Covert Action Quarterly, Spring-Summer 2000
Title: Seattle and Beyond: The Illegality of the WTO
Author: Michel Chossudovsky
Faculty evaluator: Richard Senghas, Ph.D., Andy Merrifield, Ph.D.
Student researchers: Kate Sims, Dana Balicki, Brian Baptista
Something not mentioned by the corporate press or most of the 1,200 groups from 85 countries that opposed the World Trade Organization (WTO) policies during and after the Seattle demonstrations in 1999, is the fact that the WTO is actually an illegal institution.
The WTO was put in place following the signing, in 1994 in Morocco, of a “technical document” negotiated behind closed doors. Even the heads of the delegations involved in the agreement were not completely informed of the statutes it contained. The instatement of the WTO as a world body was done without the consultation of the citizens (or even their representatives) of the various nations. Following the Morocco meeting, the agreement was either rubber-stamped or never formally ratified by national governments, yet membership in the WTO requires acceptance of its precepts without exception.
The 1994 agreement has been casually embodied in international law, bypassing the democratic process in most all of the member countries. It blatantly overrides national laws and constitutions while providing extensive powers to global banks and multinational corporations. This totalitarian intergovernmental body has been empowered, under international law, to “police” country-level economic and social policies, suppressing the rights of national governments. Also, the WTO neutralizes the authority of UN agencies, such as the International Labor Organization, designed to oversee international trade conduct. It furthermore contradicts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The deregulation of the U.S. banking system was approved by the U.S. Senate barely six weeks before the WTO convention in Seattle. With the stroke of a pen, most all international restraints on Wall Street’s powerful banking conglomerates were revoked. In the months since the Seattle protests, multinational banks and corporations have begun taking over whole countries, causing the collapse of national economies and looting the resources of the indigenous peoples.
The clauses of the defunct Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) (Censored Story #1 of 1999), which was to provide “national treatment to foreign banks and MNCs, are also in the process of becoming a fait accompli through the WTO. U.S. bank deregulation has allowed speculative capital investments globally. U.S. and E.U. financial giants are moving toward global control of monetary policy and financial markets.
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