Dismantle the WTO

Multinational Monitor, October 1999 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Dismantle the WTO

ADD A NEW CONSTITUENCY to the long list of World Trade Organization (WTO) critics which already includes consumers, labor, environmentalists, human rights activists, fair trade groups, AIDS activists, animal protection organizations, those concerned with Third World development, religious communities and women's organizations. The latest set of critics are WTO backers and even the WTO itself.

As the WTO faces crystallized global opposition -- to be manifested in massive street demonstrations and colorful protests in Seattle, where the WTO will hold its Third Ministerial meeting from November 29 to December 3 -- the global trade agency and its strongest proponents veer between an ineffective defensiveness and the much more dangerous strategy of admitting shortcomings and trumpeting the need for reform.

WTO critics now face a perilous moment. They must not be distracted by illusory or cosmetic reform proposals, nor by even more substantive proposals for changing the WTO -- should they ever emerge from the institution or its powerful rich country members. They should unite around an uncompromising demand to dismantle the WTO.

The White House is already gearing up its cooptation machinery. It has proposed formation of a study group at the WTO on trade and labor issues, and has announced that it will henceforth subject all trade agreements to an environmental review.

For the Clinton administration, this is tried and tested ground. It helped defuse environmental, if not labor, objections to NAFTA by negotiating environmental and labor "side agreements" -- now almost universally acknowledged to be of little or no consequence.

There will undoubtedly be other reform initiatives, especially relating to openness and emanating from a variety of sources worldwide, in the weeks and months ahead.

None of them, however, will address three fatal, corporate-biased flaws in the WTO.

First, the WTO's trade rules intentionally prioritize trade and commercial considerations over all other values. Never does the WTO say, "Trade should be undertaken in such a way as promote values that the international community has agreed are important in their own right, such as protection of human rights, the environment or labor tights." WTO rules generally require domestic laws, rules and regulations designed to further worker, consumer, environmental, health, safety, human rights, animal protection or other non-commercial interests to be undertaken in the "least trade restrictive" fashion possible.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Dismantle the WTO


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?