Fight Continues against Globalization

By Holmes, Henry | Earth Island Journal, Summer 1999 | Go to article overview

Fight Continues against Globalization


Holmes, Henry, Earth Island Journal


Thanks to massive opposition by people from around the world, the proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), scheduled for April 1998, is all but dead. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) intended MAI as a new constitution for a global economy to protect the interests of investors across national borders. Its promoters have never been shy about their agenda to promote profit over environmental protection, ecologically sustainable development, human rights, consumer protection, labor rights and the needs of local communities. The US government has not been much better, consistently downplaying the serious flaws in the agreement. But activists who gathered in Paris in October 1998 to pressure negotiators found reasons for cautious celebration.

A weekend teach-in on the MAI and global financial crisis drew several hundred participants, and concluded with two days of street actions. A press conference and mobile action on the Paris subway ended with activists occupying the offices of the International Chamber of Commerce, broadcasting opposition from the "heart of the beast."

The following day, activists floodlit OECD headquarters to symbolize the "Dracula Strategy" -- exposed to the light of day, MAI withers and dies. Two days of negotiations were reduced to one, and downgraded to "consultations" after France announced its decision to abandon the OECD MAI proceedings and called for their transfer to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The MAI agenda is not dead by any means. Several countries support moving it to the WTO, and many of its provisions are being introduced into regional agreements, such as the Transatlantic Economic Partnership between the US and the European Union. Resistance to the agenda continues, as the economic growth model is fatally flawed. It widens the gap between rich and poor, even within nations; it destabilizes societies, and pollutes and depletes the Earth's resources. Africa, Asia, Russia, and now Latin America bear the worst of it, but repercussions are also striking Europe, Canada and the US.

The November 1998 International Conference on Alternatives to Globalization in Tagaytay City in the Philippines included activists from 31 countries.

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