We, representatives of peasant organizations, women, migrants, workers, consumers, urban and rural poor, fisherfolks, social movements and civil society organizations are writing to express our alarm that efforts are being made to conclude the Doha “Development” Round of negotiations. We are even more concerned that this last ditch effort is being made through an exclusive Mini-Ministerial meeting that does not involve the whole membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The proposed Mini-Ministerial this December 13 to 15, 2008 by WTO Director General Pascal Lamy is so hastily organized that there will not even be enough time to read let alone review the texts that will be the basis for the negotiations. This rush into the conclusion of negotiations with a few select members is clearly a move by the developed countries together with the WTO secretariat to railroad the rest of the membership into an agreement.

Mr. Lamy is using the current financial crisis as the justification for the need to urgently conclude the Doha Round. He argues that the conclusion of the Round would be the solution to the crisis. The recent G20 declaration last November 15 in Washington DC also called for the conclusion of the Doha Round as a way to solve the current financial crisis. We disagree with Mr. Lamy and the G20 and in fact cite as an example the current commitments made under the General Agreement in Trade and Services (GATS) which has prevented countries from being able to respond to the current financial crisis and so we see the whole system of the WTO as the problem and cannot be part of the solution.

The Doha “Development” Round of negotiations, launched in 2001 in Doha, Qatar, was supposed to be about development for the developing countries. However, as years passed and several texts have been produced, it has become evident that the Round is about protecting and promoting the interests of the developed countries and their transnational corporations.

This was evident in the previous Mini-Ministerial last July 2008 in Geneva where due to the intransigence of developed countries to agree to demands of developing countries to protect their small farmers, negotiations collapsed. In those negotiations and proposed texts, majority of the proposals of the developed countries were about further opening up developing countries’ markets for agricultural and industrial goods and services. There is no sign now to show that the proposals and demands of the developed countries have changed.

To say that the Doha Round or the further opening up of developing countries’ markets will solve the current crisis is a false claim. We have seen in the Asian financial crisis and in the current financial crisis that years of trade liberalization have left countries vulnerable to the volatility of the markets and that it has prevented countries from putting in place measures to protect their people and their livelihoods.

We call on our governments to reject the attempts to conclude the Doha “Development” Round and instead work with their people in building an alternative trade model that ensures sustainable development, which puts people, their livelihoods and the environment before the interests of the transnational corporations.

We commit to mobilize at the national, regional and international levels to stop the revival of the Doha “Development” Round from now until December 13-15, 2008. This is part of our ongoing struggles against the neoliberal model, free trade liberalization and its instruments such as the WTO. We call on other movements, peoples’ organizations and civil society groups to join the efforts for a world without the WTO.

Globalize hope, globalize the struggle!

BKU (Bhartiya Kisan Union), India
Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (Solidarity of Filipino Worker)
Ecologistas en Accion (Spain)
EU-ASEAN Network
Focus on the Global South
GRAIN, International
Hemispheric Social Alliance
Jubilee South-Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (JS-APMDD)
KAU (Anti-Debt Coalition), Indonesia
KMP (Peasant Movement of the Philippines)
Korea Alliance against the FTAs
Korea Alliance of Progressive Movements
Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU)
Korean Peasants League
Korean Women Peasants Association, Korea
Mexican Action Network on Free Trade
Migrant Forum in Asia
NOUMINREN (Japan Family Farmers Movement), Japan
PKMP (National Unity of the Peasants in the Philippines)
Seattle to Brussels Network
SHOKKENREN (The National Coalition of Workers, Farmers and Consumers for Safe food and health), Japan
Southeast and East Asia La Via Campesina
SPI (Indonesian Peasants Union), Indonesia
Stop the New Round! Coalition, Philippines
Transnational Institute

To sign on to this statement, please email: [email protected]