The Battle of Seattle
In November 1999, the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Third Ministerial Meeting in Seattle collapsed in spectacular fashion, in the face of unprecedented protest from civil society and governments around the world. We believe it is essential to use this moment as an opportunity to change course and develop an alternative, humane, democratically accountable and sustainable system of commerce that benefits all. This process envisions rolling back the power and authority of the WTO.
The GATT Uruguay Round Agreements and the establishment of the WTO were proclaimed as a means of enhancing the creation of global wealth and prosperity and promoting the well being of all people in all member states. In reality, however, the WTO has contributed to the concentration of wealth in the hands of the rich few; increased poverty for the majority of the world’s peoples, especially in third world countries; and brought forth unsustainable patterns of production and consumption.
The WTO and GATT Uruguay Round Agreements have functioned principally to push open markets for the benefits of transnational corporations at the expense of national and international economies; workers, farmers, indigenous peoples, women and other social groups; food security and safety; the environment; and animal welfare. In addition, the WTO system, rules and procedures are undemocratic, un-transparent and non-accountable and have operated to marginalize the majority of the world’s people.