Friends of the Earth
More than 600 Citizens Groups Call Draft Multilateral Agreement on Investment “Unacceptable,” Demand Negotiations Be Halted Until Concerns Are Addressed
Feb. 12, 1998, WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than 600 organizations from 67 countries released a joint statement today calling for the suspension of negotiations on the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) until substantive and procedural concerns are met. The draft MAI “elevates the rights of investors far above those of governments, local communities, citizens, workers and the environment,” the statement declares.
“Citizens from all over the world are united against this stealth MAI,” said Lori Wallach, Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “Citizens will not allow the MAI to handcuff their democracies. It is no wonder that opposition to the MAI is the fastest growing international citizens’ movement.”
“The MAI would give corporations unprecedented power to directly challenge governments’ environmental, health, labor and other safeguards,” said Brent Blackwelder, President of Friends of the Earth. “The MAI would be a dagger through the heart of democracy.”
“Few issues have ever galvanized such diverse citizen opposition,” said Michael McCloskey, chairman of the Sierra Club. “The MAI is all corporate rights and no responsibilities.”
The groups also unveiled an international advertising campaign against the MAI beginning with a print ad to run in the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, and other newspapers worldwide.
The MAI is being negotiated at the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The investment treaty would establish new limits on how governments can regulate portfolio and direct foreign investment and currency speculation. The MAI, under negotiation since spring 1995, is due to be completed by April 1998.
The joint statement calls on the OECD and the national governments to eliminate provisions allowing foreign investors and corporations to directly sue governments for any action they claim undermines their planned profits. As well, the groups oppose provisions that remove government authority to stabilize currency speculation and portfolio investment flows.
“In the aftermath of Mexican and Asian speculative meltdowns, how could we consider eviscerating our country’s capacity to deal with these growing problems,” said Wallach.
The statement also calls for suspension of MAI negotiations and extension of the 1998 deadline to allow meaningful public input and participation; increased transparency in the negotiations by releasing drafts to the public and holding open public meetings and hearings; expansion of the active participation to include a broader range of governmental bodies; and renegotiation of terms that now forbid countries from withdrawing from the MAI for the first 20 years time.
The “Joint NGO Statement on the Multilateral Agreement on Investment” is signed by more than 600 non-governmental organizations from 67 countries, including Greenpeace International, World Wildlife Fund for Nature International (WWWF-I), Third World Network, the Canadian Labour Congress, Mexico’s Frente Autentico del Trabajo (FAT), Pacific Asia Resource Center, Pakistan’s Society for Conservation and Protection of Environment (SCOPE), South African Municipal Workers Union, Ecoropa, Australians for Animals, Catholic Fund for Oversees Development, World Economy, Ecology and Development Association and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
More than 150 citizens groups from the United States signed on to the Joint NGO Statement including the Presbyterian Church, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, National Wildlife Federation, National Farmers Union, Witness for Peace, Community Nutrition Institute, Washington Office on Latin America, Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights, International Labor Rights Fund, Animal Welfare Institute, Reform Party of Texas, and the Association of State Green Parties.