‘I’ve written to Trade Minister David Parker this morning asking him to intervene urgently over the sudden and bizarre de-registration of representatives of prominent NGOs who had been accredited to attend the World Trade Organization ministerial conference from 10 to 13 December in Buenos Aires, Argentina’, said Auckland university law professor Jane Kelsey.
The Minister is one of four vice-chairs of the eleventh WTO ministerial conference (MC11).
The groups whose accreditation was cancelled include Friends of the Earth International, the Transnational Institute from the Netherlands, British, Ugandan and Argentina delegates from UK-based Global Justice Now, Internet freedom group Derechos Digitales from Chile and Ecuador, and UNI Global Union Americas regional trade union confederation, digital economy analyst, and Indonesian representative.
The WTO’s spokesperson has confirmed the emails are legitimate, and indicated that this decision emanates from Argentina. He says the WTO does not have any explanation for who has been de-registered or why.
‘The 31 people we have so far identified are mostly expert researchers who have attended numerous WTO ministerials previously, many of whom I know and work with on a regular basis’, said Professor Kelsey.
‘From what we can see, almost all those deregistered are affiliated to the global network Our World is Not for Sale (OWINFS), which has a long-standing engagement in WTO activities. For example, OWINFS organised numerous panel sessions at this year’s WTO Public Forum on specific issues, such as agriculture, e-commerce and domestic regulation.’
A couple of low key business groups also appear to have been deregistered, but the major corporations and lobbies who are registered as NGOs, such as DHL, ebay, Sidley, International Chamber of Commerce, World Economic Forum, are still attending.
Professor Kelsey is registered to participate on behalf of the Geneva-based Third World Network, for whom she acts as a consultant, and has been selected to present a paper at the MC11 Think Track, a one-day conference co-sponsored by the Argentine government. So far, she has not heard that she has been deregistered.
‘However, I am deeply concerned for my colleagues and for the message that this sends about the future conduct of multilateral trade negotiations. The WTO has been trying to shed its reputation as a rule-making body that serves big business, and be more open and responsive to development and social concerns. Shutting out mainstream critical voices one week before the event will further damage the WTO at a time when its agreements face a growing crisis of legitimacy’.
‘I have asked David Parker to intercede with the WTO Director-General and to ensure New Zealand speaks out against this move at the WTO General Council meeting in Geneva today Geneva time, but have yet to hear from him.’