From the 23 to the 25 of February 1998, 600 representatives of peoples movements will meet in Geneva to establish a platform for worldwide action against trade liberalisation: the Peoples' Global Action against "Free" Trade and the WTO (PGA).
The PGA will work as a tool for coordination, exchange of information and mutual support for the struggles of all those hit by neoliberal globalisation. It calls for non-violent civil disobedience and the construction of local alternatives by local people, as answers to the action of multilateral institutions, governments and corporations.
The first big-scale action in the calendar of the PGA will be a wave of decentralised mobilisations and protests all over the world parallel to the Second Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which shall take place on 18-20 May 1998.
The meeting in February will be the founding conference of the PGA, since it will lay down the basis of the alliance in the form of a manifesto. It is being convened by a committee formed by some of the most representative peoples' movements of all continents, including peasant movements (like the Brazilian Movimento Sem Terra, the Indian KRRS and the Peasant Movement of the Philippines), indigenous peoples (like the Mexican Zapatistas, the Nigerian Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, the Indigenous Women's Network of North America and the Pacific and FIA, a Maori organisation from Aotearoa), unions (like the Central Sandinista de Trabajadores from Nicaragua) and women's organisations (like Mama 86, an organisation of Ukranian women affected by the Chernobyl disaster, and the above mentioned Indigenous Women's Network).
Other events will take place around the first PGA conference. From the 18 to the 21 of February, there will be several information and discussion roundtables on topics such as gender, food production, culture, economics, etc., prepared by organisations participating in the conference. On February 22 there will be a one-day intensive seminar on the WTO, the MAI and trade liberalisation. On February 26 there will be a number of coordination and planning sessions in small groups, divided according to the topics treated in the roundtables. Finally, on February 27 there will be a European meeting to launch a Europe-wide movement of civil disobedience against "free" trade.
If you want more information about the PGA and its first conference, please visit the web page http://www.agp.org or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org
IMPORTANT: If you are interested in this conference and come from Africa, Asia, Latin America or Central and Eastern Europe, please get in touch with the conference secretariat RIGHT NOW, even if you are not sure about your participation. The Swiss visa procedure is probably the most difficult one in the whole world. There will be limited funds to support the travel expenses of some delegates; you will receive more information about this at the beginning of 1998, but you should anyhow send your application now.
1. What is the PGA?
From the 23rd to the 25th of February, peoples' movements from all continents will meet in Geneva to launch a worldwide coordination of resistance against the global market, a new alliance of struggle and mutual support called the Peoples' Global Action against "Free" Trade and the World Trade Organisation (PGA). This new platform will serve as a global instrument for communication and coordination for all those fighting against the destruction of humanity and the planet by the global market, building up local alternatives and peoples' power.2. Information Exchange
You have in your hands the issue 0 of the PGA bulletin, the main instrument for information exchange of the Peoples' Global Action. The next issues will be very different: they will not be written by the convenors, but by movements from the whole world, and they will rarely include long articles like this one. Besides the bulletin there will be a database and other means of communication, like discussion lists, a web page, etc.3. First Conference of the PGA - Geneva, 23-25 February 1998
From the 18th to the 20th of May 1998, heads of state and ministers from the whole world will meet in Geneva for the 2nd Ministerial Conference of the (WTO), and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the multilateral trade system (GATT and WTO). This event will, in the words of its organisers, "celebrate the past while preparing the way for the future" of trade liberalisation - i.e., of the destruction of rural societies, dignity in labour, the environment, cultural diversity and self-determination.4. The Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI)
The PGA conference in February, besides launching the PGA as a worldwide coordination of resistance, will make sure that the WTO conference does not happen in silence. We will discuss and coordinate decentralised actions all over the world, and set up an ad-hoc press office during the WTO Ministerial Conference, with the task of passing on information materials (press releases, photos, video footages...) on the protest actions taking place in different countries to the international press accredited in Geneva.
It might be difficult to believe, but government representatives are right now negotiating a new international agreement that is even worse than all what we have seen so far. This agreement, called Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) will, among other things, give transnational corporations the same juridical status as states, forbid all controls on the movement of capital (including speculation), make it impossible for governments to set conditions on foreign investors, force the states that want to introduce new social or environmental legislation to pay billions to foreign investors, and make it virtually impossible for parliaments to introduce new rules to limit the scope of action of multinationals and speculators, as well as forcing them to eliminate all existing rules within the next few years.5. The World Economic Forum: when the rulers of the world meet.
The World Economic Forum is a private club run by the 1.000 biggest transnational corporations of the world. It is, in its own words, "the foremost international membership organization integrating leaders from business, government, academia and the media into a partnership". Its mission is "to act as a bridge builder at the highest level between the business community and governments", creating "a club-like atmosphere to address in an action-oriented way the key economic, social and political issues on the global agenda." This article reproduces some of the information that the Forum gives about itself, and makes a call for action to give these guys a bad time during their next annual meeting.6. Speakers' Tour in Europe, March-May 1998
From the middle of March to the middle of May 1998, a number of activists will be travelling in all European countries to hold workshops about "free" trade, corporate rule, WTO and MAI. There will be up to 20 people covering each country, each person concentrating in one concrete region, going to each and every single town and village where she or he can find someone willing to organise the workshop locally. The activists will be able to speak the local language, and they will in many cases be locals of that region.7. Information materials on "free" trade and resistance
Working against the World Trade Organisation, the MAI and similar miseries is quite difficult. One of the most important factors adding to this difficulty is the lack of good, understandable critical information materials. It is almost impossible to find anything else than official materials preaching the virtues of "free" trade, technical papers full of strange words like PPM, TRIPS, TBT or SPS, or disempowering NGO lobby papers written on the assumption that all we can do is politely ask government and industry representatives to become good guys. We want to change this situation, but we need your help.The PGA Bulletin is edited by the Convenors' Committee of the 1st PGA Conference:
Central Sandinista de Trabajadores (Nicaragua) * Frente Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (México) * Foundation for Independent Analysis / Foundation for an Independent Aotearoa (Aotearoa - New Zealand) * Indigenous Women's Network (North America & Pacific) * Karnataka State Farmers' Association (India) * Mama 86 (Ukraine) * Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (Nigeria) * Movimento Sem Terra (Brasil) * Peasant Movement of the Philippines (KMP) * Play Fair Europe! * Geneva organising committee for the 1st Conference of the PGACurious? Then visit the web page of the PGA at http://www.agp.org or send a message to email@example.com with the sentence "PGA bulletin #0" in the subject line, and we will send you the whole bulletin.
Play Fair Europe! E.V.
52072 Aachen, Germany
Tel: +49-241-80 37 92
Fax: +49-241-88 88 394