The World Trade Organization (WTO) pursues a path to global domination of world financial policy. The organization recently celebrated the success of The Bali Package of trade agreements at its Ninth Ministerial Conference. The deal, which includes signatories from 159 member nations, has been valued at nearly a trillion dollars, with upwards of 20 million jobs at stake.
The WTO is an international organization established in 1995 under the Marrakech Agreement, with the stated goal of supervising international trade and removing barriers to such trade. It is the successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which was created after the end of the Second World War in 1948.
WTO trade negotiations are divided into multi-year discussion “rounds”, with the current Doha Development Round having commenced late in 2001. Other ministerial meetings related to the Doha Round have taken place in Cancun, Geneva, Paris, Hong Kong and Potsdam.
The World Trade Organization creates a structure for regulating global trade, formalizing economic relations between countries and sets up mediation and dispute resolution parameters designed to enforce adherence to WTO policies. The policies themselves are developed by the non-state actor agency, signed by government representatives and then taken back to member states for ratification.
The WTO is one-third of the Bretton Woods global monetary management structure, a system of fully negotiated monetary relations operating between sovereign countries. Bretton Woods creates rules and procedures to control the planet’s monetary system, international trade and economic policies. The system is named for Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, where it was signed into existence in 1944.
The other components of the Bretton Woods system are the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD).
The WTO and its Bretton Woods cohorts are all frequent targets for the anti-globalization movement, a loose-knit coalition composed of anti-globalists, opponents of neoliberalism, environmental justice activists, anti-corporatists and even anarchists who view the true goal of the World Trade Organization as providing a path for global domination for the international power elite of corporate capitalists and bankers.
This opposition to international financial institutions and transnational corporate capitalism is based upon the idea that the Bretton Woods systems do not have sufficient respect for human rights, individual liberty and the sovereignty of member states, environmental justice and sustainable development. There is also a widespread belief that the policies are detrimental to the global poor and some of the essential functions of modern democracies.
WTO meetings are frequently the scene of protests by these opposition forces, which view the private meetings as dangerous representations of the global power elite further consolidating their power and influence. These protests have turned into open conflict in the streets of several cities, coming to the attention of the media with the events known in activist circles as the Battle in Seattle in 1999.
In November 1999, the WTO convened a meeting at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center, only to be met with an unprecedented and organized mass protest in the streets of Seattle. The tens of thousands of protestors, many of whom were aligned under the moniker of the Mobilization for Global Justice, represented the second phase of active resistance in the United States to the corporate globalization activities of the World Trade Organization and IMF.
The response of security forces and the Seattle Police Department to the mostly youthful protestors was premeditated, violent and massive. The Internet, which was still a relatively new and unproven popular technology, proved invaluable in both organizing the protesters and documenting the severity of the security response.
Seattle mayor Paul Schell, in response to roaming street clashes between armed and armor-clad security forces and protestors declared a state of emergency in the traditionally liberal American city and instituted a curfew and a large “no-protest” zone. The police began using tear gas and pepper spray liberally, Washington State Governor Gary Lock summoned a couple of National Guard battalions to supplement local law enforcement, and over 500 protestors were arrested over the two-day period.
Several documentaries have been made centering on the World Trade Organization, the theories related to its alleged pursuit of global domination, and the Battle in Seattle. President Obama has publicly stated his support for the Bali Package.
By Mark Clarke