Free trade is leading us to disaster
International demonstration against the WTO summit
Saturday 11 June – 2pm, Place Lise Girardin, Geneva
Food sovereignty, Now! Peasants’ Rights, Now! Down with the WTO!
Meeting with La Via Campesina delegates: Monday 13 June at 6.30pm at UniMail.
First signatories. Uniterre, ATTAC, Collectif BreakFree, CETIM, SolidaritéS, FIAN Suisse, MAPC, CADTM, UNIA Geneva,…..
Since the creation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1995, La Via Campesina has been denouncing the neoliberal and free trade policies that are destroying the world’s peasantry and destabilising local food systems. From Seattle to Cancun, from Hong Kong to Buenos Aires, the peasantNexs have inspired a great alliance of peoples against the imposition of a new trade order in the service of transnational corporations and billionaires. Today, they are again calling on us to oppose the ministerial meeting of this criminal organisation in Geneva in June.
Peasant and indigenous mobilisations have been successful in blocking the negotiations. Since 2001 and the Doha agreement, no new WTO agreement has ever been adopted. However, the Marrakesh agreement applies: it obliges to open up markets to transnational companies and prevents the implementation of ambitious public policies in favour of peasants and other small producers. Moreover, bilateral or regional free trade agreements have multiplied.
Neoliberal policies and the imposition of free trade have greatly weakened peasantry around the world. They force countries to give priority to export crops and to depend on imports to feed their populations. They accentuate the monopolisation of natural resources by transnationals, to the detriment of peasants and local communities. They aggravate global warming by promoting industrial monoculture, deforestation, overexploitation of soil and water, and loss of biodiversity. The health of the poorest households is severely affected by the loss of quality food from industrial processes and exports.
The Covid-19 pandemic, extreme events linked to global warming, the war in Ukraine – today the evidence is clear: making people’s food and health dependent on international trade and transnational corporations is irresponsible and criminal. This must stop. The WTO must get out of agriculture! Food sovereignty must be the basis of agricultural and food policies and countries must implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other Rural People (UNDROP) and the guidelines on small-scale fisheries.
Free trade is criminal in other areas too. It has disarmed states and imposed neo-liberalism: dismantling public services, austerity, debt, delocalisation and overproduction – this race to the bottom by states has exacerbated inequality and increased poverty in both the South and the North. Women are the first victims; forced migration, wars and endemic violence are the consequences. Financial deregulation fuels speculation and a succession of endemic crises, while at the same time totalitarian regulations reinforce the “right” to profits of transnationals and their patents on seeds and medicines (even in the midst of a pandemic!).
We demand public policies that favour access to land and agricultural resources for young people as well as the establishment of short circuits.
In all areas, the sovereignty of the people is flouted by the WTO.
Solidarity with the exemplary struggle of La Via Campesina in defence of peoples’ food sovereignty!