Oct 24/97: Activists denounce WTO and Commonwealth


GATT Watchdog
October 24, 1997

Indigenous rights activists Mike Smith and Annette Sykes condemn the CHOGM forum as a political anachronism based upon a nostalgic desire to cling to the notion of the "Empire".

Mr Smith and Ms Sykes, both veteran indigenous rights advocates representing the Maori people of Aotearoa/New Zealand have been attending the NGO forums as part of an international speaking tour of European nations.

The Empire has long ceased to exist. The current reality is that the economic and political sovereignty of the Commonwealth nations are being systematically eroded by the policies of the Free Trade agenda espoused by the groups such as the World Trade Organisation.

The whole historical notion of the Commonwealth has been based upon the relentless dispossession of indigenous peoples by various military, religious, or political regimes. One only has to visit the Museums in London to witness the results of the systematic pillaging of the wealth of the common peoples that is the postcolonial legacy.

The general populations of the modern nation states are now beginning to face the horrendous implications of the systematic asset stripping of their nation's wealth by foreign interest in modern times.

We experienced this phenomenon late last century and it took our society to the brink of extinction. Creating cycles of poverty and dependence that generate the environment for the proliferation of well meaning NGOs and other charities.

New Zealand has been at the forefront of implementing these experimental economic policies and we can report that the standard of living in New Zealand has radically declined for the general population. For the first time since the worldwide economic collapse of the 1930s we are witnessing widespread reliance on charity for basic human needs such as food and shelter.

Rather than repeat these mistakes and the subsequent misery they inflict upon populations we urge people's organisations within the Commonwealth to defend the basic notions of democracy. The development agenda of a nation must be decided by the popular will of its citizens and not by stand-over tactics of the corporate elites who resort to blatant forms of economic blackmail to seek advantage in the global markets.

We are supporting the newly established Peoples Global Action (PGA) coalition as a more positive replacement for these outdated international alliances.

We believe that the PGA principle of adopting a confrontational attitude is unfortunately unavoidable in that lobbying has minimal impact on such biased and undemocratic bodies such as the WTO.

We return back to New Zealand to engage in the organisation of non-violent civil disobedience against the global tyranny of the current trade and investment policies being advanced at CHOGM.

We call upon the populations of the Commonwealth nations to take direct democratic action in May 1998 as part of a global campaign of popular action against the WTO.

We must act to defend the basic human rights and responsibilities of the diverse peoples of the Commonwealth nations because it is clear in our view that the political will to confront these issues does not exist within CHOGM.

PGA is an international coalition of people's movements with a commitment to direct action and civil disobedience in opposition to the World Trade Organisation and all other instruments of globalisation and privatisation.

The coalition includes:

Karnataka State Farmers Assn (KRSS) India
Movemento Scm Terra (MST) Brazil
Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP)
Peasant Movement of the Philippines (KMP)
Play Fair Europe! (PFY!)
Foundation for Independent Analysis (FIA) New Zealand
Mama 86 Ukrainian Womens Network
The Indigenous Womens Network, North America and Pacific
Central Sandinista de Trabajadores (CST) Nicaragua (provisional)
Ejercito Zapatists de Liberacion National (EZLN) Mexico (provisional)
Contact Persons:
Mike Smith
Foundation for Independent Analysis (FIA) New Zealand
PO Box 1693
Aotearoa/New Zealand
Pager: 0064 026-104-536
Fax: 0064 7 346 2933

Sergio Hernandez
Play Fair Europe
Turmstr. 3
52072 Aachen
Fax: 00 49 241 888894

Back to SIS