The Earth as Mother

Letter to the WCC Member Churches on the World Trade Organization (WTO)

New director-general of the WTO (Mike Moore) greeted WCC general secretary (Konrad Raiser) when he met with WCC programme staff involved in issues of globalization. There is now an agreement to hold further discussions.

On November 29 through to December 3, 1999, the Third Ministerial Round of the World Trade Organization (WTO) will be held in Seattle (USA). The Justice, Peace, Creation team of the World Council of Churches (WCC), in response to a recommendation from its Central Committee, is currently encouraging Christians and churches to prepare for this upcoming negotiating round, and to assess of the WTO in the context of globalization.

Christians and churches can contribute to public debate and support the resistance and search for alternatives with their solidarity, ethical and spiritual discernment and life-affirming convictions. Encouraged by the members of the Central Committee who met in September 1999 in Geneva, we share with you a number of concrete proposals for the forthcoming Third WTO Ministerial Round. We informed the WTO director-general, Mike Moore, about the content of this document during his visit to the WCC on October 7, 1999.

Should there be an expansion of the role and influence of the WTO, or a moratorium for new issues on its agenda until many of the imbalances and conflicts around WTO agreements and procedures are resolved? That is a vital question in preparing for the WTOís next Ministerial Round.

Peoplesí movements -- of peasants, Indigenous peoples and women -- together with trade unions, and ecology and civil society groups around the world will be raising their voices around on this event. They do not wish just to watch and let things be decided for them. They are ready to mobilize global support in favour of those increasingly impoverished and disempowered by the consequences of accelerated economic globalization. What does the WTO really do to the world, to the people?

We do not know what the 21st century has in store for us. But we do know that we have the capacity to shape our future, with Godís grace and in cooperation and solidarity with people of good will around the world. We know of Godís love for all life including our own, which liberates us to accept this challenge. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ enables us to overcome our fear of this world and gives us the courage to engage ourselves and become active. These basic convictions should undergird, motivate and guide any action by Christians and churches in response to the challenges of economic globalization. We have an important contribution to make to the ongoing debate. With our experience, knowledge and expertise in different fields, many of us can also contribute to developing more concrete alternatives. Some recent examples of the potential for broad public widespread engagement in macro-economic issues should encourage us. The support for the Jubilee Debt Cancellation Campaign, and public outcry over the proposed OECD Multilateral Agreement on Investment indicate that people will respond actively when they perceive that a fundamental issue of justice is at stake, and when they have a constructive opportunity for action.

The WTO needs structural change. We encourage you to give your energy and knowledge to this end. Please continue your involvement and build linkages with others sharing the same concerns. Contact your government, ask them about their position regarding the negotiations. Share with them the concerns you have in common with so many others. And please let us know what you do so that we can identify new partners for our work, and help to build alliances around the globe.

Table of Contents // Editorial // Education in the International decade of Indigenous People // Two major headaches for Indigenous People // Harare and Indigenous Peoples // Land and spirituality in Africa // Land: Breaking bonds and cementing ties // Spirituality, land and land reform in South Africa // The case of the Maasai in Tanzania // Women and Land // Those who do not know the village they come from ... // What does being Indigenous mean? // Is five hundred and seven years too long for justice? // Indigenous Spirituality // Letter to the WCC member churches on the WTO // Concrete Proposals regarding the third Ministerial Round of the WTO

© 1999 world council of churches | remarks to webeditor