people over corporations. This is an
economy built around the interests of the real producers and
consumers, such as workers, peasants, family farmers, fishers, small
and medium sized producers, and around the needs of those marginalized
by the current system, such as women and indigenous people.

We believe that a just system must protect, not undermine, cultural,
biological, economic and social diversity; put the emphasis on the
development of healthy local economies and trade; secure
internationally recognized environmental, cultural, social and labour
rights; support the sovereignty and self-determination of peoples; and
protect national and sub-national democratic decision-making

Democracy is not simply a matter of holding elections. Democracy means
not being on the receiving end of a top-down, one-size-fits-all set of
values, priorities, and policies that are imposed through multilateral
bodies, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO). Democracy means
not being subjected to non-transparent and non- accountable decision-
making, such as the WTO's dispute settlement processes. Democracy
means people taking control over forces directly impacting their

When the WTO was established in 1995, its preamble stated that its
purpose was to bring about greater prosperity, increase employment,
reduce poverty, diminish inequality, and promote sustainable
development around the world through greater "free trade". Ten years
later it is clear that the WTO has not delivered on these goals and
has had exactly the opposite results.

The WTO trade regime has counteracted measures that would promote
development, alleviate poverty, and help ensure human and ecological
survival, both locally and globally. Under the guise of "free trade",
WTO rules are used to force open new markets and bring them under the
control of transnational corporations.

Furthermore, the big trading powers have used the WTO to advance and
consolidate transnational corporate control of economic and social
activities in areas beyond trade, including development, investment,
competition, intellectual property rights, the provision of social
services, environmental protection and government procurement.

Large-scale liberalization in these areas will force developing
countries to relinquish many of the economic development tools that
industrialized countries used to build their economies and create
jobs. Furthermore, existing provisions of the WTO, as well as ones
currently being negotiated, would effectively 'lock in' the
"structural adjustment programs" of the World Bank and International
Monetary Fund.

Moreover, in advancing the interests of the big trading powers, the
methods of governance and decision-making that are used in the WTO are
notorious for their reliance on threat, deception, manipulation and
lack of transparency in an undemocratic and non-inclusive process.

It is the destructive social, political, and environmental
consequences of the pro-corporate, neo-liberal model of globalization
that has elicited rising resistance from a broad range of civil
society organizations and social movements around the world, including
at WTO summits in Seattle, Doha, Cancun and Hong Kong.

Our World is not for Sale is part of this global resistance.

Ten years after the founding of the WTO, it has become clear to us
that the possibilities of the WTO moving in the direction of positive
reforms are minimal, if not absent. Change is absolutely necessary. At
the moment we have a system where:

* livelihoods are being destroyed, human rights ignored, public health
endangered, the environment plundered and democratic systems eroded;

* local economies are being undermined, with workers, peasants, family
farmers, fishers, consumers, women and indigenous peoples being
especially disadvantaged and exploited;

* governments' ability to guarantee access to the essentials of life,
promote health, safety and food sovereignty, and protect cultural and
biological diversity is being undermined and sometimes eliminated.
Around the world, the negative results of the current global economic
system are propelling democratic movements -- acting via the ballot
box and in the streets -- to demand change. Elected officials in many
countries have lost faith in the current system of global economic
governance. Increasingly, a number of economists and technocrats who
created and espoused this system are beginning to question it, as its
results prove quite the opposite of those promised. All this is taking
place in the context of growing inequality both between and within
nations and a resurgence of militarism.

The efforts of the WTO to forcibly liberalize global trade in a manner
that harms economic justice, social well-being, gender equity and
ecological sustainability, must be resisted. Its power and authority
must be rolled back from many areas where it has been imposed,
including agriculture, services, and intellectual property rights.

At the same time, we must devise new institutions to facilitate trade,
production and distribution for the common good if we are to avoid the
growing prospect of social and ecological catastrophe. The current
trade regime, which includes the WTO, as well as regional and
bilateral trade and investment agreements, must give way to a new,
socially just and ecologically sustainable trading framework for the
21st Century.


Since 1998, members of the OWINFS network have combined to share
analysis, develop strategies and coordinate actions internationally in
order to promote the development of alternative, just and sustainable

We are committed to developing a new, democratically accountable
trading system that advances economic justice, social well-being,
gender equity and ecological sustainability, and that provides decent
jobs and necessary goods and services for all people.

We support the development of vibrant local economies and the rights
of workers, peasants, migrants, family farmers, consumers, women, and
indigenous people. We believe that the self-determination of people
must not be subordinated to international commercial commitments.

Among other things, this requires that decision-making processes and
enforcement at all levels of governance are democratic, transparent
and inclusive.

We recognize that a socially just international trading system must
give priority to the rights and welfare of the workers, peasants,
migrants, fishers, and family farmers who produce our goods, services,
and food.

We call on governments and multilateral agencies to halt their attacks
on basic workers rights, the reversal of the gains of workers'
struggles, the undermining of job security and the race-to-the-bottom
in wages and to strengthen workers' rights worldwide.

We oppose trade liberalisation agreements and negotiations that
encourage taking away access to natural resources from those
indigenous and local communities that depend on them for their
livelihoods and giving such access instead to corporations. Other
fundamental human rights must also be respected, promoted and
realized, starting with the self-determination of indigenous peoples
and the provision of basic social needs and services, including
education, food security and sovereignty, universal access to clean
water for human use and public health.

Likewise, ecological integrity must be a goal of a transformed global
trading system. This means, among other things, that corporate trade
and investment must be regulated to reverse global warming;
multilateral environmental accords must have precedence over trade
agreements; environmental standards must not be pulled downward by
trade accords; and the right of people to reject genetically modified
organisms, to preserve old growth forests and farmers' diverse seed
stocks, and promote animal welfare, must be respected.


Asserting People's Right to Choose: Self-determination, Democracy and

We reassert the fundamental right of countries to develop economic and
industrial policies that foster genuine economic development, create
decent jobs and protect livelihoods, and enhance the environment. All
countries, and especially poorer countries, must have the right to use
policy options (such as local content policies) to increase the
capacity of their own productive sectors, particularly small and
medium enterprises. Countries must also preserve their ability
("policy space") to shape economic social and environmental
development strategies that serve the most vulnerable of their people.

The drive for "coherence" among the international institutions has
become a means to deny that policy space: the International Monetary
Fund, World Bank and some individual donor countries force governments
to implement neo-liberal policies and the WTO and other trade and
investment agreements lock these policies in. Therefore:

** Our World Is Not For Sale demands an end to the secretive and
coercive practices that have become the hallmark of trade
negotiations, especially at the WTO, where a few powerful governments,
often acting on behalf of their corporate elites, are able to coerce
weaker governments to achieve their goals.

** The dismantling of tariffs and other trade measures must not be
allowed to put local economies, especially those of poorer countries
and/or poor economic sectors, at the mercy of transnational
corporations, and threaten local economic development, labour laws and
standards, public and consumer health and safety, and the environment.

** "Free trade" negotiations in the WTO and elsewhere cannot be
allowed to continue operating as a Trojan Horse to secure pro-
corporate rules on investment, competition, government procurement,
market access, agricultural production, domestic regulation of
services and intellectual property rights. Neither can the current
power dynamics, in which the rich industrialised countries force their
economic agenda on poorer countries, be allowed to continue.

** The use of structural adjustment and debt conditionality to force
trade liberalization in third world countries and elsewhere must end.
The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the regional
development banks need to write off all the debts owed to them by
developing/transition countries so those countries can reallocate
these funds to meet the urgent needs of their people.

Advancing the Primacy of Social Rights and the Environment We believe
that protecting and advancing social rights, meeting basic needs, and
protecting our environment are essential to life. It is unacceptable
that these can be undermined by WTO and other 'trade' agreement rules.

** Any trade and investment agreements must not have primacy over, or
undermine, international agreements which promote social, economic and
environmental justice, including but not limited to:

- the International Labor Organization (ILO) Declaration on
Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (covering the four core
labour standards);

- the Convention on Biodiversity and its Biosafety Protocol, and other
multilateral environmental agreements;

- the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights and its associated
conventions: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political

- the anticipated United Nations Declaration of the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples;

- the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination
Against Women (CEDAW); and

- the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All
Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families

** Governments must retain the sovereign right to determine how to
regulate services in ways that meet the needs of their people, economy
and society, and that honour their other international and
constitutional obligations, including to women, indigenous peoples,
the young, the elderly and the poor.

** The right of governments to adopt the precautionary principle to
protect public health, the environment, and agriculture from unknown
risks must take precedence over any trade agreements and provisions.

** Tariff reductions that harm the environment or sustainable
development by increasing inappropriate trade in natural resources and
other environmentally sensitive goods should not be undertaken.

** The undermining of the United Nations by the pro-corporate Bretton
Woods institutions, the WTO, and the big powers must be stopped, and
the UN system of agreements and agencies must be strengthened

Protecting Essential Services

We endorse the fundamental principle that no trade or investment
agreement should infringe on the sovereignty of governments to
guarantee access to the essentials of life, to promote the health and
well being of their people, and to protect the environment, Therefore:

** Countries should not be pressured to accede to trade rules that
diminish this ability, whether through the WTO's General Agreement on
Trade in Services (GATS) or through regional or bilateral agreements.

** Sectors directly relating to such essentials, including health,
education, cultural/audio-visual, social assistance, water and energy
services, must be explicitly excluded from all trade and investment

** Rules concerning Domestic Regulation, Subsidies and Government
Procurement of services by their very nature impinge on this ability
and should not be included in trade and investment agreements.

Countries are facing enormous pressure to subject their essential
services to GATS rules which have the effect of promoting
privatization. Further, when commitments made under these rules are
adopted by countries that have been or are being subjected to
deregulation and privatization of their essential services through
"structural adjustment" requirements, the GATS rules serve to lock in
privatization. In this way GATS promotes the opening up of local
markets to transnational corporations and the advancement of the neo-
liberal economic model. Therefore:

** These "structural adjustment" requirements must be rolled back, not
locked in, and must not be a condition for countries receiving new
loans or grants, nor should countries be pressured to subject their
essential services to GATS rules.

Defending Knowledge, Culture and Life Forms as the Essence of

We see knowledge, culture and education as the driving forces of
civilization. These forces cannot be reduced to tradeable commodities
or private property.

There is no basis for inclusion of such intellectual property claims
in a trade agreement. Moreover, all nations have the responsibility
and obligation to protect the public health and wellbeing of their
people. Current intellectual property rules in trade pacts, such as
the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property
Rights (TRIPs), obstruct people's access to essential medicines, seeds
and vital necessities, while leading to private appropriation of life
forms and traditional knowledge and the destruction of biodiversity.
Furthermore, they keep poorer countries from increasing their levels
of social and economic welfare and defending their unique identity and
heritage. Therefore,

** Governments must retain their unfettered right to limit patent
protection in order to protect the public interest in these areas,
especially in relation to medicines, seeds and life forms.

** The patenting of life forms, including microorganisms, must be
prohibited in all national and international regimes.

** Genuine cultural diversity must be defended against the
homogenizing impact of global markets and monopolies over knowledge,
technology and telecommunications.

Preserving and Advancing Food Sovereignty and Food Security

We affirm that the right to food is a basic human right. The WTO
Agreement on Agriculture (AOA) subordinates this right to corporate
profitability. The food system promoted by the WTO is built on
industrialized and capital-intensive, export-driven agriculture that
is furthering corporate concentration along the food chain and
undermining the livelihoods, rights, health and living and working
conditions of agricultural and food workers and thus further
undermining food security.

Moreover, it fails to recognize that farming is a way of life and an
important basis of community and culture. Thus, its policies and those
of other trade agreements foster further concentration and increase of
power of transnational corporations and cause the expulsion of
millions of peasants and family farmers from the land and production,
in Northern and Southern countries. Since the introduction of
"structural adjustment programs" and the establishment of the WTO,
many peasants, family farmers, and agricultural workers have been
displaced from the land and experienced hunger, with many driven into
suicide, owing to import liberalization via tariff reductions, the
abolition of quantitative restrictions and inequitable national
agricultural policies. At the same time many subsidies going to
agribusiness, including export- oriented industrial farming, have been
increased rather than reduced.

While these rules allow increasingly powerful agribusiness trading
companies to push down the commodity prices paid to farmers worldwide,
the concentration of food distribution and processing under the WTO's
agriculture and service sector rules has led to increased food prices
for consumers. Therefore:

** To avoid further escalation in hunger, displacement and death,
action must be taken immediately to curtail agricultural, trade and
investment policies that encourage chronic overproduction and to ban
the dumping of agricultural commodities onto world markets below the
cost of production by global food corporations and others involved in
global agricultural trade. Direct and indirect export subsidies that
lead to dumping must be banned. Countries should retain and reassert
their sovereign rights to protect their agricultural markets and
sectors from dumping in order to implement measures that can
effectively and actively support peasant- and family farmer-based
sustainable production.

** Measures must be taken to promote and protect peoplesĀ' food
sovereignty (the right of peoples and communities to define their own
food and agricultural policies, as well as the right to produce their
basic foods in a manner that respects cultural and productive
diversity and supports peasant- and family farmer-based sustainable
production) and food safety and security (both for consumers and

** Measures that only concern production for domestic consumption and
do not contribute to increased exports to international markets should
be exempted from any international trade agreement. The trading system
must not undermine the livelihood of peasants, family farmers,
agricultural workers, artisan fishers, and indigenous peoples.

** We believe that the development of food sovereignty, food security
and peasant- and family farmer-based sustainable agriculture requires
governments to acknowledge the flaws in the "free market" principles
that underpin perceived comparative advantage, export-led agricultural
development and "structural adjustment" policies; and replace those
policies with ones that prioritize and protect local, subsistence and
sustainable production, including use of import controls and
regulation that ensure more equitable sustainable production methods.

** Various agreements will be required to ensure these objectives.
These could include a convention on food sovereignty and sustainable
agriculture, and a declaration on the rights of peasants and family
farmers. Ultimately, the WTO and other "free trade" agreements, with
their current focus on trade liberalization at all costs, are not
appropriate places for such rules; therefore, alternative spaces to
discuss these rules have to be strengthened.

Stopping Corporate Globalization and Promoting Trade Justice

The WTO's trade rules, and those of many other regional trade
agreements now in existence and being negotiated, promote the power of
corporations in the global economy by providing new investor,
intellectual property and other rights. At the same time, they lock in
neo-liberal policies of privatization and deregulation. All this is
done under the guise of "free trade". This imbalance in power promotes
the economic self-interest of a few global economic giants, often with
devastating effects on local economies, particularly in developing

Such corporate power is being ratcheted up through regional and
bilateral trade and investment agreements. Their powerful rules
promote corporate rights and pose a serious threat to local democratic
authority. Under some accords, in fact, foreign corporations can now
sue national governments for "lost profits" if any law or regulation
in the country reduces their present or future profitability.
Environmental, labour, and social rights all become secondary to the
right to corporate profits. This trend must be reversed.

Having successfully thwarted the Multilateral Agreement on Investment,
which would have enshrined such corporate rights, we call for an end
to the corporate strategy of promoting the rapid and reckless
expansion of regional and bilateral trade and investment agreements
that attempt to reinforce the faltering WTO. We also call for an end
to trade rules that guarantee a foreign investor's right to profit by
exposing domestic regulatory policies to investor challenges and
demands for compensation from public funds.

To begin moving toward a just trading system, we call on governments
to negotiate a legally binding agreement to ensure that corporations
are held democratically accountable for their conduct with regard to
their social, economic and environmental impacts, including the role
that some play in supporting repressive political regimes and
marketing of weapons. This should be done through the UN and other
appropriate bodies, with full participation of civil society.

Further we call on civil society organizations and movements to
initiate a global civil society dialogue on developing an alternative,
just and sustainable trading framework to replace the neo-liberal
model, one that genuinely promotes pro-people and rights-based
sustainable development and that puts communities first.

We are committed to an ecologically sustainable, socially just and
democratically accountable trade system. Thus, as a first step, we
demand that our governments implement the changes listed in this
document in order to constrain and roll back the power and authority
of the WTO, and to turn trade around and create a just system. We
commit ourselves to mobilize people within our home countries,
regionally, and globally to fight for these demands and to defy the
unjust policies of the WTO and the broader multilateral trading

The choice before us is stark: either we accept the current corporate-
centered global order and forfeit the welfare of succeeding
generations and the future of the planet itself, or we take up the
difficult challenge of moving toward a new system that puts at its
heart the interests of people, communities, and the environment.