Hong Kong: civil society presence at the WTO meeting

Civil society organisations from the North and the South of the world gathered from 13?18 December 2005 in Hong Kong, China, to monitor the progress of the trade talks at the 6th WTO Ministerial Conference, and to demand a more just, development-friendly world trade system. They hold in common the belief that further trade liberalisation without a pro-poor development perspective will have a devastating effect on the livelihood and food security of large numbers of people in developing countries, starting with the impact of agreements on trade in basic food products such as rice, chicken and soy beans. IJND, the International Jesuit Network for Development, took part in the mobilisation in Hong Kong. IJND member Klaus Vathroeder, from the Jesuit Social Centre Gumilla, tells us more about the IJND presence: We established links with some conference delegates and invited groups of small farmers to tell their stories and explain how their lives have been affected by an unjust trade system. 

We organised press briefings with international media during which people from local organisations in developing countries were enabled to explain to a wide public the negative consequences that trade has on local communities. Outside of the conference we took part in several unofficial events such as street protests. We also met with Archbishop Silvano M. Thomasi, Apostolic Nuncio and permanent observer of the Holy See with the UN in Geneva, who encouraged us in our networking efforts. Unfortunately the conference itself did little by way of response to the call of millions from across the world to protect and further develop their livelihood. Trade ministers in Hong Kong barely managed to meet the low expectations they set for themselves, let alone those of civil society groups. A press release by CIDSE (a platform of Catholic development agencies) and Caritas Internationalis states that the agreement reached at the conference is still far from achieving the development objectives decided in Doha in 2001.

To read the full statement by CIDSE ? Caritas Internationalis go to: http://www.cidse.org/