26-29 February: La Via Campesina calls for a Week of Mobilization against the WTO
The 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is scheduled to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
La Via Campesina has learned that the food and agricultural negotiations during the 13th ministerial will discuss (i) a permanent solution to the issue of public stock holding, pending since 2013 (ii) the Special Safeguard Mechanism, a long-standing demand from developing countries, (iii) the substantial subsidies provided by developed countries in the Global North to their agro-industries, and (iv) industrial fishing subsidies along with the special and differential treatment requested by developing countries to safeguard small-scale fisheries.
While these issues have been under discussion for several years, the WTO has repeatedly demonstrated its irrelevance by failing to heed the demands and aspirations of much of the Global South and small-scale farmers worldwide. Instead of addressing these concerns, the WTO has only generated and aggravated the crises of global hunger, extreme poverty, agrarian conflict, and the food crisis.
For more than a decade, the failure of this institution to reach a consensus on a lasting resolution for public food stocks, despite over 80 developing countries presenting detailed proposals, clearly illustrates its alignment with the interests of the US, and other strong export-oriented countries. The WTO has become a space where the Rule of Might prevails, with a select few developed countries determining the course of global trade. Despite the assertiveness of the Global South, the WTO remains stuck in limbo, seemingly digging its own grave.
For La Via Campesina, this situation is not surprising at all. Over the past 30 years, our global movement has consistently highlighted the detrimental effects of the WTO and its role in undermining and marginalizing peasant and rural economies worldwide. The Agreement on Agriculture, operating under the guise of “rule of law,” has been the primary tool through which the WTO has imposed neoliberal reforms worldwide, solely to expand market access for Global North Corporations, and the agribusinesses based in other export-oriented countries.
La Via Campesina has actively mobilized against the WTO for three decades, emphasizing its irrelevance and disconnection from the lived realities of people in various territories.
MOBILIZE THIS FEBRUARY! VOICE OUR COUNTER PROPOSALS!
As the 13th Ministerial Meeting commences in Abu Dhabi on 26th February, La Via Campesina urges its members across countries to take to the streets and mobilize against the WTO, exposing the detrimental policies it has imposed over the last three decades. Our collective fight for fair trade, fair prices for produce, a meaningful transition to peasant agroecology, and the defense of land, water, and forests ultimately constitutes a battle against the neoliberal economic system promoted by the WTO.
In the midst of the World Trade Organization’s uncertainty, especially following the complete paralysis of its Appellate Body for Dispute Settlements, numerous countries are expressing frustration and are increasingly turning to bilateral and regional trade agreements for agricultural trade. Regrettably, these agreements often replicate the problematic Agreement on Agriculture.
La Via Campesina firmly opposes all free trade agreements that jeopardize a country’s food sovereignty, undermine the autonomy and self-sufficiency of local economies, and have adverse effects on the lives, living conditions and wages of all workers, including migrant workers and women. As a global voice of the people of the land, we call for an International Trade Framework founded on principles of solidarity, social justice, internationalism, and food sovereignty. We demand a framework that aligns with the guarantees mentioned in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas. Given the inadequacy of global multilateral institutions in establishing a fair and just trade system, peasants are taking the lead in formulating such a framework.
While further information on this initiative will be shared soon, La Via Campesina calls on all members and allies to take to the streets during the week of 26-29 February 2024 and make their voices heard. Mobilization plans can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, and activities can be shared on social media handles.
WTO Out of Agriculture! Food Sovereignty Now!
Faced with Global Crises, We build Food Sovereignty, to ensure a Future for Humanity!
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