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As-Pac People's Convention on Food Sovereignty
Asia-Pacific People's Convention on Food Sovereignty
November 24-27, 2004
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Peoples' Statement of the Asia Pacific Convention on Food Sovereignty
Author: PCFS participants

We the representatives of peasants, fisherfolk, agricultural and industrial workers, women, indigenous peoples, dalits, pastoralists, scientists and technologists, and other sectors of 520 participants from 24 Asia-Pacific countries, as well as around 30 from 13 countries across the globe who joined us in solidarity have met in Osmani Memorial Auditorium in Dhaka from 25-27 November at the Asia Pacific People's Convention on Food Sovereignty.

We are opposed to the present global capitalist structure of exploitation that takes the form of imperialist globalization and is manifested in the increased forms of exploitation, violence, terror and war. This neo liberal system imposed by international financial institutions and WTO is the greatest force undermining livelihoods and devastating our lives around the world today. Institutions such as World Bank are forcing countries like Bangladesh to graze them with complete legal immunity from the crime of destruction and damage caused to the people. Peasants, pastoralists, indigenous people s , agricultural workers, dalits and fisherfolk communities are being displaced and losing land. It is destroying our biodiversity, robbing us of our genetic resources, increasing hunger and poverty thereby threatening our survival, especially to women and children. The most dramatic impact of these policies is the alarming rate of suicides among farmers across Asia due to indebtedness and displacement.

In the name of enhanced food production, the state collaborates with the global system of exploitation that is driven by transnational corporations to introduce technologies such as biocides, chemicals, and genetic engineering. These pollute our environment and deny the rich knowledge systems of farming communities. While the resistance against the unsustainable technologies are becoming even more intense, the corporations have moved from gene level to nano level that threaten life and livelihood even more. These developments have led to the monopoly control of our food systems and productive resources. Science and technology have also become an even more effective tool of exploitation.

Resisting this exploitation, peasants, indigenous communities, agriculture workers and social movements are demanding food sovereignty to ensure communities become central in food production and policy. Our resistance is evident in the growing protest against WTO, bilateral and regional free trade and investment agreements, against structural adjustment conditionalities of the IMF-World Bank, direct actions against the use of hazardous technologies, and mass campaigns against transnational corporations.

Our resistance also includes the promotion of biodiversity based ecological agriculture based on community knowledge and wisdom such as community seed conservation. We are also promoting traditional food systems that have effectively met the needs of the poor in much of the world. We are also promoting research, education and technology development to advance the people's resistance. Asserting the rights of agriculture workers, peasants, women indigenous peoples, dalits, pastoralists in alliance with workers are central to this resistance.

In the context of our struggle to transform the global system of food production, where consumption and distribution is controlled by few companies, we reiterate that food sovereignty is the inalienable RIGHT of peoples, communities, and countries. This is the right to define , decide and implement their own agricultural, labor, fishing, food and land policies which are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate to their unique circumstances. It includes the true right to food and to produce food, which means that all people have the right to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food and to food-producing technologies and resources, the ability to sustain themselves with dignity , conserve their resources and feed their societies.

To realize this, to end poverty and hunger on one hand and over-consumption, terror and war on the other, we adopt a People's Convention on Food Sovereignty that we present to the rest of the peoples of the world as a draft to support and adopt as a global convention. This will unite us even more strongly in our fight to end tyranny and exploitation by the global corporate monopoly led by Syngenta, Monsanto and Bayer, enshrine the principles of food sovereignty in international law, end feudalism and monopoly capitalism, and realize food sovereignty for the people.

Our resistance is often met with violence, imprisonment and impunity from the State. We condemn the recent massacre in Hacienda Luisita in the Philippines where 14 agriculture workers including 2 children were fatally shot during a peaceful strike against the Cojuangco-owned sugarcane plantation and mill. We demand an impartial and swift investigation into the massacre and the culpability of the police and military establishment of the Macapagal-Arroyo regime.

We condemn the military occupation and destruction of Iraq led by US imperialism, and the denial of the right of Palestinian people to self determination. Introduction of GMOs in a war-torn country like Iraq and taking advantage of military occupation to introduce a deadly technology and destroy the food sovereignty of a nation, is of serious concern to us. We express our solidarity to all the people of the world in their struggle for self-determination, and we reaffirm that food sovereignty is part and parcel of that struggle.

27 November 2004

  1. Develop appropriate, biodiversity-based agricultural technologies and recover community control over seeds and other genetic resources for agriculture. Dismantle industrial agriculture, and similar intensive livestock and aquaculture production that is premised on the use of pesticides and other poisons as well as genetic modification to achieve environmentally destructive methods of overproduction.
  2. Ensure women's access to productive resources, protect women's capacity and knowledge such as seed conservation, animal husbandry and the like.
  3. Promote and protect indigenous peoples' rights to ancestral domain and self-determination to their own production and food distribution systems and culture.
  4. Support workers' struggles for higher wages, job security, better working conditions and safe environment, benefits and welfare and trade union rights, especially of agriculture, fisheries and other food production workers.
  5. Dismantle the WTO Agreement on Agriculture that promotes dumping of subsidized excess production of the North, and reducing already limited subsidies critically needed by small farmers, and the WTO Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) that provides the basis for the patenting of seeds and potentially other life forms "" and all other regional and bilateral agreements that mirror or extend these rules.


  1. End the monopoly of giant agrochemical, agribusiness corporations led by Syngenta, Monsanto and Bayer, dismantle their control over agricultural inputs and production, and stop their production and distribution of harmful technologies.
  2. Reject and dismantle structural adjustment policies that provide access by agribusiness monopoly corporations through investment, trade and other mechanisms in order to dominate and control productive resources and food production systems.
  3. Condemn and dismantle investment agreements that guarantee the establishment and profits of such transnational corporations and resist the creation of new agreements in the WTO and at regional and bilateral levels.
  4. Stop patenting of all life forms, end biopiracy and dismantle the WTO TRIPS which promotes the corporate control and ownership of genetic resources and other food production resources.
  5. Develop effective price management and community postharvest technology and end TNC and merchant price manipulation of produce and control of postharvest facilities.


  1. Ensure sufficient food stocks giving priority to domestic procurement and supporting local production through price and procurement mechanisms.
  2. Develop local markets from the community lev
The People's Convention on Food Sovereignty
Author: PCFS participants


Food is essential to life. Food not only provides the basic sustenance for physical survival and nutrition for healthy human existance; food is also a key element of people's culture.

The world now produces enough food to feed everyone, and yet millions of people, including 6 million children under the age of five, die each year as a result of hunger and chronic malnutrition. Everyday the toll is 25,000 deaths from hunger. [1] This number does not include preventable deaths from illnesses related to malnutrition and poverty.

Hunger exists because food and resources are not equitably distributed. In 2000 the richest 20% enjoyed 86% of the world's total income and wealth while the poorest 20% still only has one percent. [2] Neoliberal globalization threatens to further intensify this imbalance as corporations of rich industrialized countries utilize new technology and policies to wrest control over genetic and other resources for food production, leaving the poor even more powerless and further preventing them from feeding themselves and their communities.

Food security remains an elusive but critically important goal of communities and countries. The irony of increasing global hunger in the midst of plenty reminds us that food security cannot simply be the UN FAO definition of being able to ensure that food is available at all times, that all persons have the means and access to it, that it is nutritionally adequate in terms of quantity, quality and variety, and that it is acceptable within the given culture.

Neoliberal policies implemented by multilateral institutions such as IFIs, WTO and even FAO are continually breaking down the capacity of countries and peoples for self-sufficient food production and assuring food for everyone in their societies. While new technologies and " ‹Å“modern' production controlled by corporations and promoted by these policies promise supposedly better and greater food production, these present new products that are poisoned and genetically modified for the poor rural and urban majority who have lost their livelihood and income as a result of corporate takeover of agriculture and food production, and poison the environment in the process.

For nations and countries, a rights-based policy to ensure community and peoples control over food systems is the only solution in assuring food for all, especially the poor and marginalized. Food sovereignty is the right of peoples, communities and countries to determine their own production systems related to agricultural labor, fishing, food and land and associated policies which are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate to their unique circumstances.

Food sovereignty is the power of people and their communities to assert and realize the right to food and produce food and fight the power of corporations and other forces that destroy the people's food production systems and deny them food and life. Nations and states must exercise food sovereignty to protect, promote and develop the people's food sovereignty from which it draws power.

Statement of Principles and Goals

  1. Every human being has a fundamental, inalienable right to safe nutritious and culturally-appropriate food. As food is most essential to life, the right to food is an extension of the basic human right to life.
  2. Systems of food production, distribution and exchange is a preeminent responsibility of the community and society. Assuring food stock, securing resources for food production, equitable distribution of food and management must be ensured and controlled by the community, giving first priority to the majority small food producers and conservers and preventing ownership and control over resources and production by corporations.
  3. Food policy must be premised on achieving self-sufficiency in food production through the local food producers, particularly farmers, fishers, indigenous communities, pastoralists, etc., and not the corporations; such policy inevitably gives priority to domestic food production enhancing livelihood of people and not over export agriculture and fisheries that almost always indicates loss of livelihood and consequently compels people to be exploited in export oriented food industries.
  4. Food production programs must be premised on mobilizing the majority small food producers and providing them, especially the marginalized sectors like women, Dalits and indigenous peoples, access to resources such as land, water, seeds and livestock.
  5. Food policy and food programs must assure access to food not only through sufficient income for everyone, but also by providing mechanisms for free or subsidized distribution of nutritious and culturally-appropriate food to those who have insufficient income, as well as to those who suffer from natural and man-made calamities.
  6. Food distribution and food production programs of communities and societies must be formulated and created with the full participation of the people, especially ensuring the participation of marginalized sectors of producers and consumers. Such programs must recognize and promote the initiative of the people to assert their rights to access to food and food production.
  7. Food is inextricably linked to nature and the environment. Conservation of genetic resources and the environment should be promoted in food production through biodiversity based- ecological methods, providing the framework for technology development in food production, conservation and distribution that runs counter to patents on life and genetic modification of crops and livestock.
  8. Food and by extension food production as fundamental human activities embody key elements of culture of a community and society, and such role must be recognized, conserved and promoted.
  9. Safe and nutritious food must be assured through effective mechanisms and regulations the formulation and implementation of which promote and safeguard the interests of small producers and consumers in processes that involve the full participation of the people.
  10. As food sustains life and society, food must remain an element of peace and cooperation among communities and among nations and societies. Turning it into instruments of whatever form of domination and even war by one community or society over another runs counter to norms of humankind in relation to food.


  1. National food programs must be based on strong community food programs that promote self-reliance and self-sufficiency, equitable distribution of food especially to the poor and supported by national food distribution programs.
  2. Structural adjustment conditionalities of international financial institutions like the World Bank that dismantle food programs, food price regulations, and various forms of public food distribution must be rejected and reversed.
  3. Workers wages and people's incomes must assure access to basic food and other needs through employment with dignity. Trade union rights must be promoted and protected so that living wages and working conditions are assured.
  4. Price control laws and mechanisms must be put in place to ensure affordable and stable prices for staple and basic food products. Programs to provide free staple food or depending on circumstances, at subsidized prices, for the poor and marginalized.
  5. The promotion of monopoly by food manufacturing corporations like Nestle and the resulting monocultures created by monopoly food retailers like Coca cola and Macdonalds erode food sovereignty and must be stopped. So must their strategy to use international trade in services and investment agreements to secure control over every aspect of the food system.


  1. Implement genuine agrarian, fisheries, forestry and rangeland reform premised on the free distribution of land and other key productive resources to the tillers, effective access to marine, forestry and pastureland resources, and ensuring comprehensive and integral distribution of production resources, and the strengthening and development of their production through cooperation and technology development.
Programme of Activities
Author: Secretariat, APRN

Wednesday 24 November 2004

Arrivals & Registration at Hotel Sundarban

Thursday 25 November 2004

(7:00 - 8:00) - Breakfast at Hotel Sundarban
(8:00 - 9:00) - Buses will pick-up participants at Hotel Sundarban to Osmany Auditorium

Day 1 Theme: Over-arching Issues and Food Sovereignty

(9:00 - 10:00)

  • Ceremonial Opening (Speak-out & Cultural Presentations from Food Producers)
  • Short briefing on Bangladesh
  • Welcome Remarks from the organizers

(10:00 - 11:30) Morning Plenary
Panel Discussion 1- Existing structures & critique of the present model

  • Analysis of the food problem
    Farhad Mazhar, UBINIG
  • What is food sovereignty?
    Sarojeni Rengam, Pesticide Action Network Asia & the Pacific
  • Who is the enemy?
    Pat Mooney, ETC Group

(11:00 - 13:00) Morning Plenary
Panel Discussion 2 - How to address the problem of food and agriculture?

  • Popular struggle
    Rafael Mariano, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas
  • Building alternative perspectives
    Vandana Shiva, Research Foundation for Science, Technology & Ecology
  • Aspect of the overall struggle
    Antonio Tujan, Jr. Asia Pacific Research Network/IBON

(13:00 - 13:30) Media Briefing

(13:00 - 14:30) Lunch break with Cultural Presentations, Food Festival, Exhibitions & Other events (Osmany Auditorim Lobby)

(14:30 - 17:30) Afternoon Sessions
Simultaneous Workshops

  1. WTO and other neo-liberal instruments
    Organization: GATT-Watchdog (confirmed), ARENA, IGJ
  2. An Introduction to Human Rights: Concept and Practice
    Organization: Rights and Democracy
  3. Geopolitics of food and war
    Organization: Bisan (confirmed) / PARC
  4. Community & national politics on food
    Organziation: Soceity for Rural Education & Development
  5. Land reforms and Food sovereignty in the context of globalization from Dalit perspective
    Organization: Andra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Union
  6. Agro-chemical and food corporations and food trade & Evaluation of the peasant movement
    Organziation: IMSE/SRED/PANAP/KMP

Evening Session
(17:30 - 18:30) Workshop on the Draft Food Sovereignty Convention Proposal

(17:30 - 20:00) Film Showing (Auditorium)

(20:00 - 21:00) Bus ride from Osmany to Hotel Sundarban

Friday 26 November 2004

(7:00 - 8:00) Breakfast at Hotel Sundarban
(8:00 - 9:00) Bus ride from Hotel Sundarban to Osmany Auditorium

Day 2 Theme: Food Production and Access to Productive Resources

(9:00 - 10:00) Recap/ Cultural Presentations

(10:00-11:30) Morning Plenary
Panel Discussion 3- Food Production

  • Land issue and land reform
    Prem Dangal, All Nepal Peasant Association/Asian Peasants Coalition
  • Water and acquatic resources
    Thomas Kocherry, WFFP
  • Genuine agrarian reform vs. neoliberalism
    Azra Talat Sayeed, Roots for Equity

(11:30-13:00) Morning Plenary
Panel Discussion 4 - Corporate control or people's control?

  • Genetic resources & seed
    Renee Velve, GRAIN
  • Agro-ecological alternatives
    P.V. Sateech, Decan Development Society
  • Indigenous systems
    Joan Carling, Cordillera People's Alliance

(13:00 - 13:30) Media Briefing

(13:00 - 13:30) Lunch Break
Cultural Presentations, Food Festival, Exhibitions & Other events (Osmany Auditorim Lobby

(14:30 - 17:30) Afternoon Sessions
Simultaneous Workshops

  1. Struggle vs GMO seeds campaign
    Organization: PANAP/NESSFE
  2. Migration and food sovereignty
    Organizations : APMM/KHIS
  3. Experiences in land struggles
    Organizations : SRED/IMSE/ coordinate with KMP
  4. Biodiversity-based food production strategies
    Organizations : UBINIG
  5. Experiences in water struggles (incl irrigation)
    Coordinators: : IBON/ERAC
  6. Women in rural production, fisheries and caste fundamentalism and food insecurity for Dalit women
    Organizations : Roots for Equity (confirmed)/ NGO-COD, CWR/APWLD, SRED, Tamil Nadu Women's Forum
  7. Comparative study of national food production
    Coordinators: ERAC
  8. Community production systems
    Organizations : SRED/Roots for Equity/IMSE
  9. Hybrid Rice
    Organizations : GRAIN, UBINIG
  10. Agricultural labour and marginal farmers perspective
    Organizations: : Andra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Union

Evening Session
(17:30 - 18:30) Workshop on the Draft Food Sovereignty Convention Proposal (Drafting committee)

(17:30 - 20:00) Film Showing (Auditorium)

(20:00 - 21:00) Bus ride from Osmany to Hotel Sundarban

Saturday 27 November 2004

(7:00 - 8:00) - Breakfast at Hotel Sundarban
(8:00 - 9:00) - Bus ride from Hotel Sundarban to Osmany Auditorium

Day 3 Theme: Access to Food

(9:00 - 10:00) Recap/ Cultural Presentations

(10:00-11:30) Morning Plenary
Panel Discussion 5

  • Equity and right to food
    Antonio Onorati
  • Destruction of state distribution systems
    Biplab Halim, Institute for Motivating Self-Employment
  • Geopolitics, corporate policies of food aid
    Izzat Abdul Hadi, BISAN

(11:30 - 13:00) Morning Plenary
Panel Discussion 6

  • Safe, quality food vs GMO food
    Kim CACPK, Indrani Thuraisingham, Education and Research Association for Consumer
  • Cultural diversity and role of foodFarida Akhter
  • Income and access to food
    Apo Leung, Asia Monitor Resource Center

(13:00 - 13:30) Media Briefing

(13:00 - 14:30) Cultural Presentations, Food Festival, Exhibitions & Other events (Osmany Auditorim Lobby)

(14:30 - 17:30) Afternoon Sessions
Simultaneous Workshops

  1. Right to food, wages and incomes
    Organizations : APMM/AMRC/EILER/KHIS/PILER
  2. Comparative study on land tenures
    Organizations: IBON/ SEARICE/Nouminren
  3. Protection and promoting uncultivated food
    Organizations : SANFEC
  4. Indigenous peoples food rights and right over the forest resources
    Organization : Andra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Union
  5. Bio safety and TRIPS
    Organization : TWN
  6. Food sovereignty and consumer rights
    Organization : CAP / Consumer International
  7. Women and food
    Organizations : CWR/APWLD
  8. WTO out of agriculture
    Organizations: : GATT-Watchdog, ARENA, PFSNAF
  9. Street food vending
    Organizations : Consumer International Regional Office Asia and the Pacific
  10. Food aid
    Organizations : INFID /AIDWATCH
  11. Food sovereignty and consumer rights
    Coordinators : CAP (confirmed) / Consumer International
  12. Natural resources conservation
    Minerals Policy Institute/KONPHILANDO
  13. Food aid
  14. An Introduction to Human Rights: Concept and Practice
    Coordinators : Rights and Democracy

Evening Session
(17:30 - 18:30) Finalization of the Food Sovereignty Convention Proposal

(18:30 - 19:30) Adoption of Convention Statement

(19:30 - 20:00) Ceremonial Closing

(20:00 - 21:00) Bus ride from Osmany to Hotel Sundarban

Logistical Information
Author: Secretariat, APRN
1. About Dhaka

Bangladesh lies in the northeastern part of South Asia. Bounded by Indian territory on the west, north and east and a small strip with Myanmar in the southeast and by the Bay of Bengal on the south, Bangladesh has an area of about 144,000 sq km.

Bangladesh is one of the world's most densely populated countries with 112 million people with an average density of about 800 people per square kilometer. They are descended from several racial and sub-racial groups that entered the subcontinent Asia over the past 5000 years. About 75% of the population live in the rural areas. 86.6% of the total population are Muslims, 12.1% Hindus, 06% Buddhists, 03% Christians and 04% others.

Dhaka is the capital city of Bangladesh. Dhaka has a total land area of 1416 sq. km with over 9.9 million population in 2001.

2. Conference Arrangements

The Convention will be held at Dhaka's Osmany Memorial Auditorium. This convention facility is a three-storey building equipped with a large auditorium and make-shift workshop rooms to accommodate your workshops and other side events.

The convention organizers have already made a block booking at the Hotel Sundarban (Address: 1/D Free School Street, Sonargaon Road, Dhaka) at a negotiated rate of US$30-35 per night. Please contact the Secretariat for reservations.

3. Secretariat Contact Details

The conference Secretariat has two (2) working groups-- Manila and Bangladesh. Manila is in-charge of international participants while Bangladesh is in-charge of local participants.

For International Participants:
APRN Secretariat
c/o Jaz Buncan
3/F SCC Building
4427 Int. Old Sta. Mesa, Manila, Philippines
Tel: (63-2) 7132737 | 7132729 | 7130910
Fax: (632) 716-0108
Email: secretariat@aprnet.org

For Local Participants:
UBINIG (Policy Research for Development Alternatives)
5/3 Barabo Mahanpur
Ring Road, Shaymoli
Dhaka 1207, Bangladesh
Tel (880) 2-8111465 or (880) 2-8116420
Fax (880) 2-8113065
Email: nkrishi@bdmail.net or nayakrishi@siriusbb.com

4. Applying for Bangladeshi Visa

All foreign nationals need visa to enter Bangladesh. Conference participants are encouraged to apply for a VISA from the nearest Consulate or Embassy in your area. Government clearance is necessary for all foreign nationals entering the Bangladesh. All participants of the convention need to have clearance from Bangladesh High commission and Mission through the Ministry of Foreign and Home Affairs. All participants must send their duly-accomplished pre-registration form to the Secretariat on or before September 30 to effectively facilitate visa requests.

6. How to Get to Dhaka

There are plenty of international flights going to Dhaka International Airport. Many travellers use Dhaka as the gateway to the Indian subcontinent to take advantage of cheap fares from Europe. Bangkok and Kolkata are the main destinations for flights in and out of Bangladesh.

There are regular flights from all important cities in Asia and beyond. The Airlines, which fly to Dhaka include, Biman Bangladesh Airlines, British Airways, Emirates, Thai, Gulf, Dragon Air, Japan Airlines, Aeroflot, Uzbek Air, Indian Airlines, Oman Air, Sandia, Malyasian Airways, PIA, Qatar Airways, Iran Air.

Biman the national flag carrier of Bangladesh now carries the nation's flag to 8 South Asian destinations, 6 South-East and Far-Eastern destinations, 9 destinations to Gulf and Middle-East region and 6 European and North American points.

The situation with overland crossings to/from India is vague. The main crossings are at Benapole-Haridispur (on the Kolkata route) and Tamabil-Dawki (on the Shillong route).

7. Arrival and airport transfer

Participants are advised to send arrival details to the Secretariat in to enable us to arrange airport pick-ups.

Taxi fare to hotel from the airport is USD10.

8. Registration Fee

Registration fee is US$50. This covers meals and accommodation from November 25-27, 2004. This fee is waived for all APRN member participants, speakers and APRN supported participants.

9. Hotel accommodation

Accommodation has been arranged for the participants on a shared room basis in the same hotel as the conference venue. Accommodation has been booked for November 25-27, 2004 and November 25-28 for APRN members.

If you wish to extend your stay or you need to arrive early, please coordinate with Manila Secretariat so we can make the necessary arrangement.

10. Language

The conference will be in English and Bengali. Simultaneous translation will be provided.

11. Reconfirmation of return air travel

The conference Secretariat will reconfirm your return ticket. Please provide us with the flight details.

12. Meals

All meals will be served in the hotel. Please inform the Secretariat any dietary requirement and special needs. Meals will be available the morning of November 25 until the evening of November 27.

13. Reimbursement

For participants with CONFIRMED travel subsidy, please keep all your official receipts and a copy of your plane ticket with boarding passes and submit them to the conference secretariat on the first day of the conference. Reimbursement in US dollar will be given before the end of the conference. For APRN members with reimbursements, the USD100 membership fee will be deducted from your refund. This rule applies only to APRN members who have not paid their annual dues.

14. Money

Currency: Bangladeshi Taka (Tk) = 100 paisa. Notes are in denominations of Tk500, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. Coins are in denominations of Tk5 and 1 and 50, 25, 10 and 5 paisa.

Currency exchange: All foreign currency exchanged must be entered on a currency declaration form. Hotel bills must be paid in a major convertible currency or with travellers cheques. Many shops in the cities will offer better rates of exchange than the banks.

Credit & debit cards: Limited acceptance of American Express, Diners Club and MasterCard outside the capital. Check with your credit or debit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other services, which may be available.

Travellers cheques: Can be exchanged on arrival at Dhaka Airport. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take travellers cheques in US Dollars or Pounds Sterling.

Currency restrictions: The import and export of local currency is limited to Tk100. Reconversion of local currency is permitted up to Tk500 or 25 per cent of the amount exchanged on arrival. The import of foreign currency is allowed but amounts greater than US$150 must be declared on arrival. The export of foreign currency is limited to US$150 or the amount declared on arrival.

Exchange rate : Bangladeshi Taka/US Dollar 59.3750 as of September 10, 2004

Banking hours: Sun-Wed 0900-1500, Thurs 0900-1300. Selected banks may open on Saturdays.

15. Internet

The rooms have no internet connection. But there should be an internet caf ƒÆ’ © near the hotel

16. Weather and time

It is moderate and cool in November. Max 29 ƒâ€š ° C Min 11 ƒâ€š ° C. GMT+6.00 hours.

17. Airport Tax

The departure tax for visitors leaving the country is Tk300 payable in local currency.

18. Electricity

220/240 volts AC; 60 Hz. Plugs are of the British 5 and 15 amp; 2 or 3 pin 9 (round) type.

Author: Secretariat, APRN

Organized by:

  • Asia-Pacific Research Network (APRN)
  • People's Food Sovereignty Network Asia-Pacific (PFSNAP)


Addressing poverty and hunger will never be just about the inherent right to food but moreso, it is about asserting the people's food sovereignty in food production and distribution. Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to define their own agriculture and food policies, to protect and regulate domestic agricultural production and trade to achive self-reliance in food and agriculture. As the world prepares for the 2006 World Forum Summit +10, people's organizations and advocates vowed to put Food Sovereignty in the official agenda of the Summit. This conference serves as the official kick-off towards this WSF +10 campaign.

About 500-1,000 farmers, women, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, youth and NGO participants are expected to attend this Convention.

Organized by the People's Food Sovereignty Network Asia-Pacific and hosted by the Policy Research for Development Alternative (UBINIG), this conference hopes to provide analysis on current trends in food and agriculture, promote people's food sovereingty as alternative to solve problems in food and agriculture, prepare people's interevention for the 6th WTO Ministerial Conference and other regional/bilateral agreements and to promote and strengthen local, national and popular movements and intiatives.

Bandung in the 21st Century
Research Conference on Bandung in the 21st Century
April 14-16, 2005
Bandung, Indonesia
Message to the International Research Conference on the 1955 Afro-Asian Summit in Bandung
Author: Prof. Jose Maria Sison, Chairperson, International Coordinating Committee, International League of Peoples’ Struggle

On behalf of the International League of Peoples"  Struggle (ILPS), I wish to express deep appreciation to Asia Pacific Research Network for cooperating with the ILPS Study Commission No. 2 and organizing this international research conference and to the Institute for Global Justice, Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria and Konsorsium Pembaruan Agraria for hosting it. To all of you and to all the distinguished guest speakers and participants from various parts of the world, I convey the warmest greetings of solidarity and best wishes of the ILPS as you celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Bandung Conference with your conference..

The theme of the conference,, " …“Bandung in the 21st Century: Continuing the Struggle for Independence, Peace against Imperialist Globalization and War"  is of great importance and acute urgency. We need to reaffirm and draw inspiration from the principles upheld and propagated by the Afro-Asian Summit Conference of 1955 . These principles are still valid and relevant today in the face of the worsening conditions of oppression and exploitation under the shadow of imperialism and neocolonialism.

We, in the ILPS, are guided by the Spirit of Bandung in striving to arouse, organize and mobilize the broad masses of the people against the evil forces of imperialism and reaction. We fight for national and social liberation, development and social justice, human rights, unjust war and militarism, the rights of all the oppressed and exploited and the aspirations for a just peace and all-round social progress.

We agree with the aims of your conference: to deepen the study and analysis of issues pertaining to development and imperialist globalization, the need for national independence and the principles of peaceful coexistence against the rampages of the sole superpower and its cohorts, to identify issues for advocacy and topics of research and to create interest in conducting research and the role of the people in the struggle against neoliberal globalization and war, and to promote cooperation in developing the strategy and tactics of the people's struggle.

I. The Historic Significance of the Bandung Conference of 1955

The Bandung Conference of April 18-24, 1955 was preceded in a substantive way by the formulation of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence in 1954 by China and India as guide to state-to-state relations and to international relations in general. The principles are mutual respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual nonaggression, noninterference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence. These motivated the Bandung Conference and its Final Communique, They were integrated into and elaborated in the Declaration of Ten Principles, which are as follows:

  • Respect for fundamental human rights and for the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
  • Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations.
  • Recognition of the equality of all races and of the equality of all nations large and small.
  • Abstention from intervention or interference in the internal affairs of another country.
  • Respect for the right of each nation to defend itself, singly or collectively, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
  • Abstention from the use of arrangements of collective defense to serve the particular interests of any of the big powers. Abstention by any country from exerting pressures on other countries.
  • Refraining from acts or threats of aggression or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country.
  • Settlement of all international disputes, by peaceful means, such as negotiation, conciliation, arbitration or judicial settlement as well as other peaceful means of the parties' own choice, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
  • Promotion of mutual interests and cooperation.
  • Respect for justice and international obligations.

The Bandung Conference sought to consolidate the national sovereignty and independence of countries of Asia and Africa that had become newly-independent from colonialism since the end of World War II in 1945 through the defeat of fascism, to promote the process of decolonization, especially in Africa where plenty of colonies still remained and to work for socio-economic development as the substance of national independence in the face of obvious efforts of the US, British and other imperialists to undermine and negate national independence through neocolonial methods of economic and financial control as well through the US drive to impose treaties of military alliance and install overseas US military bases in the context of the Cold War.

Of the 29 countries represented in the conference, 23 came from Asia and 6 came from Africa. China, India and Indonesia were among the most active and instrumental in making the conference successful. The Philippine delegation, headed by the long-time US stooge Carlos P. Romulo, acted according to the baton of the US. He stood out by trying to stir up dissensions and water down the formulation of the conference documents. At that time, the US controlled and directed the foreign relations of the Manila government under the US-RP Treaty of General Relations. However, the delegations were guided by their experience of anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggle, their peoples' demands and aspirations and by the UN charter and international law..

Let us consider the positive consequences of the Bandung conference. It inspired the peoples and countries of Asia and Africa to struggle for real national independence, development, social justice and independent foreign policy against imperialism and colonialism. It led to the organization of the Afro-Asian peoples' solidarity and Afro-Asian associations of youth, journalists, writers and the like. It pushed the UN general assembly to proclaim the decades of decolonization and development in the 1960s and 1970s. It encouraged the spread of armed struggles for national liberation in Asia, Africa and Latin America. It gave impetus to the formation of the Non-Aligned Movement of states. It paved the way for the demands for a new international economic order and a new international information order in the UN general assembly in the 1970s..

But the imperialists headed by the US were not idle. They sought to reverse the trend of national liberation, people's democracy and socialism. In the Cold War, they used all kinds of instruments against the people and against anti-imperialist and socialist movements and governments. They used anticommunist propaganda, neocolonialism for economic and financial control (through the US Export-Import Bank, the IMF, ADB, and the GATT) and, of course, violence to undermine anti-imperialist governments and suppress revolutionary movements for national liberation and democracy. Among the most vicious crimes of the US and its Cold War allies from 1956 onwards were the wars of aggression against the Indochinese peoples, the brutal suppression of anti-colonial movements in Africa, the massacre of at least 1.5 million Indonesian people and the imposition of fascist military rule on the people in many countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

In the 1970s, the US could not really solve the problem of stagflation. As the US and world capitalist system were in serious economic trouble in the latter half of the 1970s, the Soviet Union and its East European satellites were also conspicuously in economic stagnation and decline and China rapidly took the same revisionist road of capitalist restoration and accommodation with the world capitalist system that the Soviet bloc had taken much earlier. The US found some leeway and conditions favorable for pushing monetarism and neoliberalism, for taking the offensive against the proletariat of the entire world and against the aspirations for genuine national independence and development in Asia, Africa and Latin America, for cutting back on social spending in favor of high-tech military production and for concentrating capital in the US through superprofits and borrowing from foreign buyers of US securities (stocks and bonds).

II. Relevance of Bandung Conference to the Present

The crisis of the US and world capitalist system has gone from bad to worse, from the 1980s to the present. The shift in policy stress from Keynesianism to monetarism and neoliberalism at the end of the 1970s has not solved but has aggravated the crisis. The US claims to " …“new economy, with inflationless growth based on high-tech production"  in the second half of the 1990s have proven ephemeral. US prosperity and consumerism have been propped up by huge amounts of foreign borrowing that covered up huge trade deficits. Just like the rest of the world capitalist system, the US is vulnerable to the crisis of overproduction in its own economy. The financial collapses have come crashing down on the real economy.

The Bush regime has taken advantage of the 9/11 attacks to undertake " …“military Keynesianism"  as a complement of neoliberalism in economic policy and to adopt the " …“neoconservative"  policy of using the military power of the US as sole superpower to impose its will on peoples, nations and countries. It has embarked on a course of heavy expenditures on war production contracts and overseas military deployment for intervention and aggression supposedly to stimulate the economy.

The " …“war on terror"  is the pretext for state terrorism against the people in the US and abroad and for whipping up war hysteria, war production and wars of aggression. Under the neoconservative policy, the US is arrogantly and brutally using chiefly its supreme military power to engage in " …“preemptive strikes"  and wars of aggression against rivals and recalcitrants. It operates with a broad spectrum of instruments (economic, financial, military, cultural and diplomatic) torealize the Pax Americana iit wants for the 21st century . It is frenziedly imposing its hegemony on other countries, pretending to spread democracy and expanding its economic territory(sources of oil and other raw material, markets, fields of investments and spheres of influence).

Now, the US is in the throes of a severe protracted crisis unprecedented since the end of World War II. The economy continues to stagnate. The real rate of mass unemployment is high. The budgetary surplus at the end of the Clinton regime is gone and the budgetary deficit is growing rapidly. The trade deficit is widening without cease. The domestic and foreign debt is mounting. The US is failing to serve as the " …“main engine of growth"  for the global economy. Its role as the " …“consumer of last resort"  and " …“limitless borrower"  is in jeopardy.

But the US and other imperialist powers always try to shift the burden of crisis to the proletariat and people of the world, especially in Asia, Afrca, Latin America and the retrogressive countries of the former Soviet bloc. They are intensifying oppression and exploitation in these parts of the world. They plunder their social wealth and natural resources. They aggravate and deepen the conditions of neocolonialism. And they occupy as colonies the countries most ravaged by neocolonial economic policy and by wars of aggression such as Iraq and Afghanistan and by civil wars, particularly in Africa.

The main contradiction in the world is still between the imperialist powers headed by the US and the oppressed peoples and nations who inhabit the overwhelming majority of countries and whose ranks have been expanded by the retrogression of countries previously belonging to the Soviet bloc. This contradiction is intensifying because the imperialist powers are stepping up oppression and exploitation. But the legal democratic mass movements against imperialism and reaction are spreading and armed revolutionary mass movements for national and social revolution are developing.

The US and other imperialist powers are increasingly in conflict with governments that assert national independence and the social aspirations of their people as well as from governments that must take a stance of national independence either due to public demand or due to unbearable demands from one or more of the imperialist powers. The threats of imperialist aggression, economic sanctions and actual wars of aggression have been directed against countries that assert national independence.

More than ever the peoples, nations and countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the retrogressive countries in the former Soviet bloc need individually and collectively to assert, realize and exercise the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and the Ten Principles of the Bandung Conference. Conditions of crisis demand that they use all possible and necessary forms of struggle in order to frustrate and defeat the unjust impositions of the imperialist powers and strive to put an end to imperialist plunder and war. They can take advantage of the contradictions among the imperialist countries, now being driven by the crisis to engage in more bitter competition and to seek the redivision of the world. They can avail of the resurgent anti-imperialist and socialist movements arising from the contradictions between the monopoly bourgeoisie and the proletariat in the imperialist countries.

III. Conclusion

All the major contradictions in the world will continue to sharpen. The crisis of the world capitalist system inflicts terrible suffering to the broad masses of the people. At the same time it is a favorable condition for people's resistance. It drives them to fight for national and social liberation. The noble and intelligent course of action for the people is to fight and defeat imperialism for the purpose of bringing about a new and better world of national freedom, democracy, social justice, development and enduring peace.

The International League of Peoples' Struggle is dedicated to rally the people to action and help bring about a new and better world and end the unjust world of imperialist plunder and war. I hope that this international research conference will shed light on the current conditions and on the ways for the people to overcome imperialism and its cohorts. May this conference lead to further research that would inform, enlighten and assist the democratic forces and the mass movements of the people for national and social liberation.

Bandung in the 21st century, greater challenges against imperialist globalization and war
Author: Antonio Tujan, Jr.

The Asia-Africa Conference better known as the Bandung conference was held in Indonesia fifty years ago in April 1955. In that conference representatives of 29 nations many of them newly independent met to call for peaceful coexistence and cooperation, and condemn colonialism, racism, imperialism and the threat of a deadly nuclear war. Great leaders like Egypt's Nasser, Indonesia's Sukarno, China's Chou Enlai, Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah among many others called for independence, self-determination, and peace for the nations and countries of the Third World, quite a number of them still under colonial occupation at that time.

Coming out of World War II, many newly independent countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East celebrated their victorious struggle, but at the same time were concerned with the growing Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. Their stance of neutrality while calling for an end to the arms race and atomic weapons, genuine independence and peace especially in the face of the occupation of Palestine or apartheid in South Africa was disconcerting for the United States which called on the so-called free world to join the fight against communism.

The Bandung conference was significant in many ways. It initiated the Non-Aligned Movement of developing countries, most of them newly independent, that acted as a third force in the Cold War, pushing for the Third World aspirations of liberation, independence, development and peace. The conference laid forth the principles and aspirations for peace, independence, and cooperation, termed as Dasa Sila Bandung or the Ten Principles of Bandung, to wit:

(1) Respect or fundamental human rights and for the purposes and principles of the charter of the United Nations.

(2) Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations.

(3) Recognition of the equality of all, races and of the equality of all nations large and small.

(4) Abstention from intervention or interference in the internal affairs of another country.

(5) Respect for the right of each nation to defend itself singly or collectively, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.

(6) (a) Abstention from the use of arrangements of collective defense to serve the particular interests of any of the big powers. (b) Abstention by any country from exerting, pressures on other countries.

(7) Refraining from acts or threats of aggression or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country.

(8) Settlement of all international disputes by peaceful means, such as negotiation, conciliations, arbitration or judicial settlement as well as other peaceful means of the parties' own choice, in conformity with the Charter if the United nations.

(9) Promotion of mutual interests and co-operation.

(10) Respect for justice and international obligations.

These principles are in accord with the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, initiated by China, India and Myanmar in 1954, which include mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit and peaceful coexistence.

Bandung was greatly received by the people themselves, many of them the freedom fighters who won both the war against the fascism of the Axis powers and for independence from their colonizers. The conference presented the voiceless poor peoples around the world as their great leaders gave expression to their aspirations and concerns. It gave small and weak countries a chance to speak about themselves, that they were not ignorant, and they can rule themselves.

Conscious of the great power of imperialism, President Sukarno of Indonesia warned in his opening speech: " …“And, I beg of you, do not think of colonialism only in the classic form which we of Indonesia, and our brothers in different parts of Asia and Africa, knew. Colonialism has also its modern dress, in the form of economic control, intellectual control, actual physical control by a small but alien community within a nation. It is a skilful and determined enemy, and it appears in many guises. It does not give up its loot easily." 

And further that " …“We can demonstrate to the minority of the world which lives on the other continents that we, the majority, are for peace, not for war, and that whatever strength we have will always be thrown on to the side of peace." 

Bandung in the 21 st century

While the Bandung conference was held at the end of World War II and the era of colonialism, and the opening of a new era of neo-colonialism and the Cold War, fifty years later we celebrate the golden jubilee of that milestone under a dramatically changed globe. The Cold War has ended with the demise of the Soviet Union ushering an even more challenging and threatening situation for the developing countries and the rest of the world.

The imperialist crisis of overproduction has intensified in the last half of the 20 th century but the collapse of the Soviet bloc has created an opportunity for the export of excess capital not only to these so-called economies in transition but the to rest of the world through neoliberal " ‹Å“globalization'. Politically, the collapse of the Soviet Bloc has also resulted in the isolation of countries that were openly antiimperialist or assertive of independence while strengthening the role of the United States as the " ‹Å“globocop' or the world's supercop.

The result of this combination is an extremely challenging situation for peoples and their nations and countries desiring social and national liberation and independence. On one hand a campaign of neoliberal globalization riding on the triumphalism of the " ‹Å“market' versus the so-called failure of statist economies of the Soviet Bloc is forcing open developing countries around the world to even more oppression and exploitation through trade and invesment by imperialist multinational corporations. In this way, imperialist countries transfer the burden of their recessionary crises to other countries mostly poor developing countries, by dumping their excess capital and products in the form of greater debt, rape of their natural resources, exploitation of cheap labor and plain dumping of cheap subsidized industrial goods including food.

On the other hand, the principles of peaceful coexistence are swept aside by the globocop which dictates on a weakened United Nations system to disregard sovereignty and territorial integrity of its members states (such as in the case of Haiti, Panama, or Iraq). Otherwise it acts unilaterally when it finds multilateral processes too slow to invade countries under various pretexts, isolate countries that continue to defy it, bamboozle countries into submission to support its various multilateral and regional economic and political initiatives that in the end assure imperialist control and profit besides assuring the survival of an American economy increasingly dependent on the financial, investment, trade and other means of support from the rest of the world. Building on its successes in the previous decades, the US has escalated this political-military domination into the " ‹Å“war on terror' that has become the framework for militarization of the world and simultaneous wars of aggression in various countries.

Fifty years after Bandung, the issues of neocolonialism, imperialism and war have bercome even more relevant providing more difficult challenges to those struggling for self determination, independence and world peace. The issues have become more complex and convoluted such as " ‹Å“globalization'; more deceptive and illusory such as the " ‹Å“war on terror' which uses the false spectre of terrorism as an excuse to attack all opposition, including liberations movements and governments accused of supporting " ‹Å“terrorists'.

In the past three decades of globalization and the end of the Cold War we can say that neocolonialism has expanded and wrought more havoc on the Third World while gains in building independent societies have been reversed. Political and economic structures for self-reliant development have been dismantled in an imperialist free for fall for economic and political domination, oppression and exploitation of the rest of the world. Policies for self reliant industrialization are swept aside to give way to TNC investments and trade, replacing nascent national industries with unsustainable export processing zones. Agriculture development programs premised on self reliance and subsistence are replaced with TNC dominated agriculture principally for export of secondary, exotic crops like tropical fruits and flowers while key food and agriculture products are controlled by global agribusiness corporations.

Self-reliant economic development

The debt crisis and neoliberal globalization in trade, investment and finance have combined to destroy what gains Third World economies have achieved since World War II to provide sustainable economic development for their peoples. Economies in Latin America which had made great strides in domestic industrialization and self-sufficiency are now greatly weakened, a number of them teetering or recovering weakly from financial collapse such as the case of Mexico, Argentina and Brazil. Economies in Africa and South Asia have been reduced to sheer poverty while others, mostly in East and Southeast Asia, have been forced to restructure along export promotion strategies to sustain growth.

The debt burden has been particularly destructive to many countries that have been forced to keep on borrowing to sustain an economic framework producing net capital outflows. This situation of perpetual indebtedness is due to a continual need for foreign currency due to imbalanced neocolonial trade where raw materials are kept cheap while imported industrial products are comparatively more expensive. This is combined with a continuous outflow of superprofits from neocolonial investment patterns. International Financial Institutions have systematically implemented a policy of perpetual indebtedness (which they now call " ‹Å“sustainable debt') in order to assure interest superprofits for these transnational and multilateral banks.

Already crushed from the debilitating cycle of debt, these economies were put under structural adjustment programs that imposed the neoliberal triad policies of privatization, deregulation and liberalization, supposedly to attract more foreign exchange earnings from increased foreign investment and trade. But the seeming financial relief in the form of increased foreign exchange earnings from exports or inflows from investment has not been forthcoming for most of the countries in Africa and Asia. Less than twenty countries in Asia and a few more in Latin America are the few who have " ‹Å“benefited' from these neoliberal policies.

But the benefits are not genuine. Many of these countries remain grossly indebted or are in a far worse financial situation, not only in the form of increased outflows due to increased imports and profit repatriation by investors, but also leading to financial collapse such as the ones that hit Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and the Asian conflagration. Now the Philippines teeters due to dramatically reduced revenues from tariff and taxes as a result of neoliberal policies and ballooning debt.

Even development cooperation and aid has not been spared from the neoliberal juggernaut of imperialism. While development cooperation that was meant to help countries rebuild after the war and address poverty, especially for the colonies and neocolonies has never escaped the overall framework of imperialist interests and was used to advance neocolonialism, this is now being systematically redesigned to implement the policies of neoliberal globalization. The IMF and World Bank were the main institutional implementors of this imperialist design and continue to act as gatekeepers for development aid in order to ensure that indebted countries dependent on ODA loans and grants hew to the policies of globalization.

Under the mantra that development aid is no longer sufficient due to global economic crisis, developing countries are pushed to depend on exports and foreign investments as sources of foreign exchange, and what few funds available as aid are being used to enforce neoliberal policies and support efforts to draw in foreign investments through privatization schemes, infrastructure development and technical aid for facilitating trade and investment.

Trade and Economic Cooperation

Bandung represents an economic paradigm for self-reliant development for newly independent countries. Along the principles of self-determination, Bandung called for economic independence and self-reliance and development cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. Along these principles, countries implemented import substitution industrialization programs and the strengthening of the government's role in steering economic development and the people's welfare through strong social reform and services besides providing economic services to marginalized sections of the economy.

Except for a few countries, these policies are being swept aside and replaced by an export-led, foreign investment financed growth strategy according to the dictates of the global imperialist powers through structural adjustment programs of the IFIs and the WTO. The United Nations has also been transformed into a active agent of globalization, promoting World Bank themes of free market policies, good governance and greater corporate intervention in public policy and programs. With its tiger economies promoted as symbols of globalization's success, Asia has been projected to be in the forefront of this new paradigm.

Regional bodies for economic cooperation have been coopted as instruments for globalization and control of imperialist countries and their corporations. The ASEAN has AFTA and the ASEAN Investment Area which have become mechanisms for expansion of markets for TNC trade and investment. The ASEAN has also facilitated the entry of special arrangements for Japan, US and Australia besides South Korea, China and New Zealand, either as a group or for bilateral agreements. The APEC, NEPAD and SAARC have been established also for economic cooperation for countries in the Pacific Rim, Africa and South Asia but have become mechanisms to promote liberalization in trade and investment as well as promote the process of implementation and expansion of the World Trade Organization.

The WTO has become the ultimate mechanism for the promotion of globalist neoliberal policies. Because of its strength as an organization with enforcement mechanisms and the preeminent framework for economic relations in trade and investment, countries have surrendered economic independence and selfdetermination to the rules of the WTO.

Trade, and investment, are instruments for economic cooperation and are important mechanisms to promote pro-people development in Third world countries. But this goal can only be realized if trade and investment is made under the Bandung principles of mutual benefit, equality and self-determination. Under such principles, economic cooperation must recognize the different conditions and objectives of each country which must be mutually respected.

However, the neoliberal framework imposes a one-size fits all policy irrespective of particular situations and needs of countries and as a result actually favor the rich and put the poor countries which need special mechanisms for protection and support at a gross disadvantage. Neoliberalism is a false free trade framework that allows monopoly corporations and the imperialist countries to exercise dominance to oppress and exploit the weaker countries. Furthermore, the removal of mechanisms of protection such as quantitative restrictions to trade as well as the mechanisms of support such as the reduction of subsidies for marginalized economic sectors result in even more economic devastation, a reversal of the role of trade and investment.

These forms of oppression are not new to the developing countries, which have been former colonies and are now neocolonies of the imperialist powers. Globalization is clearly an imperialist mechanism to intensify neocolonial policies on a multilateral as well as bilateral framework in a free for all for the various imperialist countries under the baton of US imperialism.

Such exploitation translates to misery for the people of the colonies and semicolonies. Workers receive the brunt of cost cutting by corporations that are desperately trying to survive the global crisis of overproduction. Fierce competition and government promotion of neoliberal measures of subcontracting, as well as the flood of cheap imported products and the privatization of public services have led to bankruptcies of national corporations and even multinational corporations, in massive job cuts and flexibilization in hiring schemes and an overall loss of job security, rights and welfare.

Domestic food production, most of it subsistence peasant agriculture is rapidly being displaced due to dumping of cheap subsidized exports from the North resulting in bankruptcy and dislocation of peasant communities. Even traditional agricultural exports from the colonies and semicolonies like sugar, coconut oil, jute, cotton and others which are produced inefficiently using backward technologies are also forced out by competition not only in international markets but even in the countries where they are being produced.

Traditional sectors suffer heavily from neoliberal globalization as indigenous peoples' ancestral domain, fishing communities and others are taken over by multinationals through speculative development projects and increased TNC investment in natural resource extraction sectors. In the end, the marginalized sectors of women and children, Dalits, migrants and the like suffer from severe dislocation.

Militarized globalization and eroding the right to self-determination

The aspirations for independence and self-determination were the focus of Bandung, but these are severely eroded in the face of militarization and imperialist aggression. Western imperialist powers have used the collapse of the Soviet Union in order browbeat and isolate countries which are openly antiimperialist or resist imperialist domination. The United Nations system was used by imperialism to a certain degree to isolate countries politically and economically under various excuses or accusations like harboring terrorists, human rights abuses or drugs. Selective attacks on Libya for example or the economic blockade on Cuba have been made to appear and accepted as legitimate through US imperialist economic, political and military pressure on other countries.

Intervention in Haiti and Panama have opened the way for the imperialist efforts for legitimization of aggression supposedly to institute regime change for various " ‹Å“crimes', imagined or real. But this is not the point. That it has to be debated whether there were indeed weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to justify invasion to topple the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein flis in the face of the fundamental issue of independence and sovereignty for Iraq no matter if such weapons do exist as it does in the US, Israel and many other countries.

Indeed the concept of the " ‹Å“rogue state' and the whole discourse about terrorism and regimes harboring accused terrorists is being used simply to justify the gross violation of sovereignty of independent countries. This is a far cry from the celebration of independence, the universal condemnation of imperialist aggression or invasion and call for peaceful coexistence which permeated the conference at Bandung fifty years ago and reverberated throughout the Third World.

This political and miltitary offensive of imperialism has been made possible as a logical consequence of the fall of the Soviet bloc, the domination by the US as the sole superpower over the G7 that has made it possible to neutralize the United Nations system and browbeat the rest of the world, and the active collusion and brazen puppetry of regimes such as that of the Philippines and Pakistan which act as supporters to legitimize imperialist aggression.

The US " ‹Å“war on terror' is the height of this offensive and builds on two decades of the more recent successes of imperialist aggression. Painting a so-called " …“Axis of Evil"  in a wide swath across Asia from North Korea in the northeast right through to Iraq in the southwest, the US Bush administration has declared war on antiimperialist regimes and liberation movements, typically calling them terrorists as a militarist would, and lumping anyone fighting imperialism and globalization as terrorists as well.

The so-called threat by terrorism dramatized by 9/11 serves the political purpose of justifying this military offensive against anyone actively fighting imperialism. Many people, even among the social movements, are blind to this reality and have consciously or unconsciously bought into the terrorist discourse, supporting US imperialism in attacking its enemies and putting themselves objectively on the side of the empire.

Peaceful coexistence and development cooperation or militarized pacification and domination?

The severe economic crisis faced by the imperialist system continues to breed social and political unrest, internal conflict, as well as conflicts between neighboring countries, while racism, xenophobia and intolerance are promoted by rightist forces among the people. Neoconservatism and fascist movements are finding some support by a deluded population and opportunities to advance in imperialist and other industrialized countries. In this way, they providing social support for militarism and imperialist aggression as response to political and armed conflicts around the world. They promote the paradigm of global security founded on pacification and artifical peacekeeping and conflict resolution.

Genuine peace can only be achieved through social justice and equality, and abiding by the five principles of peaceful coexistence: mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in internal affairs, equality and mutural benefit and peaceful coexistence. These principles and the whole spirit of Bandung for independence against imperialism have been systematically destroyed over the years. As the sole superpower, the US has shown its brazen might in attacking antiimperialist countries and liberation movements and countries assertive of independence. From pressure tactics and domination to outright intervention and invasion, US imperialism is now using the full range of its economic, political and military power not only on the colonies and semicolonies but also on other industrialized and imperialist countries.

The official Asia-Africa Conference organized by governments in the last week of April in Jakarta and Bandung have nothing to offer that would approximate even a shadow of the original Bandung conference. It is a travesty to the spirit of Bandung but not surprising that fifty years after, the commemorative conference will unveil the so-called New Strategic Partnership which does not question globalization but serves to perpetuate and strengthen neoliberal policies in trade between participating Asian and African countries. This New Strategic Partnership does not intend to provide a counterpoint to imperialist globalization but instead strengthens the so-called " …“multilateral trading system" , a euphemism for WTO and work for " …“governance and democracy" , a euphemism for World Bank post-Washington consensus conditionalities.

The only hope for sustaining the struggle to achieve the aspirations of Bandung in the 21 st century lie in the people, the people's movements and the few countries led by antiimperialist regimes who constitute the last bastion in the struggle for peace, self-determination and independence against imperialism in the post-Cold War period. This effort will be dificult, but Bandung will remain a beacon of hope, determination and struggle in the 21 st century.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia Copyright  ƒâ€š © 2003, Columbia University Press.


Guide The Museum of Asian-African Conference by the Department of Foreign Affairs of The Republic of Indonesia Foreign Policy Research and Development Agency: The Museum of Asian ""African Conference.

" …“Bandung Conference, voice of weak countries" , Mohsen Al-Emad, the Yemen Times

" …“Let a New Asia and a New Africa be Born!" , Speech by President Sukarno at the opening of the Asia-Africa Conference, April 18, 1955.

Paper: Reforming the United Nations and global governance
Author: James Goodman

In April 1955 the 29 Asian and African governments meeting in Bandung launched a reform agenda for the international system. These emergent post-colonial elites met on the cusp of what looked like a post-imperial era, in the aftermath of one of history's most dramatic transformations. A world freed from imperial rule "" in the form of the colonial state "" was dramatically coming into being. For many, though, the task was half-finished - there was still a world to win. Just as the structures of direct rule had been swept away in the wave of anti-colonial nationalism, so the structures of indirect rule, of imperialism-at-a-distance, via various modes of neo-colonial domination, could also be overcome. The approach charted at Bandung was to shape agenda of post-colonial elites for much of the remainder of the Twentieth Century (Weiss 1986). The conference began a process of building consensus across post-colonial states towards a " ‹Å“New International Economic Order': the fate of that program demonstrated the limits of reform. The process, though, remains a powerful symbol. The fact that consensus was possible, expressing a collective aspiration of the majority of the world's states, is remarkable (see Biel, 2000: 122).

Today, 50 years after Bandung, we have an opportunity to draw out what is specific about the current period, and think through the current prospects for reform. A key question is how to characterize contemporary modes of domination and resistance. Imperialism has made a revival with much official rhetoric about the responsibilities of the American Empire. But is this simply more of the same "" the rehabilitation of colonization as a civilizing impulse? Likewise, to what extent are the foundations and mechanisms of today's anti-imperialism any different from the situation in the 1950's? Is it, again, more of the same, namely nationalist anti-imperialism, its future tied to post-colonial elites, and their national development projects? Or are we in a new context, with new anti-imperialist social forces at play?

A key issue in this debate is the emergence of " ‹Å“global governance', as against national government. Governance may be simply defined as a framework of rule that draws on governing authority, but does not rely on it. There have always been multiple sources of power in international politics, interacting to produce the prevailing framework of governance. In the current period though, governance has very effectively displaced government, both domestically and internationally, to shape and constrain the model of development worldwide. The global ascendancy of neo-liberalism and rhetoric of market " ‹Å“freedom' has dramatically re-geared government power so that it now primarily serves market players rather than national publics. In contemporary global governance the " ‹Å“freedoms' of capital are institutionalised within inter-state agreements, disciplining states to facilitate accumulation. Here, sovereignty is exercised to promote the rights of " ‹Å“corporate citizens', rather than national citizens. The resulting " ‹Å“new constitutionalism' is both structural and institutional, vested with its own system of sanctions in the form of potential or threatened capital flight (Gill 2003). The market governance agenda is felt most keenly as an imperialist drive for market freedoms: today the primary mission of the United States is to extend market forces, and thereby the remit of (US) market access. The opening paragraph of the 2002 US National Security Strategy makes the position clear: there is, quite simply, one " ‹Å“single sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy, and free enterprise', a model that is " ‹Å“right and true for every person, in every society' (White House 2002). Expressing the universal " ‹Å“obligation to produce exchange-value', the market must everywhere be defended, with force if necessary (Wood, 2003, p. 153). Under US command the market has become not just the spirit of capitalism, but the spirit of civilization.

We may, then, want to speak of a profound crisis of national government in post-colonial contexts, where public power is overwhelmed by marketising pressures, enforced by structures of global governance. In the North, wealth rises hand-in-hand with deindustrialization; in some favoured Southern societies industrialization proceeds, but with failing income generation (Arrighi, 2003, note 38). The rest are sucked dry by resource extraction and insolvency and then by-passed in their entirety as " ‹Å“surplus to requirements' (Munck, 2000, p. 142). A " ‹Å“globalisation of poverty' holds the system in place, imposing peripheralisation on whole swathes of the globe, including post-communist " ‹Å“transition' societies and newly industrialising " ‹Å“emerging markets' (Chossudovsky 1997). Instabilities are forced to the periphery, expressed in the " ‹Å“structural adjustment programs' imposed by the " ‹Å“Wall Street-Treasury-IMF complex' in concert with the European Union and Japan (Harvey 2003, p. 185).

The national development project "" the elite post-colonial project at the heart of the Bandung reform program "" has significantly unraveled: may such states are forced into permanent crisis-management (Amin 1997: 97). Where the post-colonial state offered a means of containing the effects of capitalist accumulation, it is now progressively re-geared to globalising interests. Post-colonial states are hollowed-out as vehicles for popular aspiration and in many contexts, " ‹Å“deeply conservative forces have stepped into [the] vacuum' (Gill 2003, p. 210). With a failing development project there is radical displacement and fragmentation, forcing a shift into informal sectors and from national to communal forms of identification. Here, anti-imperialism is replaced by various forms of reactionary insurgency "" as Ahmad puts it, " ‹Å“terrorism is now where national liberation used to be' (Ahmad 2003, p.43).

Less pessimistically, the growing development crisis has also led to the emergence of new anti-imperialist and related political forces, grounded in a revolt of social movements, North and South, against the new-liberal project. In 2002 Michael Hardt drew a parallel between the Bandung of 1955 and the World Social Forum, both as " ‹Å“attempts to counter the dominant world order' (Hardt 2002). Bandung laid the foundations for a challenge to global order by Southern governments, heralding an era where national movements linked to national states offered the basis for challenging capitalist hierarchy. For Hardt the WSF also heralded a new era, the era of a global " ‹Å“alternative' and the entry of " ‹Å“the multitude' as a historical player, a " ‹Å“non-national alternative to the present form of globalisation that is equally global' (Hardt 2002: 3).

Such an agenda needs careful analysis. Clearly a key aspect of any counter-strategy is to reclaim public power - but in what form? Politicising private power, with the goal of de-commodification, or even of simply regulation, begs the question of institutional power. Peoples movements may challenge private power, asserting new public " ‹Å“commons' through new autonomous institutions. But how are these structures to be brought together, to present a meaningful challenge to global " ‹Å“market forces'? Is the national state a vehicle for such mobilisation, or is it fatally compromised by neo-liberal global governance? By the same token, what are the consequences of vacating national-level institutions, leaving them uncontested? Likewise, what is the scope for a global reform agenda "" to what extent must today's " ‹Å“new emerging forces' establish alternative structures?

In many countries the alternative forces are influencing national politics, forcing significant challenges to the fore. Perhaps, in this nexus, then, the Bandung reform project can be revived as a meeting point of movements and disaffected elites. With strengthening movements against corporate recolonisation there may be scope for a retrieval of state capacity, arm-in-arm with a reformed and revived UN. With regrounded national capacity, embedded in frameworks of counter-globalist solidarity, perhaps there is scope to envisage a reformed global governance, a " ‹Å“peoples global governance'. Centrally important is the ideological and structural context, and the role of intervention in shaping the strategic options that may be emerging. To explore these, the focus here is on comparing Bandung 1955 with Bandung 2005, focusing on the question of colonialism.

Bandung 1955: global decolonisation

The Bandung " ‹Å“third-worldist' project was a project of emergent Asian-African post-colonial elites. It was built on the success of anti-colonial movements, and was always a relatively compromised reform agenda, founded on South-South solidarity. The conference itself was primarily concerned with political issues of sovereign autonomy and neutrality vis-a-vis the Soviet-US conflict. The priority was to construct a new political centre, and assert the political legitimacy of post-colonial leadership, grounded in national sovereignty. In his opening speech to the conference, Sukarno called for unity between the " ‹Å“new Asia' and the " ‹Å“new Africa', a solidarity to " ‹Å“safeguard' the world. The premise was that Southern autonomy relied upon Southern mobilisation. The communiqu ƒÆ’ © thus begins with South-South cooperation issues, calling for a new UN development fund, for joint action to stabilize commodity trade, for measures to encourage processing of commodities in the South, for Southern financial institutions to encourage joint ventures, and for measures to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy and development of shipping lanes (in Abdulgani, 1980).

There was disagreement about how to pursue the program, with Sukarno for instance favoring new institutions to express the priorities of the world's " ‹Å“new emerging forces'. The majority position was, though, to use existing governance structures, rather than create separate arrangements. The communiqu ƒÆ’ © thus specifically ruled out the creation of a " ‹Å“regional bloc', although participating countries did commit to " ‹Å“prior consultation', effectively to caucus, at international forums. The position reflected a prevailing confidence that post-colonial peoples "" soon to constitute the majority of the world's national governments "" could work together to re-balance world order. If post-colonial states were the source of leverage, then the UN was the primary site of leverage. Despite being an artefact of the imperial system the UN was committed to defending the trappings of national sovereignty. Further, the UN's foundational purpose of defending peace and security could be redefined to make peace to inseparable from justice, and security inseparable from development. The UN thus could promote rights to self-determination and related development rights as the necessary foundation for collective security.

South-South mobilisation was geared in the first instance to halting Northern interventionism. An important objective for delegates at Bandung was to prevent further intervention in Asia, especially in China, and a key outcome was the PRC's endorsement of the " ‹Å“five principles of peaceful coexistence' expressed in the communiqu ƒÆ’ ©.[ii] These principles enshrine sovereign independence and non-interference, and were as much a signal to the North as to other Southern states.[iii] The principles later found their way into the UN system via the General Assembly's " ‹Å“Declaration on granting independence to colonized countries and peoples', asserting the right of peoples to " ‹Å“freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development' (United Nations 1960). While the norm of non-intervention was immediately breached, not least by Southern countries (Appadorai 1971), it became a key guiding principle of the post-colonial order, delegitimising interventionist pressure from the North.

The Bandung program spawned the Non-Alignment Movement and the Group of 77, and the demand for the reform of global governance, later embodied in the " ‹Å“New International Economic Order' (NIEO). The NAM developed a shared analysis of the world's development crisis, identifying the source of the development problem in global structures of neo-colonialism, and in institutions of global governance overwhelmingly geared to the interests of the allies. As the Bretton Woods system faltered in the early 1970s, the reform agenda gained ground, with the NAM solidifying Southern positions and the G77 pursuing these through the UN (Weiss 1986: 28). The immediate effect was a limited re-balancing the United Nations system to meet the priorities of the majority world, now represented through the newly legitimized elites of post-colonial states.

The NIEO agenda generated proposals for reform, including for market access; it also produced more challenging elements, such as the right to nationalize assets, and for the South to build its own collective self-reliance (Biel 2000). The program faltered as the North, by the 1970s a minority in the UN, refused to cooperate. The formation of the G7 in 1975 symbolised the North's resulting shift away from UN-centred multilateralism. Yet limited leverage was gained, and equally important, an alternative model of Southern solidarity was put into practice. That model rested on national autonomy, exploiting inter-state politics to force the moral authority of the global majority onto the world stage. It has remained in place: most recently deployed through the " ‹Å“G21' at the Cancun Ministerial of the World Trade Organisation, suggesting a continuing agenda of South-South solidarity (Morphet 2004). Such solidarity has, though, been primarily defensive, in being used to block Northern initiatives rather than to promote a positive Southern agenda. The reform agenda has been forced onto the defensive by an imperialism born anew, that has drastically weakened state capacity in the South, and is now in the process of developing new rationales for recolonisation.

Bandung 2005: global recolonisation?

In 2005 the elite post-colonial project is on a knife-edge. Either a revived and reframed reform agenda will emerge to reground Southern autonomy, or the slide into de facto recolonisation will accelerate. Today, the contradiction between the sovereignty of post-colonial states and the deepening structures of global inequality is pressed to breaking point. With marketisation " ‹Å“all of the contradictions germane to the capitalist system are rising to the surface in the new epoch of globalisation, in particular, over-accumulation and worldwide social polarisation' (Robinson 2002, p. 226). From the outset the postcolonial project was articulated in relation to local and cross-national contexts, and in this respect, the existence of sub-state fragmentation is nothing new, neither is the existence of transnational imperialism. Where Bandung 2005 most clearly differs from Bandung 1955 is that in the current context the weakness of post-colonial states is presented not as an imperative for a national development agenda or an agenda of global structural change "" but as an imperative for recolonisation. Direct intervention is back on the political agenda: as the US Council on Foreign Relations put it in 2003, in the report " ‹Å“Iraq the day after', " ‹Å“the partisan debate over nation-building is over' (quoted in Foster, 2003). For the dominant powers the question has become not why intervene, but how, and under what conditions.

In the first instance, intervention is framed as a responsibility. In 2001 the Canadian Government's " ‹Å“International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty' asserted a " ‹Å“responsibility to protect', as against a " ‹Å“right to intervene' (ICISS 2001; Fast 2003). When a state fails to exercise its responsibilities, these fall on the " ‹Å“community of states'. The report suggested that such a responsibility redefined sovereignty as conditional upon respect for on human security and human rights. It spoke of a " ‹Å“guiding principle in favour of military intervention for human protection purposes' (ICISS 2001:16). Here the issue is not so much one of humanitarian intervention, as intervention to restore state capacity to exercise responsibility. The ICISS report argued that the " ‹Å“just cause' for military intervention was " ‹Å“large-scale loss of life' or " ‹Å“large-scale " …“ethnic cleansing" ', both " ‹Å“either actual or apprehended'. Intervention would also have to be a last resort, and proceed with the right authority, right intention, be proportionate, and have reasonable prospects of success. While the ICISS Report cites " ‹Å“situations of state collapse' as the type of " ‹Å“conscience-shocking situation' that would merit intervention, it did not discuss the possible causes of such situations (ICISS 2001: 33).

Other reports favouring intervention have been more willing to discuss the developmental context for societal breakdown. In late 2003 a report on " ‹Å“Failed and collapsed states in the international system' was co-authored by four Northern-based NGOs "" The African Studies Centre, the Transnational Institute, the Centre of Social Studies and the Peace Research Institute (based, respectively, in Leiden, Amsterdam, Ciombra and Madrid). Three causes are cited: the weak legitimacy of post-colonial regimes, the end of Cold War ideological stassis, and the imposition of neo-liberal policies. The direct consequence is intra-state armed conflict, with more than half of the fifty less-developed states experiencing war in since1983.

Southern state elites, the Report argues, have struggled to " ‹Å“sell their sovereignty on the most favorable terms to private agents' (African Studies Centre et al 2003: 10). Power has been dramatically shifted from the public sphere into the shadowy world of private power, disappearing into free trade zones, public-private " ‹Å“joint ventures' and other private concessions, and into tax havens, home to over half of the world's finance flows. In many contexts, state military and private militias have become inter-penetrated, protecting the corporate license to operate, offering access and guarantees for illicit as well as licit commodity flows, captured by corrupted Northern and Southern elites. The flows are also of labour, from South to North, tacitly encouraged by Northern states to create an internal pool of vulnerable reserve labour. Entire sectors of the economy "" in the United States for instance "" become dependent on such labour, draining Southern countries, fueling their vulnerability. Peoples are simply left to " ‹Å“find ways of apprehending the massive historical forces they feel bearing down on their lives' (African Studies Centre et al 2003: 17): in place of state capacity and post-colonial sovereignty, societies fragment into enclaves of rich, gated communities, and ghettos of the poor, maquiladoras, favelas and urban poor communities.

The NGO Report concludes with three scenarios: first a " ‹Å“malign scenario' where Northern security is further destabilized by the implosion of Southern societies, with unilateral interventions generating new world wars; second, a " ‹Å“benign scenario' of strengthened multilateral cooperation to address the causes of the development crisis; third, a " ‹Å“recolonisation scenario', where Northern states introduce not " ‹Å“nineteenth century colonialism' but new modern versions of " ‹Å“shared sovereignty" ¦ in negotiation with local populations' perhaps in the form of mandate or trust territories. Although there is no attempt weigh up the three scenarios, the report points to the third " ‹Å“recolonisation' option as a means of preventing the " ‹Å“malign' scenario from making headway. That a group of relatively progressive, if mainstream' development NGOs should produce such a report is very revealing of the new context in which the recolonisation debate is being played out. The Report effectively suggested that intervention is necessary but be brought under the wing of multilateral institutions, perhaps with particular Northern states given special responsibilies, thus institutionalising recolonisation as preventative action to assist failing states.

In many respects, an explicit shift to recolonisation would complement the extensive interventionism that is already in place. For much of the post-colonial world, norms of neo-liberal " ‹Å“good governance' now apply as a precondition for participation in international affairs. Prevailing orthodoxies of rational and efficient administration, of a state that facilitates markets, that in World Bank parlance is " ‹Å“steering not rowing', are broadly disseminated (World Bank 1997).[iv] As noted, such governance hollows-out Southern states, fragmenting political authority, and produce intra-state conflict and militarisation. Crucially, such conflict can no longer be contained in the South, and insistently spills over into the North. In response the North, led by the US, behaves like a minority enclave, constructing security borders against the encroaching threat to their international security. The " ‹Å“containment' impulse "" as played out in the rhetoric of Northern " ‹Å“border protection' "" is increasingly matched with strategies of " ‹Å“early diagnosis and prevention', entailing active intervention to forestall or preempt " ‹Å“state failure' (Bilgin and Morton 2004). This is borne out in the logic of Northern-led military intervention "" whether unilateral or multilateral "" which is most intensely targeted against the presumed threats to Northern security. But the North's interventionist impulse, played out most dramatically in the so-called " ‹Å“War on Terror', addresses symptoms of Northern insecurity, not its systemic causes. Such intervention exacerbates the divides between a Northern bloc of security states, acting as an integrated conglomerate, and Southern states, that are increasingly peripheralised, under-legitimised and destabilized (Shaw 2002: 89).

Northern unilateralism is directly linked with efforts to reform the UN system to offer a genuinely multilateral alternative to great power intervention. Since the failure of the NIEO the reform agenda has been channeled into institutional proposals. Proposals to strengthen the UN's commitment to development, for instance, reemerged in 1985 with the suggestion of a " ‹Å“council for economic security'(Ewing, 1986). The debate intensified again in the immediate post-Cold War era, and the fiftieth anniversary of the UN, with the Commission on Global Governance report (1995)[v], and proposals from the Secretary-General for more coordinated, multi-sectoral responses to the development crisis (Secretary-General 1997). Proposals centred on drawing the UN development agencies closer to the IMF-WB and the WTO, with an economic security council created to coordinate policy across the fields of action (Carlsson 1995). The proposals remained in large part on the table, as UN development institutions fell into the role of monitoring the impacts of neoliberalism (through the HDI for instance), and articulating alternative norms for policy-making, for instance on women, on the environment and on human rights.

In terms of intervention, post-Cold War the UN became directly involved in new modes of " ‹Å“humanitarian intervention', dubbed " ‹Å“second generation' of peacekeeping (Pichat 2001). Broadly these were aimed at intra-state conflict and either took the form of assistance to states unable to maintain order (Mozambique, Cambodia), or action against authorities deemed to be abusing power (Somalia, Bosnia, East Timor, Afghanistan). UN practice pointed to the need for a new UN-centred multilateral intervention regime, a regime that " ‹Å“can help us avoid the dangerous and often counterproductive effects of unilateral armed imposition and the equally dangerous effects of untrammeled national autonomy in the midst of gross abuses of human rights (Doyle 2001: 233). In recent years this agenda has gathered pace, and is now most clearly embodied in the UN Secretary General's report to the General Assembly of March 2005, " ‹Å“In larger freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all'. The Report was prompted by the breakdown of consensus in the UN Security Council in late 2003 over the question of intervention in Iraq, and can be seen as a direct response to the unilateralist agenda for market " ‹Å“freedoms', that President Bush spelt out in the US National Security Strategy of 2002.

" ‹Å“In larger freedom' is a proposal for comprehensive reform of the UN so as to address the developmental causes of insecurity. It asserts a program to promote " ‹Å“freedom from want' and " ‹Å“freedom to live in dignity', as well as " ‹Å“freedom from fear'. In its preamble the position is put simply: " ‹Å“we will not enjoy development without security, we will not enjoy security without development' (Secretary General 2005: 6). The developmental crisis is cited as a key source of international instability, addressed through enhanced " ‹Å“Millennium' commitments, and the rhetoric of a reciprocal North-South " ‹Å“partnership for development'. Revealing the ideological bias, Southern states are to take " ‹Å“primary responsibility' for development, " ‹Å“putting in place the policies and investments to drive private-led growth'; Northern responsibilities are limited to implementing their existing Monterrey, Doha and Millennium commitments, providing for market access and development assistance (2005: 5). The message, then, is for more of the same "" for market integration guided by good governance "" reproducing the developmental orthodoxy. On the other side of the development-security equation, the report moves to a " ‹Å“more comprehensive concept of collective security', to include developmental insecurity (poverty, deadly diseases, environmental crises), and civil as well as military insecurity (civil violence, organised crime, terrorism) (2005: 25).

To promote these " ‹Å“larger freedoms' the Report marks out a new more interventionist profile for the UN, " ‹Å“a new security consensus based on the recognition that threats are interlinked' (2005: 57). Importantly, the Report states that only the UN may authorize military action to address anything other than an immediate threat. The Charter is interpreted as enabling the Security Council to endorse preventative military action, against any " ‹Å“threats to international peace and security', including " ‹Å“genocide, ethnic cleansing and other such crimes against humanity' (2005: 33). The key principle for such intervention is the " ‹Å“responsibility to protect' "" the approach favoured by the 2001 ICISS group "" along with the same series of caveats on proportionality, purpose, of military action and likelihood of success. Action against " ‹Å“terrorism' is couched in terms of the need for a broader definition of terrorism, as any act that involves: " ‹Å“intent to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants' in order to intimidate a population, government or international organisation (2005: 58). While stating " ‹Å“it is time to set aside debates on so-called " …“state terrorism" ', claiming that state power is already " ‹Å“thoroughly regulated', the Report argues the right to resist the state cannot " ‹Å“include the right to deliberately kill or main civilians'(2005: 26).

" ‹Å“In larger freedom' is, then, an attempt to satisfy the North's thirst for security, while at the same time address development crises. The contradictions in the balancing act reflect the inherent limitations of a UN reform program in the context of a deeply divided global polity. How, one may ask, can the UN reconcile the need to address an intensifying development crisis with the agenda of dominant players, that is already creating new categories of limited sovereignty, as protectorates and permanently occupied territories proliferate across the globe. The Washington Post, for instance, described the Report as an attempt to " ‹Å“reconcile the gap between poor nations, who want the UN to devote more attention to fighting poverty and disease, and the US and many of its allies, who are pressing for more UN action on terrorism'.[vi] The centre of gravity for the Report was in Europe, where it attracted " ‹Å“100%' approval from the European Council.[vii] Meanwhile, it drew fire from US spokespersons keen to legitimize unilateral US action, and from Southern leaders concerned at the impact of a " ‹Å“responsibility to protect' on Southern sovereignty, and of a definition of terrorism that rules out the notion " ‹Å“state terrorism'.

The UN's current reform proposals thus directly reflect the emergence of a new interventionism, grounded in twin developmental and security crises. The most remarkable feature of the new " ‹Å“progressive' colonialism is that it is Northern states that are seen as somehow capable of acting in the interests if the soon-to-be recolonized peoples. This is all the more remarkable if it is accepted that a key cause of state failure has been Northern policy. Northern corporate classes and state elites are culpable, if not responsible, and themselves have been corrupted by the marketisation process. This systemic crisis of public power extends deep into the heartland, to major Northern corporations and even to the presidency of the US. We may want to ask how can such Northern elites be trusted by the peoples of the South, and indeed the peoples of the North, to selflessly exercise " ‹Å“shared sovereignty' over these " ‹Å“failing' societies? After fifty years of state-formation, begun in the hope that post-colonial entities could not only withstand neo-colonial structures but overcome them, there is certainly a profound crisis in state capacity. The question this raises is how may such capacity be reclaimed by local peoples "" not how it can be reconstructed by the North.

Anti-imperialism: a " ‹Å“new Bandung'?

A key difference between 1955 and 2005 is the global widening and deepening of capitalist relations, binding societies together under a prevailing neo-liberal dispensation, and allied consumerist ideology. Since 1955 nationally-based anti-imperialist challenges from the South, whether through a bloc of Southern states demanding reform of the world economic order, or through revolutionary states (USSR, China, Cuba, Vietnam, Iran), have melted away (Halliday 2004). But the struggle for a post-imperialist order remains as urgent as ever, and the question remains, who is taking up this challenge, and how may it be progressed?

As capitalist relations have deepened, the social forces for anti-imperialism have shifted. Clearly, many Southern elites are bound more closely into capitalist hierarchies: the networking of power through transnational linkages has in many respects hollowed""out national bourgeoisies, and radically reorientated the national development project to serve transnational capitalist interests. Reclaiming the legacy of anti-imperialism, subordinated peoples in Southern contexts have defined alternative national agendas against neo-liberalism. These are increasingly articulated in conjunction with subordinated social forces in Northern contexts, which face similar structures, under very different conditions. The Northern-centred counter-globalist movement that emerged from the mid 1990s, reflected the imposition of neo-liberal " ‹Å“adjustment' in the North, a process meted out on the South, and resisted in the South, over the previous decades.

Anti-imperialist social forces, then, may today be located in both " ‹Å“Norths' and " ‹Å“Souths'. For some, this enables the emergence of a relatively unified historical force of subordinated peoples worldwide: Hardt insists that we must choose this " ‹Å“global' alternative, and reject the " ‹Å“national' defensiveness (Hardt 2002). Clearly the new imperialism is not simply a national phenomenon "" it has a transnational aspect, vested in the institutions of global governance, what some have characterized as a transnational quasi-state (Robinson 2002). But is this the dominant aspect, and is it in any meaningful sense " ‹Å“transnational'? The institutions of global governance are centred on capitalist heartlands: in the crucial sphere of finance, for instance, the WB-IMF complex and the various mechanisms of managing private finance flows are based in the triad. Equally, imperialism is also vested in state institutions, and their influence over world events: here the centrality of the United States military is unassailable. The logic of imperialism is thus borne out in deepening spatial as well as social divides across the globe. It is also borne out in the logic of resistance, where the claim to sovereignty, and to the limited autonomy it offers, is especially pursued in Southern contexts: this should come as no surprise as the structures of domination are invariably Northern-based, and the logic of " ‹Å“systemic chaos' as Arrighi puts it, is primarily visited on the South, not the North (Arrighi 2003).

In terms of state capacity, the world is caught in an increasingly " ‹Å“asymmetrical pattern of change in the field of state sovereignty: a marked tendency towards its erosion in the bulk of states in the international system, accompanied by an accumulation of exceptional prerogatives on the part of one state' (Gowan, 2003, p. 53, 57). The asymmetry cannot be wished away: it has material effects. In the South especially the state becomes the fulcrum. As Bagchi argues, " ‹Å“There is an illusion among some activists that the disempowering of the national state is always a good thing. However, in poorer countries, it is ultimately the state which can provide universal primary education, primary health care, basic sanitation, and food security for the poor, and protect common property resources. Getting the state to make these provisions is part of the democratic struggle throughout the world' (Bagchi 2003:117). Resistance to imperialism thus is both national and transnational: as Saul argues, " ‹Å“the fact is that " …“Empire" (the world of capitalist globalisation) and " …“empire"  (the world of western imperialism) coexist' (Saul 2003: 227).

Nonetheless, the era of neo-liberal globalism has reconfigured class forces and thus the foundations for anti-imperialist action. In the first instance, neo-liberalism was a consciously pursued strategy of a transnational capitalist class, and as such both crystalised and strengthened that social force (Sklair 2000). The strategy, and the " ‹Å“market' model it pursued, reconstituted class relations by hollowing-out corporations and flexibilising work, shifting risks onto various de-formalised piece-workers, out-workers, consultants, sub-contractors, franchisees, and licencees. In Southern contexts especially the model saw a dramatic shift away from the formal economy, along with a commodification of the " ‹Å“commons', as the discipline of capital colonized reproductive existence. In the process, peoples have become exposed directly to ravages of the market, shorn of any protective or stabilizing context. The failure of the " ‹Å“official' realm has forced a retreat into rural subsistence, and modes or urban survival; as Biel notes, the marginal economy has, in effect become the real economy (Biel 2000). This up-turns social relations, especially gender relations, and drives the emergence of grass roots movements, defined against capitalist incursions, to appropriate sources of survival. These are struggles for the defense of reproductive "" not productive "" capacity, against large-scale infrastructure projects or commercial farming projects, against slum clearance and the privatization of utilities, for instance. They directly confront the neo-liberal national development project, claiming popular " ‹Å“expert' knowledges and social technologies, posing a new agenda for autonomy and sustainability.

The revolt is significantly different, North and South. Differences are perhaps most clearly borne out in the politics of the genetically-modified foods, where Southern campaigns the primary concern is with the loss of autonomy, with bio-piracy and with corporate neo-colonialism, rather than, for instance, with consumer rights. Other examples include the rural movements for subsistence, expressed in Via Campesina, or urban poor movements for instance as expressed in Slum/Shack-dwellers International, both of which have links to Northern movements, but are based in the South. The divide is symptomatic of a much broader dynamic of opposition, where resistance is geared to autonomy, to self-determination and to sovereignty, as well as to global anti-capitalism and to associated cosmopolitan norms of ecological survival.

What are the prospects for this grass-roots challenge? For Biel, writing in 2000, there were real opportunities: as the neo-liberal project unraveled, grassroots organisations could occupy the ideological vacuum (Biel 2000: 303). Something of this tendency is revealed in the burgeoning social movements centred on fields of reproduction, and their increased transnational articulation, for instance through the social forum process. Such forces find new allies amongst the disaffected in the " ‹Å“official' sectors, including within departments of state, and have made some headway in influencing, if not capturing state power. One example at the national level is the MST, and its relationship with the governing Workers party in Brazil; at the international level, the defeat of the WTO's " ‹Å“Millennium Round' in 1999, and then the " ‹Å“Development Round' four years later demonstrates the potential of this political conjunction. Such alliances are crucial in translating aspirations into programs, especially in Southern contexts (Saul 2004).

Grass roots movements, Biel argues, now have the potential to " ‹Å“take up the question where the old NIEO left off, regenerating it from the grass roots in a radically new form' (2000: 313). Third-worldism championed by post-colonial elites is thus replaced with solidarity championed by a plethora of autonomous movements, loosely related and loosely associating, sometimes linked into structures of state power. The normative power of this configuration has played out again and again in the UN system, where it has been the primary driver for reform. The agenda at UN conferences on women, on environment and development, on human rights conferences, on indigenous peoples, has for instance been defined, if not with, then certainly in tandem with movements in these sectors.

The powerhouse of reform may, then, be located in the so-called " ‹Å“second superpower' "" peoples organisations the world over, forcing a reform agenda away from a discredited neoliberal model. In an echo of the early-1970s inter-regnum between welfare Fordism, and neo-liberalism, there is currently a failure to generate a new mode of regulatory stability. The contradictions inherent in neoliberalism continue to destabilize social relations, imploding societies, threatening even the capitalist heartlands with " ‹Å“contagion'. This socio-cultural backwash from three decades of neo-liberalism is only intensifying. The response from the heartlands has not been to re-think the model, but to impose it more coercively. Cognitive dissonance is the order of the day, with an iron will replacing the gloved fist: militarism has returned to the centre of the imperialist project, with the direct imposition of power by command. The US and its allies have taken on " ‹Å“the impossible task of suppressing the expressions of the fundamental problems of the world' (Ichiyo 2002).

As we enter a new era of recolonisation, though, perhaps we also enter a new Bandung. The key political forces in the 1955 Bandung were anti-imperialist movements seeking not simply a reordering of the global hierarchy but a more radical step beyond capitalist social relations, and many had allies within the mid-century social democratic left of Western Europe. For them there was a powerful link between anti-colonial nationalism and anti-imperialism. Perhaps now there is a similar convergence between the national and global agendas. What might this new reform agenda look like? An initial step, perhaps, is to appreciate the dynamic of resistance. In the backwash of neo-liberalism, the responses of Northern elites have become increasingly inadequate: their failure has forced the creativity of social movements to the fore. The more that dominant states insist on market freedoms the more that alternative agendas proliferate and grow. Examples of the process are proliferating, offering new ground for a radically realigned " ‹Å“reform' program (see the survey in McMichael 2000). One example is the contestation around GM foods, that have validated popular knowledges and sustainable practices, against the process of corporate commodification. Another good example is the World Trade Organisation's recent " ‹Å“development round': here, the more that Northern countries and some Southern elites have insisted on the virtues of " ‹Å“market access', the more that peoples of the South have mobilised around demands for self-reliance in terms of " ‹Å“food security' or " ‹Å“food sovereignty' (Dunkley 2004).

These ideological agendas, coming into view within grassroots movements North and South, are inspired by a radical rejection or " ‹Å“refusal' of neo-liberal orthodoxy. They involve the assertion of both autonomy and solidarity, geared to deep democratization, and to agendas for decommodification, including the assertion of the commons. Such agendas can gain leverage over state policy, framed for instance as the defense of peoples needs against corporate power in the battle over intellectual property rights. The creative power of movements can thereby find traction, in a productive contradiction with state authority. Such creativity rests on the capacity to mark out fields of autonomy "" an anathema in a world of intervention and marketisation "" that can up-turn existing hierarchies of wealth and power. In this sense, any global reform agenda must address the structures of global inequality, fostering the autonomy and diversity of Southern societies, enabling peoples to determine their own future, what may be understood as a " ‹Å“multipolar strategy of delinking' (Amin 1997: 150). Central, also, is the process of subordinating markets into society, enabling a collective delinking from market dependence, embedding markets in societies, rather than the reverse (McMichael 2000). At the international level such an agenda may expand the concept of the right to development into a " ‹Å“right to wealth' (Inayatullah 1996), an agenda of repaying the North's ecological debt for instance, that could pose real challenges to the current model of distribution. As in 1955, we are perhaps on the cusp of a new era, where such utopias resonate and can gain ground.


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Biel, R. (2000) The new imperialism: crisis and contradiction in North/South relations, Zed Books, London.

Bilgin, P. & Morton, A.D. (2004) From " ‹Å“Rogue' to " ‹Å“Failed' States? The Fallacy of Short Termism, Politics, Vol. 24, 3.

Carlsson, I. (1995) The UN at 50: a time to reform, Foreign Policy, 100, 3.

Cui, Z. (2004) The Bush Doctrine: a Chinese perspective, in Held, D. and Koenig-Archibugi, M., American power in the 21st Century, Polity, London.

Doyle,M. (2001) The new interventionism, Metaphilosophy, Special issue on economic justice, 32, 102.

Dunkley, G. (2004) Free trade: myth, realities and alternatives, Zed books, London.

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Gill, S. (2003) Power and resistance in the new world order, Palgrave, London.

Gowan, P. (2003) The new liberal cosmopolitanism, in Archibugi, D. (ed.) Debating cosmopolitics, Verso, London.

Halliday, F. (2002) The pertinence of imperialism, in Rupert, M. and Smith, H. (eds) Historical materialism and globalisation, Routledge: London.

Hardt, M. (2002) Porto Alegre: today's new Bandung?, New Left Review, 14, March-April 2002.

Inayatullah, N (1996) Beyond the Sovereignty Dilemma: Quasi "" States as Social Construct, in Biersteker, T.J. & Weber, C. (ed) State Sovereignty as Social Construct Cambridge University Press, UK.

Ichuyo, M. (2002) Some thoughts about the Empire, global power centres and people's alliances, paper presented to the Asian Exchange for New Alternatives, May 2002, Hong Kong.

ICISS International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (2001) The Responsibility to Protect, International development Research Centre, Ottawa.

Kukarni, M. (1968) Indo-Soviet political relations, K. K. Vora Bombay.

McMichael, P. (2000) Development and social change: a global perspective, Pine Forge, Thousand Oaks, US.

Morphet, S. (2004) Multilateralism and the Non-Aligned Movement: what is the global South doing and where is it going?, Global Governance, 10, 4.

Pichat, S (2001) Peacekeeping, disarmament and international force: a circular proposition, Peace Research Abstracts Journal 38, 5.

Robinson, W. (2002) Capitalist globalisation and the transnationalisisation of the state, in Rupert, M. and Smith, H. (eds) Historical materialism and globalisation, Routledge: London.

Saul, J, (2004) Globalization, imperialism, development: false binaries and radical solutions, in Panitch, L. and Leys, C. (eds) The new Imperial Challenge, Socialist Register 2004, Merlin Press, London.

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Secretary General (2005) In larger freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all, United Nations, New York.

Shaw, M. (2002) Globality and historical sociology: state, revolution and war revisited, in Hodben, S. and Hobson, J. (eds) Historical sociology of international relations, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.

United Nations (1960) Declaration on granting independence to colonized countries and peoples, General Assembly Resolution, 1514 (XV) December 14 1960.

Weiss, T. (1986) Multilateral development diplomacy in UNCTAD, Macmillan, London.

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[i] Draft paper, comments very appreciated. Email: james.goodman@uts.edu.au I work with Aidwatch Sydney and the Research Initiative on International Activism, University of Technology Sydney. Web: www.international.activism.uts.edu.au

[ii] Kukarnni argues this was Nehru's key concern; Kukarni,1968

[iii] Principles 1 to 3 enshrined sovereign independence, nonaggression and noninterference, with other values of " ‹Å“equality and mutual benefit' (4) and " ‹Å“peaceful coexistence' (5) only partially qualifying the centrality of sovereignty. These were embodied in the Bandung Communique as the desired foundation for peace and security, and in 1982 were incorporated into the PRC constitution (Cui 2004).

[iv] In Papua New Guinea and the Solomons for instance this involves accepting Australian Federal Police into the local police force as advisors, who come under Australian, not local, jurisdiction.

[v] Obstacles to reforming the UN: interests of developing and developed countries clash, Far Eastern Economic Review, 4 May 1995.

[vi] UN leaders plan draws objections, Washington Post, 22 March 2005.

[vii] Annan seeks expanded security council, more foreign aid, Inter-press Service, 22 March 2005; European Council backs Kofi Annan's proposals, Europe Information, 25 March 2005.

Paper: He who gives the name, owns the game - some aspects of the Bretton Woods structural bullying of nations
Author: John Y. Jones, Director of IGNIS, Norway

Summary :

This talk is about the last 25 years of structural adjustment policies spearheaded by the World Bank, IMF and multinational companies and their government supporters, and how it is characterized by increasing lobby power for big multinational companies; abdication of governments under the labels " …“good governance"  and " …“public sector reform" ; continuation of colonial style deindustrialisation of the South; a shift away from approaching the root causes of world injustices over to ineffective palliative measures that leaves their exploitative practices unchallanged.

The shifting of the centre of gravity in the way world development is orchestrated by leading powers, away from the UN towards the World Bank and the WTO; away from ideas of democracy "" towards a one-dollar-one-vote approach; away from a declared people-centred development model "" towards a capital-centred model.

As long as international financial institution like the World Bank are allowed and equipped to carry on the commoditisation of the assets and services of the world "" through defining, financing, planning, implementing and evaluating development strategies "" Southern countries will continue to be bullied Washington Consensus style, and all talk of democracy, national sovereignty and dignity will be insults in the face of the world's poor. And we haven't even begun introducing Wolfowitz to the equation.

* * *

An old and rather charming story from Norwegian church life, runs like this: The vicar, trying to loosen up the solemn first minutes of the Sunday morning church service, starts by giving the young ones a riddle to solve: What is small and brown, with a furry tail, climbing trees and cracking nuts with its big front teeth? he asks. A smart kid on the front row jumps to his feet, " …“It sounds like a squirrel,"  he shouts, " …“but you are a priest, so I guess it must be Jesus" .

The smart kid had learnt that priests always talk about Jesus. You do not have to be a smart NGO, however, to know that the World Bank always preaches the gospel according to the Washington Consensus. If you forget that, you will easily be led astray. That is the first lesson this morning.

The second lesson is about the power in giving names, or the power of defining. Few aspects of the World Bank is more underestimated than its never resting appetite for launching of new initiatives, inviting new groups to new dialogues, new conferences and co-operations, introducing a new strategy, directing a new path: The Bank's creation of new names and abbreviations, like The Development Marketplace: " …“with 183 finalists from 65 countries present innovative proposals for solving development problems" ; Youth, Development and Peace Conference in 2003; or Tsunami victim's relief engagement i January 2005. Most prominently is of course the abolition of ESAP and SAP and the introduction of " …“something entirely different" , PRSPs. But let me for a minute focus on the very last fashion in Bank speak: The MDGs, or generally known as " …“The UN Millennium Development Goals" :

You will be well acquainted with the fact that the World Bank started the new century launching a well publicised effort to eradicate poverty, and the " …“A better world for all"  in June 2000 in Geneva. Jokingly, alert and smart NGOs on the front row, serious religious institutions and civil society groups that had done their homework, immediately retaliated and renamed the strategy " …“Bretton Woods for All" . They had heard the preaching before and quickly dismissed the rhetoric. Behind the promises of removing all evil from the surface of the earth (aids, poverty, discrimination, corruption, and what have you) all the Better-World-For-All strategies and options were what NGOs had been rejecting since the morning of structural adjustment. Now the Bank repackaged this in fashionable design. The Bank had actually stolen a four-year-old text from a document by OECD (Shaping the 21 st Century). And in June 2000 it co-opted Kofi Annan to join the Bank, together with the OECD and IMF, in launching this text. Another three months down the road "" again with a new name "" eventually this text became known as " …“The UN Millennium Development Goals" .

It doesn't take too much to reveal how shallow the Bank's rhetoric is: Let's e.g. look briefly at the Bank's much publicised fight against corruption, with which I know APRN is familiar. In the Bank's own World Development Report 1997 it addresses corruption, saying:

" …“Policies that lower controls on foreign trade, remove entry barriers for private industry, and privatize state firms in a way that ensures competition "" all of these will fight corruption." 

Mind you: Less than 10 years after large scale privatization of public property in the former Soviet Union had left Moscow with more billionaires pr sq. mile than New York, through a privatization process that Chrystia Freeland called "The Sale of the Century" or an unprecedented process "" where the government galvanized by consultants from IMF/WB "" that led to what can best be described as theft and robbery of communally owned property. In the face of this the Bank has the guts to claim, without even trying to substantiate it, that lowering of controls, removing barriers for private industry and the privatization of state firms "" " …“will fight corruption" !

In the MDGs one will find that these very same strategies promises to eradicate poverty, aids, sexual discrimination and child mortality. The Washington Consensus strategies are indeed a panacea, a medicine to cure all ills.

But what is even more frightening, is that when the Bank comes up with its new words for its old gospel, be it " …“A Better world for all"  or " …“Fighting Corruption"  or " …“Good Governance" , " …“policy reform"  or " …“MDGs" "" when it is presenting the holy trinity of the Washington Consensus "" it is actually allowed to get away with it! Well meaning "" and not so well meaning "" governments continue to pump in billions to the Bank's soft section (IDA) allowing it to lay Santa Claus and continue its arm-twisting through setting up conditionalities and dismantling democracies.

The answer to the world's needs "" since it is the Bank that is asking "" is always deregulate! liberalise! and privatize! Always seeking effective strategies to open up countries and economies for exploitation through commercialization.

But too many NGOs have stopped looking for the reality behind the rhetoric. In stead they engage in whatever task they are invited to engage in: in introducing Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs), Debt Campaigns for Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC), in fighting corruption campaigns, in god governance strategies, in UN Millennium Development Goals, (MDGs) and in the UN Millennium Declarations. And over and over and over again, NGOs give the benefit of the doubt to the Bank bureaucrats. Many Civil Society organisations spend their entire energy, day after day trying to solve the riddles and accepting the naming game and the agendas that the Bretton Woods institutions lay out before them.

Let us for a moment look at the geography of world power as it unfolds in Washington DC. If you walk three blocks East of the HQs of the WB and the IMF in Washington DC, you come to the White House and the Treasury and the people who appoint the World Bank president. And further down Pennsylvania Avenue, you find the 535 members of Congress. But if you walk North, you'll come to K-street. Along the K-street Corridor, says Kenneth Dam, you find 20512 registered lobbyists continuously addressing the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives at a costs of 1.4 billion dollars (1998). That amounts to 38 registered lobbyist and 2.7 million dollars in lobbying expenditures for every member of Congress. What Kenneth Dam for some reason did not put into the equation, is that these lobbyist also effectively address the IMF and the World Bank in their daily activities.

It is between these nodes of power that not only America's destiny is forged, but that of World economics. This triangle of power:

  • business lobbyists (more than 20.000 + unregistered lobbyists, company employees, e.a.),

  • international finance institutions (60 billion USD lending last year by IMF and WB) and

  • the world's most powerful political family on Capitol Hill and in the White House,

this triangle is found within an area less that one square kilometre. And, mind you, this is a triangle in which the parts are not trying to balance the forces of power: they are all pulling in the same corporately led direction.


When Madeline Albright in 1997 stepped down as US ambassador to the UN to become the first woman Secretary of State for the US, on a full hour talk-show on CNN, she pleaded with the American people to support US activities in the UN, saying " …“We cannot change the world all by ourselves,"  she pleaded, " …“We need the UN to do it for us." 

The prospect of using the UN as a tool in the global US hegemonic service is far from secret. And contrary to what many may believe, it is currently an American bipartisan project. And it fills naturally in with

  • US refusal to accept the International Criminal Court's jurisdiction over American soldiers or citizens,

  • the refusal to pay its dues to the UN if the World Organization does not behave in a " …“relevant"  fashion, or

  • the right to refuse visas to visitors to the UN if the US so wishes.

  • The humiliation of human rights through the Guantanamo base activities and other torture enhancing activities in countries that allow such activities.

  • The ignoring of the Kyoto protocol and the fact that the American way of life is the single most dangerous threat to sustainable civilisation,

rank high on a long and scary list that can easily be extended.

When former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali last month addressed the issues of the challenges for the United Nations, he did that from his position as the chairman of the Board of the South Centre in Geneva and in te spirit of Bandung. " …“In its essence,"  Boutros-Ghali says, " …“the crisis of the UN today is a North-South crisis."  He continues:

It has also become easier to dismiss the notion of sovereign equality and advance in its stead the notion of economic and political power making some states " …“more equal"  than others. This in turn, means downgrading the importance of the UN General Assembly and, shifting the centre of gravity to the more collegial and easier to manage entities, such as the Security Council and the executive boards of the Bretton Woods institutions.

The Bretton Woods institutions are " …“easier to manage"  not only for the Americans, but for all the governments that pursue the neo-liberal globalisation model. The democratic nature of the General Assembly is a problem to these forces. The pompously named High-Level group on UN reform therefore suggests that those who contribute more to the financing of the UN should be given a proportional as rewarded for that. " …“One dollar one vote"  seems to be the tune of the day. That way the rich countries, ironically, do not have to shift the gravity away from the UN to the Bretton Woods, they defacto shape the new UN in accordance with the Bretton Woods architecture, making the UN into a company of shareholders.

It is worth remembering that the World Bank is a company of shareholders and not a democratic organisation or reporting to the UN General Secretary or any UN body. The last year the Bank has tried to blur this by increasingly being given access to the floor of the UN. This is a dangerous precendent that gives the Bank for free what corporations pay heavily to create the illusion of: credibility and a human face.

It is also worth remembering a long forgotten piece of British legislation, the Bubble Act of 1720, in which the British Parliament made it illegal to create " …“share holders corporations"  due to the basic unethical set-up of combining limited responsibility and unlimited profit potential for investors. It was called a recipe for theft. Needless to say: This body that was made a criminal offence in 1720 is to day a corner stone for big capital's global domination. The World Bank and the IMF are both staunched supporters of, and in their own structures such companies, with unlimited powers for profit, but limited responsibilities. Their annual 60 billion dollar lending/investing under unprecedented guarantees give annual profits and high investment ratings on the global bonds' market. The imposition of the structural adjustment conditionalities on country after country does not legally bind these institutions to any accountability. When the medicines prescribed by the conditionalities imposed through PRSPs and HIPCs e.g. fail "" and they do "" it is the patients that have to pick up the ashes, carry the consequences "" and on top of it all repay for money consumed in the failed experiments.

Whereas banks and companies in general can go bust if they invest irresponsibly and unwisely, the World Bank and the IMF can chase its loans into eternity, irregardless of the loans being given to dictators, embezzlers or incompetent borrowers and irregardless of whether the money ends up in the Cayman Island, Swiss bank accounts "" or reach the poor. The Bank pr definition cannot lose.

As Boutros-Ghali correctly saw, the international finance institutions of today are substituting democratic bodies, and even being introduced as more " …“just"  bodies than e.g. the UN general Assembly, since they give financial contributors to the UN system a proportional share in the power of these institutions. This way the UN undoubtedly will become more " …“relevant" . These same institutions prove their " …“relevance"  through becoming tools for private capital. As we have seen, this is sometimes called " …“fight against corruption" , but we also find them concealed under heading like MDGs, HIPC or PRSPs.

That is also why one should not expect any reaction or emerging controlling counter force to the American hegemonic strategies from Europe or other large economies or states. The intra-empire rivalry is exaggerated, if not entirely a myth.

" …“We are the companies' government"  George Bush triumphantly declared in so many ways in his first days in power. After the downfall and disgrace of close allies like World Com and Enron, this melody has been dampened a couple of notches, but it remains the policy of that government. Bush's appointing of ambassadors and people to other political positions "" of which vice president Cheney of Halliburton is the gravest example "" bares witness to this. It is right that the Americans have given preference to their own industry in e.g. the build up process in Iraq. But the critique they meet is not based on the injustices committed to the Iraqi people, and will be forgotten as soon as London, Paris, Moscow and Bonn is allowed more access to the spoils of this war. If Rio, Delhi and Pretoria will follow suit, remains to be seen.

That George Bush now has appointed a trusted neo-liberal to the position of president of the Bank "" and the fact that the world community at large has accepted it, is a testimony to the fact that the Bank is a relevant tool to corporate lead globalisers. Wolfensohn or Wolfowitz are both guarantors for this. It is actually hard to see any issue hat can be further aggravated by the appointment of Mr. Wolfowitz, than what has been done under Wolfensohn. From a civil society perspective we can only hope for a more openly hard core operating Bank, cleansed of its human-face rhetoric, which will help exposing the true nature of its operations and ambitions. And consequently become easier to stop.

But the easy NGO talk of democratizing the Bank, or making it more transparent or accountable or more communicable and more sensitive to critique, research and experience, is of little significance in the world of realpolitik. And no face-lift improvement matters if we do not address the very core of the Bank's being, the fundamental commodification and cost-recovery efforts carried out daily through Bank policies, and on which the Bank is founded. Through commodification and commercialisation of common goods, state owned properties, services and rights, the developing world have be made " …“relevant"  to the profit-seeking institutions of the West. The main activity of the World Bank, the investment in profit seeking activities which has made the Bank a popular investment channel and the real rational for its being, is founded not on soft loans and gifts to the needy, but on hard core investment propped up by harsh debt service procedures. And mind you, more than 80% of the Bank's assets come from money raised in the international marketplace, among people who expect to get the best interest there is. This market is the real owner of the Bank.

And here we are at the core of national sovereignty and democracy in a Wold Bank led world: promises of popular participation and national ownership and control are set within the tight limits given to it by the neo-liberal paradigm and will only be allowed as long as it serves the larger goals of the Bank:

  • opens up for foreign investment and extraction of capital and valuables in the South,

  • enhances the deindustrialisation of countries in the South forced to remain raw material deliverers, and thereby combining getting rid of industrial competitors and securing cheap raw material for the North

  • enlarges the pool of global saleable goods and services, and thereby the potential for profit,

  • and, in particular after 9/11, helps the military co-players to engage with its siblings, the global governance, trade and finance people, in every increasing number of states

As long as they serve these purposes, national players will be allowed to carry on by leading actors in the corporate globalization race.

But the moment countries move in an opposite direction "" when local needs and preferences make it imperative, e.g. when democracy claims its space and say "" the World Bank and IMF will trigger the repercussions embedded in debt repayment deals and imposition of conditionalities.

I need not tell the Philippine or Indonesian people of the many atrocities that have been committed through impositions from the World Bank, and the burden you still carry from former injustices, not only in the form of heavy debts and harsh repayments, but in terms of structural adjustment policies that have harmed the poor also in your countries, and left local democratic forces with little room for economic space and freedom. You have indeed seen your freedom taken away from you through decisions taken in far away places to serve hidden goals and financial powers.

For the developing world "" in cooperation with its civil society and informed and supportive people's groups in the North "" to be able to regain the initiative, it cannot build on the rubble of the present day international financial institutions and the World Bank. The way the democratic forces have been brushed aside after the fall of the wall, galvanized by the 9/11 and subsequent events, is evidence to this. But the path towards creating good institutions for the developing world will have to be hammered out by the South itself. It will have to

  • end the lethal draining of the veins of resources, competence and capital in the South, so that it can flow back into the body it belongs to.

  • dismantle the Bank and IMF,

  • organise the pursuit of resources locally and regionally to service Southern needs and strategies

  • teach the West new ways to channel solidarity resources from currently rich countries, but most importantly:

  • teach the world to speak truthfully about the global waves of robbery that have been allowed to take place under a cloak of branding of names and abbreviations: poverty reduction strategies, millennium goals and declarations, anti-corruption rhetoric and national ownership and control.

The history of Bandung has shown that the South is able to come together in a forceful way to change the direction of global development "" a different globalization. Rather than seeking a post-Washington Consensus, one will have to compost Washington Consensus all together, and disclose its underlying motives, targets and interests, and reinstate people's participatory powers and competence. Long and short term goals for the enhancing of world democracy and national sovereignty is intrinsically linked to the dismantling of the international finance institutions.

With the introduction of Mr. Wolfowitz, the architect of the infamous invasion of Iraq, to the position for president of the World Bank, this work has become more clear and obvious. It will be impossible to portray the Bank as a United Nations of good will and altruism. If we are alert NGOs on the first benches.

But it has also sent a strong signal that present day globalization is not merely a question of americanization, but a formidable alliance of corporate forces without borders. A renewal of the pledges from Bandung could be a start where The South must play a leading role. I hope you will find a place for solidarity contributions also from the North. But we all know that that role must be very different from the present day aid-regime as spearheaded by the World Bank. With the South taking the lead, I will join in the ambitions of Kevin Danaher, who says

We abolished slavery

we abolished child labour

we abolished the exclusion of women from voting

we can abolish international banking institutions that do more to prevent democracy than promote it.


World Bank Annual Report 2004, Vol. 1, p 12.

see World Council of Churches General Secretary Conrad Reiser's letter to Kofi Annan, June 2000.

OECD, DAC committee, Shaping the 21 st Century, Paris 1996.

pp 8-9

Chrystia Freeland's book, "The Sale of the Century" (Doubleday Canada, 2000),

The Rules of the Global Game , Univ. of Chicago Press, p. 11 (2004).

Boutros Boutros-Ghali, United Nations Crisis and its reform, New Delhi, speech of 10th February 2005. A South Centre document.

See Joel Bakan, The Corporations, New York,

The by far most comprehensive and underestimated exercise to show the effects of the Bank's structural adjustment policies, is The SAPRIN Report: The political roots of economic crisis and poverty, 2002, ZED Books, see www.saprin.org

Kevin Danaher, 10 reasons to abolish the IMF and the World Bank, New York ,2001

Paper: Self-determination, coexistence and the conflict in Sri Lanka
Author: Harsha Kumara Navaratne , Sewalanka Foundation , Sri Lanka
Colonial Roots of the Sri Lankan Conflict

Like so many conflicts in the Global South today, the roots of the war in Sri Lanka can be traced to the colonial period. Before the arrival of the Portuguese, Dutch, and British, the island that is now known as Sri Lanka was not a single nation state. The land was divided into three coexisting kingdoms based on geographical boundaries. Sinhala and Tamil people shared religious practices, holidays, and holy sites, traded with one another, and often intermarried. Most Sinhalese and Tamils who lived in close proximity were bilingual. There was a common cultural heritage, and the line between the two ethnic groups was relatively blurred.

In 1818, the British became the first colonial power to politically unify the island. They conducted a census that for the first time divided the people according to three ethnicities based on language and religion: Sinhalese, Tamils, and Moors. Using a strategy of divide and rule, they offered educational and employment opportunities to a small proportion of the population, who then governed the masses. Over time, a wealthy, English-speaking, Christian elite emerged in the capital of Colombo.

According to the history books, Sri Lanka became an independent nation state on February 4 th, 1948, but this historical event brought very little social change. Unlike India, Sri Lanka never had a freedom struggle. The British simply handed over leadership to an Anglicized elite who shared the religion, language, and values of the colonizers. The British administrative and governance system remained. The country took on the symbols of democracy, like elections and political parties, but not its substance. Since 1948, the political leadership of the country has been kept within two extended Colombo-based families.

Because of the immense economic and cultural divide between this Anglicized elite and the mass of the rural population, their claims to national political leadership were highly vulnerable. In order to maintain their legitimacy in a " ‹Å“majority rules' representative democracy, they had to show responsibility for the masses, while avoiding class-based politics. Their solution was to appeal to ethnicity and religion. Political leaders converted to Buddhism, began wearing national dress and speaking Sinhalese, and established themselves as the protectors of the majority, the Sinhalese Buddhists.

In 1956, Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike made Sinhala the official language. Tamil professionals and bureaucrats lost their jobs, and Tamil students were unable to access coveted university spots. The democratic avenues for them to legally protect their minority rights were closed. These policies were continued and reinforced by subsequent governments. This situation drove the Sri Lankan Tamils to their struggle for self-determination. From 1983 until the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam (LTTE) signed a ceasefire agreement in 2002, more than 100,000 people have been killed by ethnic and political violence and nearly one million have been displaced.

Although the British handed over political leadership in 1948, the people of Sri Lanka have never experienced independence or self-determination, and although the country has had more than 10 elections in the past 10 years, Sri Lanka has never experienced democracy. The majority of the people in the country, Sinhala and Tamil alike, do not feel like they have a voice in the issues that affect their lives. Politicians and nationalistic groups have fed on this frustration and polarized the country in order to advance their own political agendas.

The Influence of International Aid

During the colonial period, the influence of the British on Sri Lanka was obvious and direct. Today, Sri Lanka is considered an independent nation state, but through the pressure of international aid, the influence of external actors on the country's internal relations remains just as strong. Although Sri Lanka is far from the hotspots of the Middle East, it too has been influenced by the war on terror. The United States, United Kingdom, and Canada all have included the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam on their lists of terrorist organizations. After September 11, 2001, it became clear that the conflict in Sri Lanka could be included in the international " ‹Å“war on terror' which would strengthen the position of the Sri Lankan government. This contributed to the LTTE's decision to sign a ceasefire Memorandum of Understanding in February of 2002.

Peace talks between the two largest stakeholders in the conflict, the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE were mediated by the Norwegians. However, some members of the donor community failed to recognize the LTTE as a legitimate stakeholder, insisting they were merely a terrorist organization. Although the LTTE currently holds administrative responsibility for a large part of the North and East of the country, they were not included in the first donor meeting in Washington where the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the region was discussed. This affront contributed to the LTTE's decision to withdraw from the peace talks in the fall of 2003.

In order to apply pressure on the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government, members of the donor community agreed to withhold rehabilitation funds until the formal peace talks resumed. This has meant that the civilians in the border areas, who suffered the most during the conflict, have still not seen any benefits from the peace. Over the past two years, tens of thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) have been trying to return to their homes and reestablish their livelihoods. They arrive to find their houses destroyed, their infrastructure demolished, and their agricultural lands filled with mines. When international support has been most needed, very little has been available. This situation of " ‹Å“no war, no peace' has generated enormous frustration at the grassroots level and put more pressure on the LTTE to show they can deliver results to the Tamil people.

At the same time, the delay in the peace process has given nationalistic political groups in the South time to organize and spread propaganda. In poster campaigns and rallies, they call the international donors " ‹Å“white tigers' and accuse these " ‹Å“foreign' agents of trying to divide the country. This situation has not been helped by the numerous international " ‹Å“peace experts' and " ‹Å“conflict resolution consultants' who have flooded into Sri Lanka. This nationalistic political group represents a small percentage of the Sinhala population, but they are extremely vocal and they have put pressure on the Sri Lankan government to continue protecting Sinhala interests in the face of outside invaders. Although the ceasefire agreement still officially stands, the situation in Sri Lanka is highly unstable.

The international community measures peace by the number of formal talks that are held in international venues by representatives of the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE. For those of us who work as practitioners in the country, it is the clear that a sustainable peace in Sri Lanka requires a much deeper process of social change. Coexistence cannot be imposed by external actors or by political groups, it must be built from within. There are currently a number of local organizations who are working to build linkages between people in the North and South of the country, strengthen civil society institutions, and develop participatory political structures that will protect the rights of minorities and provide a voice to all the people of Sri Lanka. It is our opinion, that these initiatives provide a stronger basis for coexistence and self-determination than any internationally approved peace agreement.

The only exception is President Premadasa, who was elected in 1989 and was assassinated in 1993.

Paper: The Agrarian Crises and the need of democratic and anti-imperialist movement in Indonesia
Author: Erpan Faryadi, General Secretary, The Alliance of Agrarian Reform Movement
The Prologue

Indonesia is the biggest archipelagos multination country. There are more than 13.667 islands and among of those islands, there are five big islands, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Celebes, and Papua in the line of equator that gave a tropical climate between two oceans""Indian and Pacific ocean""and two continents""Asia and Australia. The total area of Indonesia is 1,919,440-kilometer squares, and 48 percent of total area is consisted by water.

This geo-politic position makes Indonesia has an important role in connecting every international interest, from east to west and from north to south. The volcanic mountains and the seas that laid in Indonesia, makes Indonesia known as a country with richness of land and lot of natural resources treasure. The huge rain tropical forest of Indonesia makes Indonesia as a lung of the earth with the most comprehensive biodiversities among the world. Therefore, the domination over Indonesia becomes much significance in ruling the world.

We can widely see that among Indonesian island, there has been an uneven situation between Java and other islands in Indonesia. Historically, the Javanese hold the domination on the politic, economic, military, and cultural. Amongst 238,452,952 peoples who lived in Indonesia, 45% of population is from the Javanese nationality.

Almost 108 million people are potential productive forces. From the official labor force survey, almost 43-70 percent among them works in agriculture sectors and at least 11-20 percent are working in manufactures and industries, and beyond of them are working in other sectors or in the informal sector.

However, the richness of lands, the treasures of natural resources, and huge land tropical forest of Indonesia, almost give nothing to Indonesian people. In addition, the political independence that proclaimed by bloody people's war of Indonesian in August 1945, were taken back by imperialism.

Round-Table Conference of Den Haag caused it in 1949 between Indonesian governments led by Hatta-Sjahrir clique with the Dutch imperialism. This conference brought back the politic economical domination of the Dutch asset in Indonesia.

That is why, even politically, Indonesia had proclaimed the independence on August 1945, but actually, imperialism, especially US imperialism, still becomes the major and dominant factor in Indonesian society. This domination accomplished when US imperialism with the helps of rightist clique among armies general headed by Soeharto, succeed in overthrowing the power of Soekarno in 1966.

Imperialism had its material precondition of dominating Indonesia by throwing out Soekarno from Indonesian political arena in 1966. By this tragic moment, US imperialism took a big step to re-colonize Indonesia by a political aggression, military control, and economical occupation before making a cultural domination.

Soon after overthrowing Soekarno through a bloody coup d' etat, the fascist and rightist former army General Soeharto establishes the New Order Regimes as the puppets of US imperialism, headed by established the domination of imperialism in every field, economically, politically, culture, and military field. For almost 32 years, Indonesian people forced to serve imperialism in many ways.

However, I assumed that we are here together are like to know much about Indonesian society and the peasants struggle against imperialism rather than knowing how Soeharto achieved the power and established its regimes. There are many literature that had published which telling us about how Soeharto overthrow Soekarno in 1965. It is a darkness moment in Indonesian history, when the Indonesian army cruelly slaughtered million people""majority from working class and peasantry""as the gift to the US imperialism.

Agrarian Crises, Some Notes

Ever since Soeharto took over the power and built the New Order regime until the present political situations, the Indonesian government always betrayed the mandates of the Agrarian Act 1960. Especially during the New Order Regime, imperialism tried to promote sectorals land market oriented policies and interrupted the supreme will of Indonesian peasantry, which a part of it carried by the Agrarian Act 1960.

For almost three decades, Indonesian peasantry had forced to follow " …“the green revolution"  programs which been promoted as the anti-theses of the land-reform program. The program were claimed had succeed in increasing the food productivity in the mid of 1980. As the acknowledgement of these succeeds, FAO rewarded Soeharto in 1984.

Nevertheless, the " …“succeed"  of green revolution programs, did not solved any contradiction in the countrysides. Poverties in the peasant's and countryside community are growing ever bigger every year. The peasants had no choice, but to sell their agricultural product in the market which dominated by the big business through the bogus productive cooperation (e.g. KUD).

Otherwise, the peasants ordered the chemicals fertilizer and other means of production that decreased the environmental ecologies and created an addicted land to the chemical means.

Food overproduction policies (the new order regimes called it by " …“Swasembada Pangan" ) that been proclaimed as the main purpose of the green revolution had imposed the price of agriculture commodities. Liberalization of the domestic market of agriculture commodities brought lot of disaster for the peasants.

Intervention of the new technologies during the green revolution programs did not much helping the peasant's life. Instead, the unemployment rate in the countrysides is growing high.

Still in the periods of the new order regimes, the cases of land grabbing by state machineries, state corporations, or private corporations, were increased. The Consortium of Agrarian Reform reported, during 1971 until 2001, more than 1.753 cases, with 10,892,203 hectares of dispute areas, and caused 1,189,482 peasants households. The cases had involved government machineries, military institutions, and civilian bureaucracy.

Another feature of agrarian crises in Indonesia is the growing rate of poor-and landless peasants in the countrysides. According to the agriculture census in 2003, in Java 74.9 percent of peasant household are poor peasants household which only working on less than 0.4 hectare. It has increased since 69.8 percent in the years 1993. On the other islands, the census showed that 33.9 percent (937.000) peasant families are poor peasant families. It has been increasing since 1993 that only 30.6 percent are categorize as poor peasant's families. At the averages, now more than 56.52% of the peasant's household of entire country is poor.

Other impact of agrarian crises that already happened in Indonesia is hunger and food shortage in the countrysides. Just in the mid of March 2005, a national paper, Kompas, reported that almost 10 districts in the Eastern Nusa Tenggara Province (NTT) attacked food shortage and hunger. The worst happened in 32 villages of District Lembata. The same cases but caused by different factors also happened in Aceh and Nias eventually just after tsunamis attack.

There are many things happened, as the effect of agrarian crises in the Indonesian countrysides today. Nevertheless, I assume we already need to look directly to the causes of the crises. In my term, there at least three causes which brought the agrarian crises in Indonesia.

First , the domination of big land-owners in concentrating of ownerships on land, other agrarian resources, and the lackness access of the poor peasants to get a piece of land to till for their lives. The ownership of the land consisted feudal type land owners and big plantation rented by government of private (domestic and foreign big plantation)

The first type usually came from noble families of old feudal states. They got the status because some beneficiaries relations with their ancestry. The second is the institutions that applied the semi-feudal relations, especially in relation with lands and other agrarian resources.

The big plantation is become the most dangerous and reactionaries land owners because always directly connected with and defending the interest of the imperialism. To serve and secure the interest of imperialism, they are willing to do anything. Even it make them fought the people. Such institutions to be mentioned are Perum Perhutani, Plantation State Corporatation (PTPN), some multinational mining corporation like Freeport, newmont, Kaltim Prima Coalt, Exxonmobile Oil, Total Oil Company, etc.

The Consortium of Agrarian Reform (2001) indicated that at least,

  • There are 470 companies controlling over approximately 56.3 million hectares of forest as a forest concession, which means that most of the companies have a forest concession of 120 thousand hectares.
  • There are 561 companies controlling on average about 150 hectares of mining concessions.
  • There are 1,932 companies controlling over 2.4 million hectares for large-scale plantations, with the average of 1,284.5 hectares each.
  • Beside those mentioned above, there are many other companies that are giving concessions for the development of new cities, settlements, industrial estates, golf courses, etc. For instance, there are 10 conglomerates controlling over 65,500 hectares that are going to be turned into an exclusive settlement.

Second , the backwardness of productive forces that caused by remnant feudalism and domination imperialist industries all over Indonesia. Indonesian peasantry had introduced with modern technology, but it was not for benefits for the people and only serving the interest of big domestic businessmen, big landowners, and imperialism.

The biggest effect of the imposed used of modern technologies in the agrarian society in Indonesia is the growth of unemployment in the countryside. The women peasants were easily expelled. This gave much fortune for the big global capitalist to use their labor force. The unemployed women of the countryside supplied the cheap labor for the neo-colonial industries in the urban forming the feminization of the Indonesian industries.

Third , state violence and anti-democratic, anti-people, and anti-peasants policies that imposed by the bloody puppets regime of US imperialism. Until today, puppets regime always use the security approach to resolve any land dispute and agrarian conflict that happened in Indonesia. Some leaders are arrested or jailed, some was murdered. Those cases happened in Bulukumba (South of Celebes), Garut, Subang, and Ciamis (West Java), Banyumas and Wonosobo (Central Java), Manggarai (East Nusa Tenggara), Muko-Muko (Bengkulu), Labuhan Batu and Porsea (North of Sumatra), Sesepa-Luwu (Central of Celebes), Lombok (West Nusa Tenggara), Halmahera (Northern of Mollucas), and Banyuwangi (East Java).

Nevertheless, those approaches did not accomplish all the contradiction, which become the cause of the conflict. That is why, the peasant's organization movement of Indonesia demands the cancellation of arrested peasant's leader that had been retained by anti-peasants law and demands the discontinuance the violence approaches of the state machineries.

Despite demanding the cancellation of all arrested peasants leader, the Indonesian democratic peasant's movement also refuses draft of Agrarian Resources Act, which promoted by National Agrarian Board (Badan Pertanahan Nasional) which proposed as the replacement of Agrarian Act 1960. This draft is only serving imperialist and big landowner's interest. It will totally change the essence of Agrarian Act 1960. The draft are also allay the crucial mandates of the implementation for agrarian reform program which be the essence of Agrarian Act 1960.

The states violence approaches were always used to force the acceptance of people on many state or corporate infrastructure projects. The projects were funded by multi-finance institutions, such ADB or World Bank, the TNCs or MNCs, and serving the imperialist interest in Indonesia. These infrastructure projects always violated the peoples and peasants rights.

The people rights violation by dam's infrastructure projects, such Kedungombo dam's project, in the Central Java province, the Dam Project of Jatigede in Sumedang, West Java, or Nipah dam's project, became the second biggest infrastructure project after the expansion of big-plantations areas. That is why the cancellation of all infrastructure projects also included as the demands among other demands of the peasants and people democratic movement in Indonesia.

Last, the agrarian crises are one among other effect that caused by US imperialism. However, in the agrarian based like Indonesia, the agrarian crises are the biggest effect among others. It caused the poverty and many kind of backwardness among the peasants as majority Indonesian populations. These situations are not only had enriched the semi-feudal oppression in the vast area of countrysides but also blockaded the democratic movement in Indonesia.

Struggle Must Continue

Today, the Indonesian political regimes are headed by former army general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) and as his vice president, a big well-known and energetic comprador and a big land-lord, also the chairman of New Order political machine, Golongan Karya (GOLKAR), Muhammad Yussuf Kalla (MYK). They were coming into the presidential palace after gained 65 percent on Presidential Election 2004 and defeated the former President Megawati Soekarno Putri who alliance with the leader of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) the outstanding traditional mass Moslem organization of Indonesia.

The winning of SBY-Kalla is not are the defeat of democratic movement of the Indonesian people. Just after their ambitious campaign, SBY and Kalla betrayed the people's hope in changing of Indonesian political and economical situation. On November 2004, just one month after the presidential inauguration, SBY-Kalla had raised the price of gas until 40 percent and on 1 March 2005, SBY-Kalla made second controversial policies by raising the fuel price until 29 percent. This is the highest price hike after the financial crises on 1997.

SBY-Kalla urged and imposed the hike price policy to cut the oil subsidies that cost almost 72 trillion rupiah (about US$. 815 million) on the national budget. As the compensations of the hikes, SBY-Kalla promises the people the 17 trillion rupiah as the fund compensations that will allocate to support the reducing poverties program on health and education.

Nevertheless, he did not mention that his regime still kept the foreign debt policies by allocating almost 110.8 trillion rupiah (US$ 1.18 billion) on the plan budget 2005. That is just an example that clarified the people of which sides the SBY-Kalla are.

Keeping the foreign debt policies are the same meaning with serving imperialism. In the term of Soekarno, SBY and Kalla are the small but alien community within a nation that had actual physical control. As the servant of imperialism, SBY and Kalla is " …“a skilful and determined enemy"  of the people.

This of course, makes SBY-Kalla did not have a scientific based to have the ability in solving the agrarian crises as the main or the core of Indonesian crises. Hence, SBY-Kalla only will make the bigger growing of the crises in Indonesia.

The Last but not Least

The lessons from historical experience since the VOC colonialism (1602-1799), Dutch Colonialism (1800-1942), Japanese Occupation (1942-1945), or the New Order Regime (1966-1998), were gave the understanding of Indonesian people on the essence of political regimes whom ruled Indonesia.

As we all can see, the worsening crises of imperialism and the decay of feudalism gave a scientific reason for Indonesian oppressed people to continue the struggle against imperialism in the line of struggle against puppet regimes of Imperialism. For us in Indonesia, the meaning of struggle against imperialism is the struggle of people against its local reactionaries alliance that ruled Indonesia.

Almost everyday we are watching the mass protest and demonstration across of country. Almost all the protests were caused by imperialist policies that forced by its puppet in Indonesia.

The Indonesian people need to gain the genuine independence and democratic society, as the only was to improve the live hood for all Indonesian people. Land reform in the countryside and the nationalization of industries in the urban industries areas have to be applied to gain those needs.

The requirement that would be needed are willingness of all the democratic and anti-imperialist people of Indonesia to work harder, to arouse, to organize, and mobilize people in opposing and exposing the imperialist domination and its puppets policies. The willingness had to be guided by the correct political line that based on the contradiction amongst Indonesian society.

The correct propaganda to expose and oppose the imperialist dominations and the oppressions of remnant feudalism amongst the masses, especially working class and peasantry, are needed to advance the masses struggle against imperialism.

For Indonesian peasantry, the development of the genuine and democratic peasants based organization is heavily needed. The requirement for these is the existence of poor and landless peasant's leaderships and the correct political line that be based on the concrete contradictions in the countryside which are the urge of the implementation of the land reform programs, the descent of the land-rents, the just sharecrops, and the erasure of all kind usuries. It will serve for the advancement of peasant mass struggle against imperialism and domination of remnant feudalism.

As we all concern, the genuine independence and democratic society not only needed for the peasantry but for all people a cross the country. This become the basic and fundamental reason to build democratic and anti-imperialist front amongst the masses at the national and international levels, which consisted by the basic alliance of the working class and peasantry with all democratic elements, such women, youth and student, intellectuals, and other progressive, democratic, and anti-imperialist element of the Indonesian people.

The last but not least, the meaning struggle for genuine independence and democratic society in Indonesia are building a new Indonesia that based on the realizing of nationalist, democratic, and just aspirations of the working masses and all oppressed people in Indonesia. This will become the genuine and democratic expression of the people regarding the meaning of Bandung Spirit 1955.

The Secretariat of National Preparation Committee of Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria/ AGRA (The Alliance of Agrarian Reform Movement)

In Jalan Kihiur Nomor 44 Cihapit, Bandung. Telp/Fax. +62-22-7214706. Email agra_pusat@yahoo.com
Paper: Israel's Wall: A loss of security for all
Author: Bisan Center for Research and Development
Whether it is in the form of a chain-link fence, a concrete barrier, a trench, or a tangle of barbed wire, "the wall" that is being built by Israel in the name of security is certainly, as Israeli military orders term it, an "obstacle". In areas, extending 8 meters (26 feet) high and up to 100 meters wide, the physical boundary that Israel began in April 2002 and with which it is unilaterally enclosing and isolating the Palestinian people of the West Bank is a severe threat to a population already suffering the effects of the longstanding Israeli occupation. It impinges on their basic rights to survival, livelihood, dignity, and freedom - the primary global concerns defined by the Commission on Human Security. B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, projected in an April 2003 report that the barrier "will likely cause direct harm to at least 210,000 Palestinians residing in sixty-seven villages, towns, and cities". While "the wall" is a tangible obstacle to the human security of the Palestinians, it is only one manifestation of the effects of the illegal, belligerent, and humiliating Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In the guise of counter-terrorism and state security, the wall violates the fundamental rights of Palestinians and promises to further shrink the possible land-area for any future Palestinian state.

The wall is being built by Israel ostensibly to halt Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians. If its construction were really about security, then it would straddle the 1967 border of the West Bank - the Green Line - or have been established on Israeli land rather than drawing international criticism and creating physical boundaries that will influence future discussions about sovereignty without any form of bilateral negotiation. The wall will not increase security, but extend the conflict. Its construction is leading Palestinians to believe that a two-state solution is no longer viable. In the current climate, a one-state solution will be resented by extremists on both sides, and Israel will further institutionalize an apartheid system with the West Bank and Gazan Palestinian enclaves as marginalized Bantustans - a recipe for the continuation of the struggle and threatened security of both nations. It cannot be said too often nor too confidently that the wall is not about security; it is an aggressive grab for land.

Although Israel claims that "the obstacle" is a temporary measure, the expense, effort, and sheer expanse of land confiscated speak otherwise. Most of the Israeli military orders relating to the wall expire in 2005, but these orders are easily renewed. And by issuing temporary military orders, complex legal proceedings required for permanent property confiscation are unnecessary. If the wall were a stringent security measure based upon fear of attacks, the existing boundaries and checkpoints would be much more rigorously guarded. As it is, the majority of suicide bombers enter Israel through military checkpoints. And Palestinian newspapers run nearly daily photographs of children, elderly, students, and others clambering over the existing barriers near Jerusalem or families trudging through muddy hillsides in rural areas to avoid these checkpoints often within sight of soldiers or settlements.

"The wall" currently deviates from the 1967 borders or Green Line cutting into the West Bank in some areas as much as 7.5 kilometers. If completed as planned, this number will rise to 22 kilometers. In places where it does ride the Green Line, additional barriers are planned several kilometers to the east - or further within Palestinian territory - of the current wall. The wall is projected to cut off approximately 975 square kilometers of land from the rest of the West Bank. In effect, approximately 16.6% of the area of the West Bank defined by its 1967 borders will become a physically separate entity while much of the remaining area will rest under Israeli control - annexing de facto approximately 50% of the West Bank. The path of the wall itself creates a swath of destruction as houses are demolished, and orchards bulldozed to clear the area. As of June 2003, the wall already claimed the uprooting of 102,320 trees and in one town alone 85 buildings were destroyed. In the Jerusalem area, the wall will even run over a Palestinian graveyard.

For the Israelis, "[t]he lack of transparency regarding the path of the route flagrantly violates the rules of proper administration and hampers informed public debate on a project of long-term, far-reaching significance at a cost of hundreds of millions of shekels". For the Palestinians, the wall is one more step towards their further displacement and will "cause further humanitarian hardship to the Palestinians". The wall is helping to plunge Palestinians further into entrenched poverty. There is evidence that as of the autumn 2003 "there are 25,000 new recipients of food assistance as a direct consequence of the Barrier's [sic.] construction". Farmers cut off from their lands run the risk of losing their crops without proper access, and shepherds have to search for alternate grazing grounds. Movement of goods and equipment is curtailed and access to markets uncertain. With little hope for sustainable livelihoods in the so-called seam areas, many Palestinians are considering abandoning their land and risking its subsequent confiscation.

By imposing collective punishment, seizing and destroying private property, demolishing homes, making access to health and education difficult, separating families, annexing occupied land, and violating Palestinians' rights to work and freedom of movement, Israel is violating a long list of human, social, cultural, and economic rights as well as international laws.

Israel has repeatedly imposed collective punishment upon Palestinian civilians. This punishment is administered in the form of curfews and restriction of movement and often results in the killing and injuring of innocent civilians. The wall is the latest manifestation of collective punishment and will effectively transform the West Bank and parts of the East Jerusalem area into a large prison for Palestinians. The Hague Regulations, or Hague Convention of 1907, which have been accepted by the Supreme Court of Israel, explicitly prohibit collective punishment for residents of occupied territories

As the October 2003 UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/58/3 states, "the route marked out for the wall under construction by Israel, the occupying power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory" ¦could prejudge future negotiations and make the two-State solution physically impossible to implement". The route has serious political implications. By -creating facts on the ground' that will be difficult to reverse, many fear that the land that lies in the seam area is in danger of being expropriated by Israel permanently, as "Israel has expropriated land for not being adequately cultivated [or] pursuant to military orders".

The land that is in danger of being expropriated is strategic because of its resources - namely fertile farm land and access to the main aquifer in the area - in addition to the expansion of Israeli settlement. A member of the Palestinian Hydrology Group writes: "the appearance of the Wall was in no way a surprise, but an extreme physical application of the theoretical and the various efforts of Israel of the last decades to control the vital Western Aquifer" ¦the Wall will make the upstream if the aquifer inaccessible to Palestinians ensuring that Israel will control both the quantity and quality of the water". It is this Western Aquifer which supplies the necessary water to the most fertile Palestinian agricultural land.

The wall infringes on the right of freedom of movement as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The enclaves "outside" the barrier, yet not inside Israel -- the so-called "seam area" - have been designated closed military zones as of October 2, 2003. Palestinians over the age of 16 residing in these enclaves now require a specific written permit to remain in their homes. Palestinians wanting to enter this seam area require special permission authorized by a military commander. It is projected that approximately 400,000 Palestinians will be caught living in this closed seam area when the wall is completed. Along the projected 720 kilometers of the wall, there is only a proportionally small number of projected gates or "passages" designated as crossing points. There are no guarantees that permits are granted or if issued, respected on the ground. As it stands, the "gates" in the wall are open for only very short intervals (often 15 minutes) and do not follow a fixed schedule making timely access to health and educational services as well as employment nearly impossible. The military permit system is jeopardizing children and teachers from reaching their schools, farmers from reaching their crops, the sick from reaching healthcare facilities, and Palestinians from all walks of life from reaching their places of work, to say nothing of family or other social, cultural and commercial resources. As Palestinian families traditionally fear for their women's safety and honour, preferring them not to travel too far to school or work, the wall is having negative effects on female education and employment. Until now most residents of the seam area have received permits, though they must be renewed in 1, 2, or 3 month intervals, but few residing outside the seam area are allowed to enter for any reason. One report even notes that soldiers guarding the gates in the wall are refusing shepherds access to their own grazing land on the grounds that they do not hold special permits for their goats.

Maybe because of its mammoth proportion and material nature, "The Wall" has fast become an issue of international concern. Solidarity movements are taking action and joining local residents to protest the wall, or accompany them to their fields or schools on the other side. Websites and activists groups have been formed to track the wall's progress, to monitor the confiscation of land, provide case studies of those b eing affected, and to coordinate advocacy campaigns and activities to help to stop the wall, destroy what has already been built, return confiscated land and compensate for the destruction of property and loss.

The Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network (PENGON) has taken the lead in the locally based campaign against the wall that is fast reaching around the world. The work against the wall is being institutionalized with PENGON and PNGO (the Palestinian Network of NGOs) hiring full time coordinators in the Qalqilia and Tulkarem areas to monitor the wall and manage local media relations and campaign activities. In addition, the wall was a main theme for Palestinian organizations participating in the World Social Forum in Mumbai in January. The Palestinian Authority, as of yet, has no clear agenda for addressing the issue, but is preparing itself well for the coming trial in the Hague.

In October 2003, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution demanding that Israel "stop and reverse the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem". 144 members voted in favor, while only 4 voted against ( Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, and the United States) with 12 abstentions. In December, the General Assembly requested an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice in The Hague to determine the legal consequences of the construction of the wall. The date for these hearings is set for February 23, 2004. While Palestinian negotiators and advisors are preparing themselves for these hearings, one can only guess how many more facts on the ground will be in place by the time of their commencement.

While the wall continues to be an obstacle to peace, human security, real negotiations, or a viable Palestinian state, it is providing an issue that is beginning to mobilize different sectors of the Palestinian population to be active at a time when most energy had been exhausted in the three year long Al Aqsa Intifada, or uprising against the occupation. And despite the insecurity and uncertainty that Palestinians continue to feel in the hands of a hostile occupation and without a representative government, the past year has seen some very positive measures. In spite of numerous invasions, closures, and curfews, substantial programs have been undertaken in development and emergency response. These can be divided into four main fields: the continuing and improved service provision in different sectors, increased advocacy both domestic and international, an increased focus on institutional capacity, and finally prominent public debate on democratic transformation and reform. Some specific successes of 2003 worth mentioning are the completion of the Palestinian Participatory Poverty Assessment by the UNDP and the Ministry of Planning and the Welfare Consortium's 36 million dollar program to aid development and encourage partnerships between the NGO, governmental, and private sector

While killing civilians on both sides must be condemned, preventive actions must be monitored to safe- guard the rights - whether they be human, civil, social, economic, or cultural - of all parties concerned. The wall will not provide security for Israel and continues to violate Palestinians' rights. While there is much attention given to preventing so-called terrorist attacks, little is paid to the underlying reasons for them - poverty, inequality, and oppression. These issues need to be understood and addressed in order to ensure human security around the world. For the Palestinians, the immediate step in this

See "Definitions", Article 1 of the ""Israeli Defense Forces Order Concerning Security Directives (Judea and Samaria) (Number 378), 1970 Declaration in the Matter of Closing Territory Number s/2/03 (seam area) (Judea and Samaria), 2003" that went into effect on October 2, 2003 available in English at http://www.nad-plo.org/hborders3.php.

"Behind the Barrier: Human Rights Violations as a Result of Israel's Separation Barrier", Bteselm - The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, p. 3, April 2003, available at http://www.btselem.org. Italics in the cited text are original.

"The West Bank Wall; Humanitarian Status Report, July 2003 - Northern West Bank Trajectory", UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) In the occupied Palestinian territory.

Btselem, April 2003, p. 29

Report of the Secretary-General prepared pursuant to General Assembly resolution ES-10/13" United Nations General Assembly, A/ES-10/248, November 24, 2003, p.3.

B'Tselem p. 7.

The Stop The Wall in Palestine: Facts, Testimonies, Analysis, and Call to Action, The Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network (PENGON) , Jerusalem, June 2003, pp 32 -33 and 28.

B'Teselem p. 8.

One US dollar is equivalent to approximately 4.4 Israeli shekels

Report of the Secretary-General prepared pursuant to General Assembly resolution ES-10/13" United Nations General Assembly, A/ES-10/248, November 24, 2003, p.6.

Report of the Secretary-General prepared pursuant to General Assembly resolution ES-10/13" United Nations General Assembly, A/ES-10/248, November 24, 2003, p.6.

UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/58/3, "Illegal Israeli Actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the Rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory", October 21, 2003.

"Report of the Secretary-General prepared pursuant to General Assembly resolution ES-10/13" United Nations General Assembly, A/ES-10/248, November 24, 2003, p.6.

"Theory into Practice into Final Implementation: The Wall's Path is Based on Ultimate Control over Palestinian Water Resources", Abdel Rahman Al Tamimi, Palestinian Hydrology Group, in The Stop The Wall in Palestine: Facts, Testimonies, Analysis, and Call to Action, The Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network (PENGON) , Jerusalem, June 2003, p. 163.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights Art. 13 (1)

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Art. 12 (1)

"Israeli Defense Forces Order Concerning Security Directives (Judea and Samaria) (Number 378), 1970 Declaration in the Matter of Closing Territory Number s/2/03 (seam area) (Judea and Samaria), 2003" that went into effect on October 2, 2003 available in English at http://www.nad-plo.org/hborders3.php

"Report of the Secretary-General prepared pursuant to General Assembly resolution ES-10/13" United Nations General Assembly, A/ES-10/248, November 24, 2003, p.6.

See "A Day in the North", PENGON/Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, January 10, 2004, available at http://stopthewall.org/latestnews/258.shtml.

See the "The Stop The Wall Campaign" website at http://www.stopthewall.org as well as

UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/58/3, "Illegal Israeli Actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the Rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory", October 21, 2003

See "Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (Request for an Advisory Opinion), Order, International Court of Justice, December 19, 2003.
Invitation: Research Conference on Bandung in the 21st Century
Author: Secretariat, APRN

Asia Pacific Research Network

Invites you to a research conference on

Bandung in the 21st Century: Continuing the Struggle for Independence, Peace against Imperialist War and Globalization
APRIL 14-16, 2005
Bandung, Indonesia

Conference organizer:
Asia Pacific Research Network

International League of People's Struggle Study Commission No. 2
and the Institute for Global Justice

Hosted by:
Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria and
Konsorsium Pembaruan Agraria

The conference covers three thematic areas: development and economic globalization; the dominance of the US as global superpower with an agenda of global security; and the struggle for independence and peace against imperialist"war on terror." It aims to study and analyze the issues of independence from imperialist globalization and war, to create interest in conducting coordinated researches on issues of independence and the role of the people in the context of various issues relating to neo-liberal globalization and war and to promote cooperation in developing strategies for people's action.

Speakers include Michel Chossudovsky (Center for Research on Globalization, Canada) Chandrakant Patel (SEATINI, Zimbabwe), Dennis Brutus (Jubilee South Africa), Antonio Tujan (APRN/IBON, Philippines), John Jones (IGNIS, Norway), Radha d' Souza (Waikatu University, New Zealand), Azra Sayeed (Roots for Equity, Pakistan) Carol Araullo (ILPS) James Goodman (UTS, Australia), Harsha Kumura Navartne (SEWALANKA, Sri Lanka), Fidel Agcoaili (NDF Philippines), Erfan Faryadi (KPA,Indonesia), Usman Hamid (AGRA, Indonesia) and many more.

For more details please contact Jaz Buncan at secretariat@aprnet.org or visit http://www.aprnet.org.

Announcement: Research Conference on Bandung in the 21st Century
Author: Secretariat, APRN

Asia Pacific Research Network in cooperation with
International League of People's Struggle Study Commission No. 2 invites you to

Bandung in the 21st Century: Continuing the struggle for Independence,
Peace against Imperialist War and Globalization

April 14-16, 2005
Bandung, Indonesia


Hosted by:

Institute for Global Justice
Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria
Konsorium Pembaruan Agraria


The famous Bandung Conference of 1955 has been regarded by most scholars as the first and the most emotional and visionary conference of non-aligned countries ever to be held in the 20th century. Coming at the heels of the tenth year after the end of World War II, when people throughout the world won great victory in their fight against fascism and significant changes took place in the world politics - the collapse of the colonial system. In Asia and Africa, a great number of new national states were born after gaining independence.

In this backdrop, the Bandung Conference was convened with a view of eradicating war and oppression. It became an opportunity for Asian and African people to openly denounce colonial and neo-colonial rule and to enter the international political arena. With its resounding anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist declarations, delegates from 23 Asian and 6 African States representing more than half of the world's population met in Bandung, Central Java, Indonesia, in April 18-22, 1955 and called for an indigenous and self-reliant development in Africa and Asia based on cultural and economic cooperation and solidarity.

The 1955 Afro-Asian Summit in Bandung not only discussed mutual interests and strategy in economic development and cultural cooperation but it also ultimately led to the establishment of the Non-Aligned Movement in 1961. The term "Non-Alignment" itself was coined by Jawaharlal Nehru - the then prime-minister of India. Nehru founded the five principles which formed the basis of all international relations: 1. Respect for territorial integrity 2. Mutual non-aggression 3. Mutual non-interference in domestic affairs 4. Equality and mutual benefit and 5. Peaceful co-existence.

The world's "non-aligned" nations declared their desire not to become involved in the East-West ideological confrontation of the Cold War. Rather, they would focus on national struggles for independence, eradication of poverty, and economic development. Bandung marked a significant milestone for the development of NAM as a political movement. The Bandung Conference adopted the Ten Principles of Bandung, which further extended and entrenched the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence.

The Bandung Conference symbolized continuing efforts to establish regional organizations designed to forge unity of policy and economic cooperation among Third World nations.

The spirit of Bandung was able to bring together all the great Asian and African leaders of that time and to unite them in the defense of political freedom and national independence.

Today, 50 years after that historic meeting in Bandung, we find ourselves in a world that is run by the international institutions that control global finance in alliance with those that control global production and global trade. These institutions include the World Bank (WB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the giants known as Transnational Corporations (TNCs). We find ourselves amidst colonial and imperialist wars and a new world order of monetarist, neo-liberal globalization endorsed, sanction and policed by the single super-power of the contemporary world, namely the United States of America.

As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, we sincerely hope that through the joint efforts of the people of all countries, a new order of international politics and economy established on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence will materialize. This will help realize prolonged world peace and a beautiful future for all mankind.

We believe that the vision of struggle against any form of domination and exploitation, the spirit that searched for alternatives to the existing world order is what the Bandung conference is all about.

But the question remains, what is the significance of the Bandung conference in context of today's current affairs? What is the significance of the Bandung conference for civil society in its relations with governments of the developing countries in the light of post-Cold War globalization? How can the efforts for national patrimony and independence be preserved and promoted? What is the impact and role of people's movements in this context?

These are the questions that this International Resarch Conference on the Golden Jubilee of the Bandung Conference seeks to answer.


The International Research Conference on the 50th Anniversary of Bandung aims:

To deepen the study and analysis on issues of development and globalization, the issue of independence and the principles of peaceful coexistence in the light of a post cold war world dominated by the US as the sole superpower creating a world not based on peace and peaceful coexistence but on global security and the "war on terror";

  • To identify issues for advocacy and topics of research and to create interest in conducting research on the issues of independence and the role of the people in the context of various issues relating to neo-liberal globalization and war;
  • To promote cooperation in developing strategies for people's action including lobby, especially coordinated researches on the continuing struggle for independence against imperialist globalization and war.


This is an international research conference, which focuses on the issue of independence against imperialist globalization and war. The proposed theme is "The Spirit of Bandung: Continuing the Struggle for Independence Against Imperialist Globalization and War."

The Conference will cover three main thematic areas:

  • Research reports on country trends and issues of development and economic globalization
  • Research reports on country trends and issues of independence and the doominance of the US as global superpower with an agenda of global security,
  • Research reports on country trends and issues of independence and the "war on terror"

The Conference will be held in Bandung, Indonesia on 14-16 April 2005. The Institute for Global Justice based in Jakarta and its partner peasant organization, Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA) AGRA and KPA based in Bandung will be the hosting this event. IGJ is an organization mainly focused globalization and WTO issues.

While the conference will be open to all members of civil society including academics and also to interested representatives of third world governments, APRN members are expected to attend the Conference. The first two days shall be open to the public. The APRN Secretariat shall announce the Conference to its international network of organizations while IGJ shall take care of the national announcement in Indonesia. Participating organizations and individuals shall be invited and selected to attend the three-day conference on the basis of their experiences, performance and commitment to research work as a service to their respective grassroots organizations and NGOs and their involvement in campaigns and advocacy in general. All participants, except APRN members and presentors/speakers, are expected to pay for conference fees and charges.

Proposed Program




WED, 13 APRIL    


Dinner, introduction, music

Statement: International Research Conference in Bandung Commemorating the Golden Jubilee of Asia Africa Conference 1955
Author: Research Conference

We the participants from 14 countries and 40 organizations have gathered at the Permata Bidakara Hotel, Bandung 14-15 April 2005 to commemorate the spirit and vision of the Asia-Africa Conference held fifty years ago.

The Asia-Africa conference was the culmination of the struggles of the peoples of Africa and Asia for national independence, freedom from colonialism and a just and equitable society. The Bandung Declaration committed the states of Asia and Africa to ten principles of peaceful co-existence including: respect for territorial integrity, non-aggression, non-interference, equality and welfare. The conference brought together the nations oppressed by colonialism and imperialism in Asia and Africa to resist domination and militarism and to build solidarities of the peoples.

Fifty years later, we find that formal independence has not automatically led to the end of economic exploitation, militaristic intervention, cultural oppression and all other features of domination and control under capitalism and colonialism. Though Bandung called for a free Palestine today Palestine is under more intensive occupation and the list of states under occupation has increased with US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The people of Indonesia, hosts of Bandung conferences then and now, find themselves trapped in debt and poverty, environmental degradation, political intervention and erosion of their democratic aspirations.

The victory of Western imperialism at the end of the Cold War has created a new and unprecedented situation for the peoples of Asia, Africa and others in the South Economically, the capitalist-imperialist policies have intensified the appropriation of the wealth of Asia and Africa to capitalist nations. Politically, the people are subjected to violation of their democratic rights, new forms of militarism, fundamentalisms and violation of national sovereignty. Culturally, ever more sophisticated means of subordination through control of mass media, and propagation of monocultural consumerism, masquerading as cultural freedom has colonized the minds of the people.

At this conjuncture the Asia Africa Summit to be held in Bandung from 22-23 April 2005 faces major challenges. We call upon the leaders of Asia and Africa gathered at the meeting to act on the pledges made by their predecessors at the first Bandung conference. More specifically, we call upon them to reject the proposals for UN reforms in the report " …“In Larger Freedom"  as suggested by the UN Secretary General to the forthcoming Summit. We demand that the leaders at the Summit:

  1. Resist increasing militarism in the region and condemn the continuous unilateral military interventions by Western powers, in particular the US, against sovereign nations under the pretext of war against terrorism.
  2. Oppose international economic policies which exploit people and resources of the South, demand debt cancellation, introduce comprehensive equitable land reforms and commit to peaceful means for ending conflicts.
  3. Disengage from, and work for the abolishment of undemocratic financial and trade institutions such as the WB, IMF and WTO and commit the States of the region to the democratization and fundamental reform of the UN.
  4. Ensure democratic rights and civil liberties of peoples within the countries of the region, including the right to determine their economic, political and cultural futures.
  5. To renew the pledge to defend the right of self-determination of peoples against imperialist powers.

Today we the people and social movements present here in Bandung reaffirm our commitment to continue the struggle for independence, self-determination and peace against imperialist war and globalization.

Paper: End Imperialist Globalization! Onward the Peasant's Struggle for Genuine Agrarian Reform and National Industrialization!
Author: Danilo H. Ramos, KMP

(A Presentation delivered by DANILO H. RAMOS * to the Bandung in the 21 st Century: Continuing the Struggle for Independence, Peace against Imperialist War and Globalization, 14th to 16th April 2005, Bandung, Indonesia)

In behalf of the struggling peasants in Asia, we congratulate the organizers and hardworking people behind this event.

Many, if not all countries', source of food and a vital pillar of the economy is agriculture. More than 70% of people in developing countries rely directly upon agriculture for their livelihood and subsistence, and 96% of all farmers live in the developing world.

Despite the crucial significance of agriculture, farmers "" the very producers of food "" remain to be one of the poorest sectors in society. Landlessness, intensifying exploitation and globalization worsened their situation.

WTO-AoA, Unfulfilled Promises

The World Trade Organization's (WTO) Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) took into effect in 1995 with the promise of " …“levelling the playing field"  in agricultural trade amongst nations. The heart of the AoA is the liberalization of agricultural trade by removing so-called " …“trade distorting barriers"  such as domestic and export support subsidies. The AoA also obliges countries to open up its markets to imported agricultural products by slowly removing import controls and restrictions.

Now, 10 years after the AoA, did it really fulfill its promises? Is there really fair trade in the WTO?

The answer is NO. In fact, liberalization of agriculture under the WTO's AoA has changed global agriculture in a disastrous level never before experienced and seen. This is true especially in developing countries where agriculture served as a backbone of their economy and a source of food for billions of people and a source of livelihood for millions of farmers and their families.

Since the implementation of WTO policies, agriculture has been tied up to the needs of the foreign market, thereby strengthening the monopoly control of industrial countries particularly the US and the EU in local agriculture. Consequently, it has tied the main sources of food to the needs of the foreign market and has subjected food to the tightening control of transnational and multinational corporations endangering the food security of nations.

More importantly, the farmers have been pushed further into the pits of poverty and hunger. The WTO and its AoA have displaced millions of farmers from their sources of food and livelihood in a global, massive and catastrophic scale.

WTO Liberalization is Plunder on Agriculture

The WTO's one-sided trade has damaged local agricultures of developing countries. In the Philippines for example, the government promised PhP11 Billion annual profits from agricultural exports and PhP3.4 Billion in agricultural surplus when it acceded to the WTO. From 1990-1994, the Philippine agricultural trade registered a trade surplus amounting to US$1.2B. However, after its entry to the WTO in 1995, agricultural trade registered an accumulated trade deficit amounting to US$5.2B from 1995 to 2001.

Dumping. While the WTO obligates countries to open up its markets for imported agricultural products, developed countries are heavily subsidizing their own agricultural production. The result is the entry of cheaper imported agricultural products competing with local products from countries not providing subsidies in agriculture. Consequently, the WTO has institutionalized dumping of cheap imported agricultural products.

The United States for example gives US$4 billion in support every year for 25,000 large-scale cotton farmers in the US resulting to the driving down of international prices for cotton and destroying the livelihood of 10 million West African small-scale cotton farmers. The United Nations Development Program estimates that worldwide U.S farm subsidies cost poor countries about $50 billion a year in lost agricultural exports.

In India, the government provides only US1 billion worth of indirect subsidies to 550 million farmers. India has seen a massive increase in the imports of agricultural commodities and products from about Rs.50, 000 million in 1995 to over Rs.1, 50,000 million in 1999-2000 - a three -fold increase.

In the Philippines, onion and vegetable growers are already bankrupt due to the flooding of cheap onions and vegetables from China and other countries. Vegetable growers from the vegetable capital of the Philippines registered a PhP53 million loss in 2003.

Intensifying Monopoly Control. The WTO and the AoA, work in the interests of agrochemical TNCs, pharmaceutical and biotech corporations and have marginalized millions of farmers throughout the world. More than 70% of international trade is between TNCs and there are only 6 agrocorporations who control 85% of the world trade in grain in search for profit.

The effects of the monopoly control of these big agribusiness and agrochemical corporations to human health and food security are slowly being felt at an alarming rate.

Eroding Food Security. Rice, for one, is one of those crops that caught the interests of industrialized countries and their home-based agrochemical TNCs. Rice is the staple food of most Asian countries. Though still protected from trading mechanisms because of the presence of quantitative restrictions (QRs), countries that protect their rice produce are being obliged to remove the QRs on rice and impose tariffication instead.

The liberalization of agriculture as well as the strengthened monopoly control of agribusiness and agrochem TNCs threatened many indigenous rice varieties in the world particularly in Asia, which is the main rice producer in the world. According to data from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), 74% of the total agricultural lands devoted to rice production are already planted with modern rice varieties displacing traditional ones.

The sad part of it all is that many food-producing countries have now become net rice importers. Asian rice imports rose from 4834.5T (" ‹Å“000) in 1990 to 15398.2T (" ‹Å“000) in 1998.

Many lands devoted for agricultural use are being converted to industrial use and eco-tourism zones. Crop conversions are also rampant focusing more on the production of high value export crops rather than traditional food crops.

More Poverty and Hunger for Millions of Farmers

The poor farmers bear the brunt in the massive onslaught of imperialist globalization. Globalization under the WTO worsened the plight of farmers who are already poor brought about by landlessness and other oppressive and exploitative relations they are into.

Farmers from India are not spared from the phenomena of migration. In a World Bank report, it estimated that the number of rural people, mostly farmers migrating from the rural to the urban areas would be equal to twice the combined population of United Kingdom, France and Germany on 2010. Not to mention, poverty has increased the rate of suicide by farmers at an alarming rate. For the past 10 years, there are at least 16,000 farmers from India who have committed suicide, blaming poverty for such fate.

In the Philippines, farmers comprise 75% of the total population and half of these number, are women. Seven out of 10 farmers are landless. Two thirds (2/3) of the poor in the country work in agriculture, fishery and forestry sectors. Poverty is deeper in the rural than in urban areas. Sixty eight (68) per cent of the people in the rural areas are poor.

Women farmers also suffer from the onslaught of globalization. In a recent gathering of Asian peasant women in June 2004 in the Philippines, they deplored the continued exploitation and oppression brought about by the neo-liberal policies under the banner of " …“free market"  globalization dictated by multilateral institutions controlled by capitalist countries like the US such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the World Trade Organization (WTO). They likewise condemned the policies of liberalization, deregulation and privatization by the WTO that worsened and intensified landlessness, poverty and hunger. These policies have denied women's right to land and decent jobs and equal access to resources, proper health care and education.

After launching highly condemnable successive wars of aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq under the pretext of a so-called " …“global war on terror" , the US acquired new economic territories in terms of sources of cheap labor and raw material (especially oil), fields of investment, spheres of influence and positions of strength. However, these did not make any substantial growth in the ailing US economy.

Instead, unemployment and joblessness continued to rise and the most significant development is that the US now suffers from an ever deepening political isolation. This political isolation was remarkably seen from Spain and the Philippine government's pull-out of troops from war-torn Iraq. The latter's pull-out was mainly due to the Filipino people's collective clamor to pull-out Filipino troops and stop the US-led occupation of Iraq.

In the Philippines, considered as " …“the second front"  of the US' so-called " …“global war on terror" , US military bases, troops and killing machines have returned under the guise of so-called " …“joint US-RP military exercises." 

This increased presence and military penetration by the US not only in the Philippines, but more so in Central Asia, primarily aims to protect its economic interest in the Asian region.

Small family farms are marginalized and eventually eaten up by big agribusiness corporations. State subsidies and social services are removed while incentives are redirected to big corporate farms. Unemployment and poverty in rural areas are on the rise.

Growing People's Resistance

Poor countries are forced to stay as producers or assemblers of raw materials and as source of cheap labors for rich countries and their TNCs. Majority of the world's population are continually marginalized and displaced "" from peasant to workers.

Thus, a rapidly growing people's movement, led by farmer's and worker's groups, to assail the effects of globalization and to work towards an alternative solution. From both rich and poor countries, the people's movement has achieved victories particularly against policies by the WTO, APEC, WB-IMF, among others, through both country-based and international campaigns.

The WTO conference in Seattle in 1999 and Cancun in 2002, for instance, were derailed as a result of continuous and united militant protests from people's movement. A Korean farmer, Lee Kyung Hae, even stabbed himself to death, while wearing a sign around his neck saying, " …“WTO kills farmers." 

In Asia, KMP led the formation of the APC in 2003 to strengthen and consolidate its ranks. We realized the need to link up and coordinate diverse and strong regional-based campaigns towards one whole global initiative.

The militant struggle of peasants is already bearing fruit through many initial victories. Numerous farmers, supported by militant peasant organizations, have been able to resist eviction from their lands, to reduce land rent or to improve the conditions of the farm workers. Other organized farmers have been able to carry out land occupations through militant assertion of their rights. Militant protest demonstrations have confronted meetings of pro-imperialist organizations like the WTO.

Our various collective initiatives like the Mumbai Resistance 2004, the Asian Peasant Coalition, the International League of Peoples' Struggle, the People's Caravan 2004, and this Bandung Conference, are our great and historic role and contribution to defeat imperialism.

As I said, these militant struggles and initiatives are already happening and steadily advancing. We must enrich ourselves with the significant lessons from our rich experience that will guide us in this long and arduous struggle against imperialism.

Let us further advance our collective struggle for genuine land reform, against agrochemical TNCs and stop their development and promotion of GMOS, to end all forms of state-sponsored terrorism, to junk the WTO and its AoA, to stop the deceptive programs of the World Bank and, for the termination of all unjust debts of peasants, farm workers and fishers.

Any country and its people must assert its sovereign right, These can only be realized through the implementation of a genuine and thoroughgoing land reform program and national industrialization in a social order that is free from US dictates and self-dependent in cooperation with other nations and peoples oppressed by imperialism and its transnational corporations.

It is the historic duty of the exploited and oppressed people's of the world to further promote solidarity of all anti-imperialist forces and wage sustained anti-imperialist mass struggles. We are confident that a broader and more powerful anti-imperialist struggles will eventually surge forward and emerge victorious amidst the crisis of the world capitalist system.

Junk WTO!

The People, United Will Never Be Defeated!

End Imperialist Globalization!

Onward the Struggle for Genuine Agrarian Reform and National Industrialization!

APC Secretariat
11-E Malamig Street, UP Village, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Email: kmp@tri-isys.com

* Danilo Ramos is the Secretary General of the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) and the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP-Peasant Movement of the Philippines).


Building the People's Movement on Climate Change

Building the People’s Movement on Climate Change: Towards COP 15 and Beyond
March23-24 at Suan Dusit Place
Bangkok, Thailand

Documents: Building the People's Movement on Climate Change
Author: Administrator

Documents from the conference "Building the People's Movement on Climate Change: Towards COP 15 and Beyond" are now available for download. Click the links on the Topic column below to retrieve said documents.

Building the People's Movement on Climate Change: Towards COP 15 and Beyond
Author: Administrator

The Asia Pacific climate change conference is now formally named "Building the People's Movement on Climate Change: Towards COP 15 and Beyond". Said conference will take place on March 23-24 at Suan Dusit Place, Bangkok, Thailand, as planned.

Draft program: Asia Pacific Climate Change Conference
Author: Administrator
Below is the draft program for the upcoming Asia Pacific Climate Change Conference. The event, organized by the People's Movement on Climate Change, led by APRN, IBON and PCFS, and locally hosted by Thai SDF. It will be held on March 23-24 in Bangkok, Thailand.
Invitation to attend the Asia Pacific Climate Change Conference
Author: Administrator

Asia Pacific Climate Change Conference:Consolidating the People's Movement on Climate Change Towards COP15
23-24 March 2009
Suan Dusit Place, Bangkok, Thailand

The event, organized by the People's Movement on Climate Change, led by APRN, IBON and PCFS and locally hosted by Thai SDF, is a public gathering that hopes to gather around 80-100 CSOs in the Asia Pacific region, with the objectives of providing a deeper understanding on the different aspects of the climate change issue from a grassroots perspective and consolidating the People's Movement on Climate Change (PMCC) towards the COP15 activities.
Invitation to COP 15 meetings and UNFCCC Poznan side events
Author: Administrator

IBON Europe will be conducting an UNFCCC side event during the Poznan Climate Change Conference, COP 14. Titled "Climate Change Funding and Development Assistance", this event will be held at the Swan Room at 7:30-9 PM on December 6. Everybody is invited to attend. For more information, contact Ms. Maria Teresa Singson, +3120 616 5288, or at mledesma@ibon.be.


China and the WTO
Conference on China and the WTO
4th Asia-Pacific Research Network (APRN) Annual Conference Statement
Author: 4th APRN Conference participants

Without doubt the process of globalization under the World Trade Organization has been rapid. In less than a decade, the WTO has caused massive restructuring of the global trading system as well as the national economies that have caused to adopt the WTO regime. Traditional areas such as agriculture, services, investments and intellectual property rights, which had long been excluded from liberalization have been opened up to accommodate the products and capital of transnational corporations. China's accession into the WTO further speeds up and expands the scope of the globalization process. It will be crucial in intensifying the adverse impacts of the WTO while important social and people's issues remain unresolved.

The WTO stands as the main vehicle of transforming global economics, politics and culture in line with the neo-liberal development agenda.

The 4th APRN Annual Conference in China has been extremely concerned about the negative effects so far of the WTO on developing countries and its threats to major sectors of China's economy.

Researchers from Chinese academics and social activists show that China's accession into the WTO tends to give up national sovereignty and shifts development away from the poor Chinese communities. Local industries have been closing shops or taken over by foreign corporations resulting to increasing unemployment.

In the field of agriculture, non-commercial farmers have been losing in the competition against private commercial farms that consistently alter China's agricultural landscape.

China's entry into the WTO tends to continue the exploitation of Chinese workers whose current working conditions has been below international standards set by the United Nations.

The conference saw that the Agreement on Agriculture has imposed the dismantling of national protection and support for food and agricultural production as well as the livelihood and welfare of farmers and consumers. Trade liberalization under the WTO has resulted in the inflow of cheap subsidized agricultural imports that have put millions of subsistence Asian farmers to bankruptcy.

The GATS negotiations now taking place are putting more pressure to dismantle national restrictions in the services sector to allow the free movement of foreign investments and guarantee foreign investors equal or even more than equal rights with nationals. The GATS is threatening to take away public control and ownership of key economic sectors such as banking, telecommunications and transportation and even deprive citizens of their human rights to basic social services such as water and power utilities, education and health.

The TRIPS has caused the increase in prices of commodities vital to life such as food and medicine and facilitated biopiracy of traditional knowledge. The TRIMS has caused the delegitimization of national protection for local production and promotion of national industrialization.

The conference was even more alarmed about the moves of the industrialized countries to enlarge the mandate of the WTO to include new agreements on investment, competition policy and government procurement. These agreements will further result in bankcruptcies of our local farmers and local firms as it will enable the large foreign companies to enter our countries and operate at will without government regulation. With the new agreements, the WTO seeks to facilitate the process of transnational corporations taking over the economies of developing countries.

The global aggression of WTO has gone beyond economics to politics. As a consequence of its agreements, developing countries are forced to undertake legal reforms that result in the virtual surrender and abandonment of the nationalist and democratic provisions of their constitutions, particularly in clauses pertaining to national patrimony and social justice. The WTO thus threatens national sovereignty and throws independent countries back into the era of colonialism.

In order to counteract the anti-people measures of the WTO and challenge its agenda for neo-liberal globalization, the conference deemed it imperative that -

Developing countries must totally resist all attempts by the rich industrialized countries to begin negotiations on the new issues (i.e., investments, competition and government procurement), as they are more dangerous than the existing WTO agreements.

Developing countries should insist the exemption of food products and the products of small farmers in developing countries from tariffication, reduction of tariffs and subsidies. Governments should assert their social obligation to place quantitative restrictions or to raise tariffs as needed to protect the livelihood of our farmers. Since the people's sovereignty is at stake, the WTO rules based on neo-liberal prescription should never be applicable to food security, self-sufficiency and agriculture.

Developing countries should resist further liberalization of the services sector and promote protection of key industries and social services.

Developing countries should be given full freedom to produce their own medicines and other consumer essentials to provide their citizens access to cheap products vital to life. Patenting of all life forms including genes and microorganisms that threaten such freedom should be banned.

Developing countries should have the freedom not to commit to reduce industrial tariffs.

Asian social movements, starting with this conference, shall initiate an ever-expanding campaign to inform and educate our people on the issues over the WTO and the 5th Ministerial meeting in order to develop a groundswell of opposition to the efforts by the US and EU to initiate a new round of negotiation to expand liberalization and globalization through the WTO.

Social movements should work towards the delegitimization and reversal of the WTO's agenda for neo-liberal globalization.

APRN as a network of research-non-government organization shall continue to provide relevant information and researches on the impact of the WTO agreements as well as analysis of the implications of the new issues and emerging trends such as China's entry into the WTO. In support of social movements and in solidarity with partners in the North, it shall work at all cost to resist and stop a new round of negotiations that may be pushed by the industrialized countries in the WTO Ministerial Meeting in Cancun and beyond.

Coordinated Research Conference on Agrarian Reform
APRN Coordinated Research Conference on Agrarian Reform
October 17-18, 2005
Talisay, Negros , Philippines
Concept Paper
Author: Secretariat
Concept Paper
Concept Paper
Author: Secretariat
Concept Paper
Development Studies
A Regional Conference on Development Models
Author: Administrator

Promoting a Transformative Agenda for Sustainable Development Regional Conference.

Plus a strategy session on Rio+20 on 17 August 2011.

Suan Dusit Place Hotel
Bangkok, Thailand
15-16 August 2011



Logistics Notes.

Conformation of Participants

Impact of Globalization on Women Labor
Research Conference on the Impact of Globalization on Women Labor
June 18-20, 2003
Bangkok, Thailand
The Bangkok Conference Report
Author: Secretariat, APRN
The Bangkok Conference Report
The Life and Struggle of Women Workers under Contractualization
Author: Center for Women's Resources
The Life and Struggle of Women Workers under Contractualization
The Impact of Fisheries Development and Globalization Processes on Women of Fishing Communities in the Asian Region
Author: Chandrika Sharma, International Collective in Support of Fishworkers


This paper looks at the impact of fisheries development and globalization processes on women of fishing communities in the Asian region and the responses of women of these communities to these developments as well as initiatives taken by them to deal with the situation in positive ways. Given the lack of information or statistics on the issues involved, the paper proposes areas for future research. It is divided into the following sections: (1) Fisheries in Asia (2) The role of women in fisheries in Asia, (3) Impact of fisheries development and globalization processes on women of fishing communities, (4) Women's participation in organizations, (5) A feminist perspective on fisheries: a need for clarity, and (6) Important research issues.

Fisheries in Asia

(i) Fishers and fishworkers

Millions of people depend on fisheries for a living in the Asian region and undoubtedly, the sector is a major source, of employment, income and food security.

According to the FAO (2002), in 2000 an estimated 35 million people worldwide were directly engaged in fishing and fish farming as a full time, or more frequently as a part time occupation, as compared with 28 million in 1990. In 1990, 84 per cent of the world's fishers were concentrated in Asia–9m in China, nearly 6m in India, and 4m in Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh and the Philippines taken together. In 2000, 85 per cent or 29.5 million fishers were estimated to be in Asia.

Majority of these are small-scale, artisanal fishers eking out a living from coastal and in-shore resources. It needs to be kept in mind that these figures are likely to be an underestimate. For example, a recent FAO study in Southeast Asia suggested that the figure reported to FAO for the number of inland capture fishers worldwide (4.5 million, full-time, part-time or occasional) is easily exceeded by those fishing in inland waters in just eight countries covered by the study, i.e. Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam (FAO Regional Office for Asia-Pacific, 2002).

Further, these figure do not include those involved in other fisheries-related activities, such as marketing, processing, net-making, boat building etc. Significantly, women play an important role in several of these activities. A conservative estimate would, therefore, place the total number of people involved in fisheries-related activities in Asia at about 150m.

It is significant that 90 per cent of the catch from small-scale fisheries worldwide goes to human consumption. In Asia artisanal fisheries are estimated to contribute at least 50 percent of total fisheries production, providing extensive rural employment (ADB, 1997). For artisanal fishing communities, fishing is a source of livelihood as well as a culture and way of life.

(ii) Fisheries and fisheries development

Important fish producing countries in the region include China, Thailand, Indonesia, Korea, India, Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam. In 2001, nine Asian countries were among the top 20 countries in terms of production from marine capture fisheries.
The marine ecosystem in Asia is known to be highly diverse and fertile, comprising mangroves, sea grass beds, coral reefs, estuaries, bays, rivers, lakes, and swamps–

biologically the most productive aquatic environments. Shelf areas of southeast and South Asian countries are rich in demersal resources, including shrimp, and small pelagic resources while the oceanic waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans have rich tuna resources.

The region has witnessed a rapid increase in fish production over the last few decades, as seen in the figure below:

This has been fuelled by technological developments in harvesting, refrigeration and transportation and growth of markets. The 1960s and 1970s, for example, saw the development of trawl fisheries for shrimp in the entire region. The focus of government fisheries development policies was on development and exploitation of fisheries resources, both for domestic consumption and export.

These policies were pursued more aggressively in the post-1980 period, when countries in the region, to a greater or lesser extent, went in for liberalization, privatization and deregulation, with an emphasis on increasing trade and foreign exchange earnings. Policies to attract foreign investment, including in the fisheries sector, were adopted. The Indonesian government, for example, encouraged joint ventures in fisheries, especially for the exploitation of offshore resources.

The consequences of these policies are clear and, in several countries like Thailand, Philippines and parts of India and Indonesia, there is strong evidence of over-fishing in coastal waters. For example, the abundance of demersal fish stocks in the Gulf of Thailand in the early 1990's was only one tenth of the level in the 1960s when the trawl fisheries started. Coastal tuna resources in the Philippines have continued to decline, encouraging an expansion of tuna fishing in Indonesian waters through bilateral arrangements. In the Philippines, some estimates suggest that as much as 65 percent of the original 450,000 hectares of mangrove area has been converted to other uses, primarily brackish-water fishponds. The decline in wild shrimp catch due to overfishing, and the resulting shortfall in the demand has resulted in the development of shrimp culture since mid-1980s, with its own set of negative environmental and social consequences.

The emphasis has clearly been on economic growth, trade and revenue generation. While the importance of management was recognized to ensure sustainability of the fisheries resource, in practice, this was not a priority. In the latter half of the 1990s, in the aftermath of the economic crisis in East Asia, when the importance of the fisheries sector as a revenue earner increased, a recent World Bank report (March 2001) noted that "levels of environmental spending, which were relatively limited to begin with, declined in all East Asian economies aside from Malaysia."

(iii) Aquaculture

Attracted by the possibilities of higher foreign exchange earning, countries like Thailand, India, Bangladesh and Indonesia provided incentives to export-oriented intensive shrimp culture. This was also the period when catches of wild shrimp in these countries were either stagnating or declining, as a result of over-fishing. Thus, while Thailand harvested as much as 90 percent of its shrimp from natural resources before 1984, mainly from the Gulf of Thailand, by 1987 cultured shrimp production had taken off focusing mainly on black tiger prawns. Government initiatives, along with higher earnings potential, prompted numerous coastal farmers to shift their production from rice to shrimp. Cultured shrimp made up 70 percent of the total yield produced in 1999. In the case of India, the share of aquaculture shrimp in the total shrimp exports from the country has grown in quantity terms from 33 per cent in 1988-89 to 59 per cent in 2001-02 and in value terms from 49 per cent to 86 per cent (MPEDA 2002)

Enough has been written about the social and ecological impact of the rapid expansion of export-oriented shrimp aquaculture, particularly in Bangladesh, Thailand, Philippines and India. There is a recognition that it is essential to minimize ecological and social impact and to move towards more sustainable forms of shrimp culture, and reportedly some progress is being towards this. However, in many areas, problems continue to persist underlining the need for better management and enforcement.

It is significant that according to FAO statistics, aquaculture's contribution to global supplies of fish, crustaceans and molluscs continues to grow, increasing from 3.9 percent of total production by weight in 1970 to 27.3 percent in 2000. Currently, two-thirds of the total food fish supply is obtained from fishing in marine and inland waters; the remaining one-third is derived from aquaculture.

(iv) Degradation and depletion of coastal resources

At the same time, the aggressive economic growth in other sectors being pursued over the last couple of decades has had consequences for the fisheries sector. For example, an Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) study in 1992 identified the following among the main marine environmental problems in the region: (i) pollution and/or siltation of coastal waters from industrial effluents, domestic sewage, and agricultural and surface runoff; (ii) pollution of some regional seas and straits from sea traffic operations, and from mining and oil exploration and exploitation; (iii) destruction of sensitive coastal ecosystems, such as mangroves and coral reefs, through cutting, reclamation, conversion, exploitation, and pollution.

Despite the growing awareness and concern, coastal and other aquatic ecosystems continue to be degraded by pollution and unsound forms of utilization. These negatively impact on fisheries, as shallow-water fish habitats such as mangroves, sea grass beds, coral reefs, estuaries, bays, rivers, lakes, and swamp are important fish breeding and nursery grounds, where many species reproduce. The barriers on most major rivers in the region, such as dams, weirs, and hydropower structures, also have a major impact on migratory species that swim upriver to spawn.

Increasing population, urbanization, intensive agriculture, industrialization, shipping traffic, coastal settlements, and a range of other human activities including offshore mining exploration and exploitation, tourism, coastal reclamation, and loss of mangroves and wetlands are all exerting increasing pressures on the marine and coastal environments.

(v) Trade

Fish and fish products are an important export commodity in the Asian region and, in 2000, seven Asian countries were among the top 20 exporters. Important exporting countries include Thailand, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia, India and Korea. Exports are mainly to markets in Japan, EU and the US. The figure below shows growth in exports from the Asian region, excluding China, both in quantity and value terms.

Globally, in 2000, total trade of fish and fishery products increased to an export value of US$55.2 billion and fish imports reached a new record of US$60 billion (FAO 2002). Developed countries accounted for more than 80 percent of the value of total fishery product imports. The net receipts of foreign exchange by developing countries (i.e. deducting their imports from the total value of their exports) increased from US$3.7 billion in 1980 to

US$18.0 billion in 2000–a 2.5-fold increase in real (corrected for inflation) terms. For developing countries in Asia and elsewhere, fish trade is clearly a significant source of foreign exchange. Shrimp is the most traded seafood product internationally, and about 26 percent of total production of shrimp is now from aquaculture.

In general, countries in Asia lay great emphasis on increasing trade and expanding exports of fish and fish products, and several initiatives have been undertaken towards this. In 1997, for example, the Asia Pacific Economic Community (APEC) leaders launched a comprehensive program to open markets in nine key industrial sectors, including fisheries. In 1998 APEC completed an agreement to "lower tariffs and other trade barriers" in these nine sectors.

East Asian countries have created several sub-regional growth areas like IMT-GT (Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand), and SGT (Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia) and BIMP-EAGA (comprising Brunei Darussalam, the Indonesian provinces of Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku, and Irian Jaya; Sabah, Sarawak and the Federal Territory Labuan in Malaysia; and Mindanao and Palawan in the Philippines). The BIMP-EAGA, a region in which fisheries is important, for example, was envisaged as a "production bloc" within which labor, capital and technology move freely and there is harmonization and coordination of micro-economic and industrial policies.

The Role of Women in Fisheries in Asia

Women take on a range of work within the fisheries and within fishing communities, in Asia and elsewhere, including:

It needs to be kept in mind, of course, that these categories are overlapping and dynamic. However, what is clear is that available data or information does not capture this multidimensional nature of work undertaken by women of fishing communities, and, not surprisingly, few policies are formulated taking into account these realities.

As workers within the fisheries (paid and unpaid)Women may work in fish marketing, in the preparation of bait, making and repairing nets, collecting crabs and shellfish, gathering and cultivating seaweed and algae, in smoking, salting and drying fish, and, in rare case, fishing. They may also work in aquaculture farms. Often ignored is the  ¢â‚¬Ëœliaison work' many wives of fishermen undertake on behalf of their fishermen husbands, such as dealing with financial institutions for credit for fisheries operations and for repayment, dealing with the governmental fisheries agencies, and so on.
As workers in processing plantsWomen are very active in the processing sector, as either part-time or full-time workers in processing plants, or workers under sub-contracting systems, working on a piece rate basis.
As those responsible for the family and communityWomen, as everywhere else, are almost entirely responsible for the care and nurture of the family. Where the men stay away fishing for long periods, women run the household in the absence of their husbands. They are important actors in the fishing community and are important in maintaining social networks and the culture of the community.
As workers outside the fisheriesOften, women of coastal fishing communities take on activities outside of the fishery, that give them some form of stable monetary income, since the income from the fishery is inherently unstable and unpredictable. In rural areas, women may be involved with agricultural work or in making and selling handicrafts made of locally available natural resources. In both urban and rural areas, women may start some work that generates income, such as running a small shop or a restaurant, either individually, or as part of groups, or take up employment as domestic workers etc.

In general, while the exact nature of the work of women differs by culture and region and between rural and urban areas, the common factor is that it is rarely seen as  ¢â‚¬Ëœproductive'. It has low social value and is normally seen as an extension of the  ¢â‚¬Ëœdomestic' space. Little value is attached to the domestic and community tasks performed by women.

The impact of fisheries development and globalization processes on women of fishing communities
As discussed earlier, coastal fishing communities in Asia and the fisheries they depend on, are being affected by various factors, both from within and outside the fisheries. These would include factors such as:

  • Modernization of the sector, including, inter alia, adoption of efficient technologies like trawling and purse seining, expansion of the industrial fleet, and the rapid development of technologies related to refrigeration, transportation and processing;
  • Increasing export-orientation as fisheries is seen as an important exchange earner by governments in the Asian region;
  • Expansion of export-oriented monoculture of species like shrimp;
  • Growing competition for coastal resources for, among other things, urbanization, industrialization and tourism;
  • Degradation and destruction of coastal resources not only to make way for the above activities, but also as a result of upstream activities including dam construction, and as a result of increased levels of land and sea based pollution;
  • Adoption of policies by States to attract foreign investment, including tax incentives and policies facilitating joint venture agreements, and labour reforms;
  • Adoption of policies linked to privatization and liberalization by States, reducing the role of the state in service delivery.

How do all these developments affect women of fishing communities and fishworkers and the multidimensional roles they play? There is little comprehensive information or research on this. What we do have are some reports and stories that give us some idea of overall trends. Based on these, the manner in which these developments are impacting on (1) women who engage in fisheries-related activities, (2) women of fishing communities and (3) women who are workers in fish processing plants, will be discussed.

(1) Women enga ged in fisheries-related activities

Women engaged in pre-harvest work such as net-making: Traditionally, nets were woven locally using cotton yarn or other natural fibre. The introduction of synthetic yarns and net-making machines has led to the displacement of thousands of people traditionally involved in these activities, many of whom were women. In Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu, India, for example, the introduction of these machines reportedly led to the displacement of 20,000 women employed in this work at one stroke. (ICSF, 1997). This has also been reported from Pakistan (Shah, 2002), and is likely to have been the case in other Asian countries as well.

Women engaged in gleaning and collection activities in inshore areas and intertidal zones: Thousands of women are working in intertidal areas and inshore zones, collecting crabs, shellfish, seaweed etc. for income and domestic consumption. Their work and incomes are rendered highly vulnerable by increasing levels of pollution (especially near urban and industrial areas) and destruction of coastal habitats, such as mangroves (among other things due to shrimp aquaculture). It is also common that these lands are taken over by tourist and other interests, given the growing pressure on coastal resources and the fact that most fishing communities have no legally recognized rights to coastal and intertidal lands.

Women engaged in fish processing and marketing activities: Traditionally, women of fishing communities in many Asian countries have been playing important roles in marketing fresh fish, and processing surplus catch for sale at a later date. In many ways fishing was often a family-based enterprise. However, with modernization of the sector, the growth of the industrial fleet and the expansion of domestic and export markets, the situation has fast changed. Bigger players with capital have entered the sector as financiers, export agents, etc. and it is this chain that controls the chain for fish, especially higher value fish, as seen in India (Salagrama 2002). Women of fishing communities, with meager access to capital, information and technology, tend to handle low-value fish, or trash fish, for the domestic market. They face increasing problems in getting access to fish catches. The fact that landing are more centralized and often at great distances from the fishing village, has not made the situation easier, as women are forced to travel longer distances, as in Sri Lanka (Amarasinghe and Kumara 2002).

All this is not to deny that some women have managed to become successful entrepreneurs, taking advantage of the new opportunities offered by the lucrative domestic and export market for fish.

Women are also feeling the impact of policies facilitating exports and trade pursued by States in the region. This is particularly the case when the species imported or exported are those that have a local market and provide local employment. In India, for example, the export of ribbonfish, a species that has a good local market, to China, has expanded with repercussions for the thousands of people in the chain employed in processing, transporting and selling the fish, often to distant markets. In the Philippines, imports that are entering the wet market through illegal channels, are depressing prices and thereby incomes of local producers and vendors of fish. In Sri Lanka, imports of dried tuna have reportedly depressed prices in the local market, reducing the income of local women processors.

Women workers on aquaculture farms: It is known that the growth of aquaculture (marine and inland) is providing employments to thousands of people in the Asian region, including to women. However, there is little or no information about the conditions of work on these farms, the wages given etc. The little information available is anecdotal. For example, it is known that shrimp aquaculture units in Thailand employ migrant labour from neighbouring countries (to minimize labour costs), and this aspect needs to be better understood. Shrimp aquaculture in many cases has been extremely lucrative in the initial period, till hit by disease or other problems, forcing many farms to shut down. The impact on workers in these farms is not known.

(2) Women responsible for the family and community

Women of fishing communities have crucial roles in the care and nurture of their families and communities. Women are responsible for many of the land-based roles, including handling and selling the fish, cooking and housework, care of the children and elderly, maintaining community and social networks etc.

Developments at sea have had implications for all these roles of women. For example, the growth of trawling and the industrial fleet in Asian countries has been a constant source of conflict in the region. Small-scale and artisanal fishermen have had to face increasing competition for resources, often in the same fishing grounds. Many fishermen have lost their gears and nets, and even their lives, at sea as a result of indiscriminate trawling activities and conflict in inshore zones. Such conflicts have been witnessed in several Asian countries including Indonesia, India, Thailand and Malaysia.

Artisanal and small-scale fishermen allege that such forms of non-selective fishing deplete and degrade resources and that large catches by these fleets depress market prices. For women of fishing communities, this has often meant a decline in the income available to run the family and household. It has also, in extreme cases, meant having to cope with the loss of their men in conflicts with trawlers, as in Indonesia (Sharma 2000)

It is also the case that as resources become scarce, the small-scale and artisanal fleet in the Asian region, for example in Sri Lanka, India, Philippines, is moving into deeper waters, often into international waters or into the Exclusive Economic Zones of neighbouring States. There are several cases where small-scale vessels have been confiscated and the crew arrested and even jailed, often for months and even years. The plight of the family of crew members back home is not difficult to imagine. The entire burden of keeping the family intact falls on women. (See for example, Kumara, 2000, for a report on arrests of Sri Lankan fishermen).

Degradation and destruction of coastal habitats and pollution, overexploitation and salinization of groundwater, is increasing common in the coastal belt of Asian countries. Given that the burden of bringing water and fuelwood is often on the shoulders of women, the tasks of daily survival are becoming increasingly onerous and time consuming. As several coastal villages, especially in Asia, lack toilets and sanitation facilities, a little discussed impact is also the problems faced by women as a result of decline in tree cover (Salagrama 2002). All these aspects imply a clear decline in the quality of life as linked to environmental degradation, an aspect that is little reflected in data or statistics.

In addition, given the growing trend of withdrawal of States from service delivery functions, the costs of education and healthcare are increasingly passed on to families and communities, who can ill afford to take on this burden. Women, as care givers and nurturers, take on a much greater burden.

And finally, there are many cases where fishing communities have been uprooted and displaced, or face displacement, to make way for  ¢â‚¬Ëœdevelopment' (industry, urban growth, tourism ¢â‚¬Â¦). Ironically, even as fishing communities are victims of environmental degradation, they are now increasingly victims of conservation efforts. Blind ill-conceived environmentalism is leading to the displacement of communities from their fishing grounds and coastal lands they have traditionally occupied. The growth and power of such environmentalism, with a middle-class, urban and Western understanding of environmental issues, is yet another disturbing manifestation of globalization.

(3) Women as workers in processing plants

Export of processed fish products is an important source of foreign exchange for countries in the Asian region, particularly for Thailand, China, Taiwan, India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Philippines. Exports markets are highly competitive and the Asian region, with cheap labour and relatively good access to resources, tends to enjoy a competitive edge.

At one level, fish processing plants provide employment to thousands of workers, particularly women. However, reports indicate that women tend to be employed in low-paid jobs with low levels of job security, often under poor conditions of work with long-term implications for their health, as has been reported in India (Nishchith 2001). In several countries, including India, processing plants employ young women migrant workers (Yemaya, 2000), and there are reports of the difficult working and living conditions, low pay, and harassment of women workers. In India, sub-contracting is also common, and some tasks take place outside the plant premises, as in peeling sheds (Nayak 2001), where workers are employed on low wges and often paid on a piecemeal basis.

While cost cutting, often at the expense of the labour employed, is one dimension, given the fiercely competitive nature of the sector there have also been cases where processing plants have been shut down, causing large-scale unemployment.

In many Northern countries processing plants have either shifted to countries with cheaper labour and greater resource availability, or shifted to highly mechanized operations, causing large-scale displacement of labour. It is only a matter of time that countries in Asia also go in for such technology, perhaps in the name of complying with the high sanitary standards imposed by Northern countries, with severe implications for local employment. This is a trend that needs to be closely monitored.

Women's participation in organizations

At a recent meeting of fishworker organizations (FWOs) and NGOs in the Asian region held in Thailand (Sharma 2002), it was noted that in most countries of the region, efforts at developing fishworker organizations are relatively recent. It was further noted that even where fisherfolk have organized, women are often not part of such organizations. Organizations present shared the problems they faced in organizing women. It was evident that women of fishing communities in the Asian region have a long way to go in terms of seeking better representation within organizations and within decision-making processes.

Women tend to be more active with organizations at the community and local level. This has been the case in several countries and women have been active in various struggles, for example, against trawling activities in Indonesia and India, against the gas pipeline project in Thailand, against joint ventures in India, against arrest of Sri Lankan fishermen in third countries in Sri Lanka, and against activities that degrade the coastal environment in the Philippines and Sri Lanka. They have been very much a part of community initiative towards resource management, as in Thailand and the Philippines.

In general, efforts towards increasing women's representation within FWOs and within decision-making processes have been made by various organizations, in various countries, at various levels, including in Asia. In some regions, women have also explored the opportunity of organizing autonomously. The experiences have varied. These experiences cannot also be seen apart from larger processes operating within organizations, societies and cultures.

In some cases, where women have organized and have been given the space to represent their interests within FWOs, the participation of women has strengthened the larger organization and broadened its agenda. Women have been able to raise issues that concern women as fishworkers even as they have actively supported the struggles of the fishermen.

Most significantly, they have raised issues that concern the quality of life within fishing communities–issues such as access to health, sanitation and education. They have brought in a community perspective to the fisheries debate. Their ability to do so stems from the fact of the multi-faceted roles they perform, roles that straddle the home, the family, the community and the workplace.

Where this has not been possible, a complex of issues may have been involved. Women themselves tend to undervalue their own work and contribution, and are hesitant to take on more active roles within organizations. To help women recognize their own self-worth and their own identity as fishworkers and as important members of the family and community, is in itself a challenge.

In some cases, even when the importance of women's participation is emphasized by the organization, little is in fact done to make this possible and women continue to be marginal players. In other cases, the attitude towards women's participation has been patronizing, and little space has been provided for women to bring forth issues that are of concern to them. At most, women are seen as actors supporting the agenda of their men. Where women have organized and have become a force, this has even been perceived as a threat, and has become a divisive issue.

Patronizing attitudes or those that reduce the issue to one of men versus women, are unfortunate and self-defeating. If the aim is to valorize the artisanal fisheries sector, by the same logic we will have to work to valorize the role of women in the sector and the vital contribution of nature and its services to the life and livelihood of fishing communities.

A feminist perspective on fisheries: a need for clarity

While on the issue of women's participation in organizations, the most appropriate form for organization, in a given cultural and social context, needs to be explored. In some cases, it may be more appropriate for women to organize as part of an existing organization of fishworkers, especially where this presents an opportunity for their issues to be addressed collectively. In others, it may be appropriate for women to organize autonomously, and to participate in the larger organization as a group, rather than as individuals. Or, it may be more appropriate for women to organize separately, and work with other organizations as appropriate.

A related issue is the need to develop a greater clarity on what could be the contours of a  ¢â‚¬Ëœfeminist perspective' in fisheries. There is a danger otherwise of subscribing to agendas of organizations that, in the long term, facilitate the unsustainable use of resources and undermine the community basis of fisheries, or, for that matter, which do not pay due attention to the concerns and issues of women of fishing communities. The quest, therefore, must be to enhance women's participation in organizations, but on terms set by them.

In this context, it would be vital to keep in mind that women of fishing communities take on multidimensional roles, roles that in mainstream terms straddle both production and reproduction. In other words, women play vital roles within the family and community, apart from being income earners in the fisheries and outside it. The issues that they raise, therefore, are necessarily multidimensional in nature, and would include issues such as health, education, and drinking water, apart from those that are fisheries-related aspects.
It is clear that women would benefit from participation in organizations if the agenda of such organizations includes the sustainable use of resources and improving the quality of life of fishing communities, apart from issues specific to the fisheries.

It is clear that for this to happen, the concept of  ¢â‚¬Ëœproduction' needs to be brought into clearer focus. This needs to be understood to refer to both the production of commodities and the production of life, generally called  ¢â‚¬Ëœreproduction'. In mainstream terms, the production of life is considered something  ¢â‚¬Ëœnatural' and is relegated to the private sphere and, therefore, is considered to have no real cost. It remains invisible. Bringing this vital aspect back into the reckoning will call for a recognition and valuation of the labour that goes towards the creation and sustenance of life, a large part of which is performed by women. This would also call for an appropriate valuation of, and respect towards, nature and its resources.

A feminist perspective would then question mainstream thinking on production, and would raise vital questions such as: is the value of women's work less because it is not reflected in economic data and is not valued by mainstream society? Is the value of the services provided by nature less because it is not  ¢â‚¬Ëœcounted' in mainstream economic analysis? Is the value of artisanal fisheries any lesser because its contribution is underrated?

It is only by restoring the value, by bringing into the matrix the  ¢â‚¬Ëœinvisibles', that development priorities can to be reshaped and women's priorities addressed. There needs to be a rethink on issues such as the use of technologies, which may bring in higher incomes for a few in the short run, but which, in the long-term, affect the quality of life of communities and the sustainability of resources.

Restoring the value to certain types of work and roles, hitherto undervalued and taken for granted, should also lead to a redistribution and sharing of these roles, and a reshaping of gender relations. But this will also mean questioning the dominant discourse and those who set the terms for this discourse and define what is valuable. Redefining what is valuable will also mean redefining power relations that exist between the rich and poor, between men and women, between races and nationalities.

Thus, while it is important to work towards valorizing the work and roles of women in fishing communities and in increasing their representation and role in decision-making bodies and processes, this must be within the context of strengthening the capacity of fishing communities and fishworker organizations to counter adverse forms of development and to work towards a sustainable, equitable and gender-just fisheries.

Important research issues

Given this background, future research, should, in the final analysis, lead to a better understanding of women in the fisheries sector and to policy outcomes that support not only women in the fisheries sector, but a form of fisheries development that is more sustainable and equitable. The following research areas are proposed:

(1) Accurate data: The most glaring gap, even after the role of women in fisheries has been extensively highlighted for over two decades, is the lack of comprehensive and accurate statistics on women's roles in fisheries. Such statistics are not available in any developing country, despite the fact that there are several methodologies that can be used to capture such data effectively. The policy implications of such an absence of statistics are obvious. This gap must be filled.

In this context, the starting point of any data collection exercise must change. Rather than asking  ¢â‚¬Ëœdo women of fishing communities work?, the starting question has to be  ¢â‚¬Ëœwhat work do women of fishing communities do?'. That fishing communities in the Asian region are economically vulnerable is well known. Anyone familiar with the reality of these communities would know that  ¢â‚¬Ëœnot working' is a luxury not available to the men and women of small-scale and artisanal fishing communities.

It is thus essential to document the work women do within the fisheries and within the fishing community and household. This can provide a holistic picture of their workday, the time they put in and the problems they face. It will also clearly indicate that, through their close interaction with the coastal ecosystem and through their work (in collecting water, firewood, fruits, in fishing etc.), women are likely to have a broader  ¢â‚¬Ëœecosystem perspective'. This will also make it clear that women will have a lot to contribute in a context where the importance of bringing in ecosystem considerations into fisheries management is increasingly being recognized.

(2) The landing centre is, in many ways, the hub of many fisheries-related activities. Research on the work women are doing in landing centres, the niches they occupy, the problems and competition they face, the organizations they are part of, and how things have changed over time, would be very revealing and useful, bringing out also the dynamism of women in coping with the massive changes they have had to deal with, particularly over the last couple of decades. It would provide useful information for policy initiatives.

(3) The market is another area for further research, to understand the role women play in fish marketing and the problems they face (in transport, in accessing market facilities, in accessing credit, etc.). This will also help throw light on marketing chains for different kinds of fish, and the role that women play in these different chains.

(4) Women within organizations: A better understanding of whether women are part of organizations within communities and at the regional and national levels, the constraints they face in participation, the different perspectives they have brought in, and ways in which their meaningful participation can be strengthened, would also be highly relevant. A better documentation of the responses of communities to adverse developments, and positive initiative taken by them, would be very meaningful.

(5) Women in fish processing plants: Given the importance of the sector in the Asian region, it would also be useful to study the conditions of work in the sector, wages and gender-based differentials in wages, the changing nature of employment (increasing casualization for example), the impact of changes in technology and markets etc.

(6) Women workers in aquaculture: As mentioned earlier there is no information about the level of employment and conditions of work in aquaculture units in the region. Given that aquaculture is growing at such a rapid pace, it is important to look at this dimension and to monitor trends.

While all these remain important areas for research, the importance of process cannot be overemphasized. Any research should be undertaken in a participatory manner, in ways which clearly benefits and empowers those at the community level, particularly women.


  1. ADB, 1997. The Bank's Policy on Fisheries, ADB, Manila
  2. Amarasinghe O and Kumara H, 2002. The Process of Globalization and Sri Lanka's Fisheries in Proceedings of the Asian Fisherfolk Conference: Cut Away the Net of Globalization, 2002, Follow-Through Committee, Thailand
  3. ESCAP, 1992. The State of the Environment in Asia and the Pacific 1990, ESCAP, Bangkok, 1992.
  4. FAO, FISHSTAT, 2003. FAO Fisheries Department, Fish Information, Data and Statistics Unit, FISHSTAT PLUS 2.3 Version
  5. FAO, 2002. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture, FAO, Rome.
  6. FAO Regional Office for Asia-Pacific, 2002. Inland capture fisheries statistics of Southeast Asia: current status and information needs. Thailand.
  7. ICSF, 1997. Women First: Report of the Women in Fisheries Programme of the ICSF in India. Volume 1. (Women in Fisheries Dossier Series No. 2). International Collective in Support of Fishworkers, Chennai, India
  8. Kumara, Herman, 2000. Whose Problem? in Yemaya No. 4, International Collective in Support of Fishworkers, Chennai, India
  9. Marine Products Export Development Authority, 2002. MPEDA-An Overview, MPEDA, Kochi, India
  10. Nayak, Nalini, 2001. Public hearing, in Yemaya No. 8. International Collective in Support of Fishworkers, Chennai, India
  11. Nishchith, VD, 2001. Role and Status of Women Employed in Seafood Processing Units in India, in Williams et al (ed) International Symposium on Women in Asian Fisheries, ICLARM Contribution No. 1587, Manila
  12. Salagrama V, 2002. Fish Out of Water: The Story of Globalization, Modernization and Artisanal Fisheries of India, in Proceedings of the Asian Fisherfolk Conference: Cut Away the Net of Globalization, 2002, Follow-Through Committee, Thailand
  13. Shah, MA, 2002. A bleak Future, in Yemaya No. 9, International Collective in Support of Fishworkers, Chennai, India
  14. Sharma, C. 2000. Skirting the ban in Yemaya No. 3. International Collective in Support of Fishworkers, Chennai, India.
  15. Sharma, C. 2002. Coming Together in Yemaya No. 9, International Collective in Support of Fishworkers, Chennai, India.
  16. World Bank, 2001. East Asia Update: Regional overview: Special Focus Corporate and Financial Restructuring, Poverty Reduction and International Development Goals, Environment, World Bank, East Asia and Pacific Region.
  17. Yemaya No. 6, 2000. Harsh working conditions, letter written by the National Commission of Labour Rights (NCLR) to the Ministry of Labour, India. Yemaya No. 6, International Collective in Support of Fishworkers, Chennai, India
Organizing and Mobilizing Filipino Migrant Women in Canada
Author: Cecilia Diocson
Organizing and Mobilizing Filipino Migrant Women in Canada
Announcement No. 2
Author: Secretariat
Announcement No. 2
Author: Secretariat
Jobs and Justice
APRN Conference on Jobs and Justice
December 7-8, 2007
Cebu City, Philippines
Women Workers Organising for Change: Challenges for the Labour Movement
Author: Irene Xavier

Briefly I want to establish the key characteristics of the nature of living and working conditions of women. Today in most Asian countries women work increasingly in the informal economy. This is the type of work that receives least protection, remuneration and notice. Women work in areas that are the least organized as well. For example in Malaysia the largely feminised electronics sector employers have defied the various organizing strategies since its introduction in the 1970s and how they have got away with it. Women are constantly trafficked into all sorts of dangerous work in the region and receive scant notice by the authorities. Thirdly in many parts of Asia women have to work under regimes that are hostile to them using various excuses. Thirdly organized women mainly belong to male-dominated trade unions that have generally refused to take up issues essential for women & sexual harassment, reproductive health issues, etc. Finally I want to point to the fact that capital in much of the feminised industries in Asia is highly mobile. So we continue to see cycles of sudden employment for women in one country followed by factory closures and capital flight to other countries. All of these factors make organizing among and by women workers extremely difficult.

Yet in the face of these challenges many women workers have organized and continue to organize. I want to point out some of these experiences. When industrial work became increasingly informalised in Japan and Korea trade unions did not and often would not organize them. The issues of organizing women workers who did not have a common factory floor, or an easily identifiable employer or a common workplace were challenges that traditional factory trade unionism did not want to venture into. As a result many efforts were initiated by women themselves to organize into women's unions and community unions. Today when male workers have been pushed into the informal economy in a big way, trade unions are beginning to face the challenge of organizing in the informal economy in Korea for example.

Another organizing experience among women workers is in Sri Lanka. Here when trade unions were not allowed to organize in the Free Trade Zones, activists (mainly women) organized the women workers in the boarding houses and educated them. This finally resulted in the formation of a trade union in the Free Trade Zones in Sri Lanka. Though there may be much more work that needs to be done to make this union more women-led, the initial organizing was done in an alternative way. I think the trade union in Malaysia who want to organize the electronics sector cam learn much from this experience.

There are also numerous examples of how women workers have organized to defend their rights through using the consumer movement in the North to put pressure on contractors producing for certain brand labels. There has been much success in some of these instances though this strategy has not always worked. There are many examples of how contractors would give in initially to this type of pressure and reinstate dismissed workers, or grant recognition to unions and yet after a couple of years they would move production to other places and the workers lose their jobs. In some cases like the North Sails Case in Sri Lanka is dragging on for many years. Another development is that even the International Trade Unions like the ITGLWF have sometimes also used a similar strategy by putting pressure on the brand companies. Yet it must be remembered that most mainstream trade unions still do not use this type of organizing strategy.
From these experiences I want to draw some points about organsing women workers.

Firstly I want to say that women in the informal economy provide an opportunity for organising. Just as poor working conditions for women and children during the industrial revolution led finally to the formation of trade unions the masses of women workers in the informal economy pose a similar challenge today.

Secondly because the people we are trying to organize are mainly women it gives us in the progressive labour movement a golden opportunity to attack patriarchy in addition to capital. We missed the first opportunity when trade unionism was first being introduced to the world. Now we have yet again another opportunity. Attack all the forces that contribute towards making labour cheap and docile and patriarchy certainly leads in this. Unions have a golden opportunity to redefine themselves. Work for women is not confined to the workplace or to paid labour. For most working class women work includes both domestic and paid work. There is much that needs to be explored in this area and much to be defended in the interest of the reproduction of the working class.

Thirdly much of the female labour in Asia is migrant labour. This creates another opportunity to straighten out another problem that has plagued and hindered the victory of the working class- race. We have seen how this migrant sector has brought a new organizing impetus in the US. Such an opportunity presents itself in many of our countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Korea and Japan. We cannot go on denying that race, caste or colour are not union issues. The Garment and Textile Workers Unions in Victoria for example found out that these issues needed to be addressed if the union was going to survive. The issue of colour and language was dividing the garment workers and giving employers an opportunity to lower working conditions in the sector. So the union took that challenge and the union continues to survive because it found ways to reach the migrant workers, the non-English speaking workers, the home-based workers.

Trade Unions need to be inclusive rather than exclusive in their attitude if women workers are going to be organized. Inclusion needs to extend to many areas & race, gender, sexual orientation, and even perhaps to support for political parties. If workers continue to be divided along lines of political party affiliation the capitalists can get with many things.

Fourthly in Asia many women workers live in situations of war and conflict. Trade Unions often ignore this aspect of life for women workers. Issues of difficulty of finding work for women in these situations or for the increased number of women-headed households are not generally regarded as labour issues. As the war on terrorism, fascist and patriarchal fundamentalism and other such oppression extends in Asia new labour issues emerge. For example in Kelantan, Malaysia the state government has imposed a dress code on women workers. Reactions against this generally came from the women's movement. The labour movement did not see this as a labour issue, just as they did not see sexual harassament as a labour issue. I believe these challenges will increase in the years to come and labour activism cannot ignore them.

In conclusion what I am arguing for is that women workers are posing a great challenge to trade unionism to restructure itself. In the last few decades we saw how trade unionism both on the left and right failed to stop the march of global capital mainly because of its rigidity and political party affiliations. The rightwing unions refused to question the rightwing parties that encouraged neo-liberal globalization. Likewise leftwing unions refused to question their parties when they made mistakes about workers independent organizing efforts. Well we have seen where that got the workers in socialist and former socialist countries. In the same way I am saying that labour activism needs to rethink its positions and strategies as new challenges are being posed in organizing new forms of labour that are largely female in many parts of Asia.

Informal Employment in China
Author: Yu Mi, Xu Xiao Hong, Apo Leong

Note: this is a joint research paper for the APRN conference in Cebu by Yu Mi (People's Unversity), Xu Xiao Hong (Zhejiang Trade Unions College) and Apo Leong (AMRC)   Comments are most welcome! They can be contacted by &Yu Mi (fisheryu921@sohu.com), Xu Xiao Hong (xahgzr@mail.hz.zj.cn) and Apo Leong (apo@amrc.org.hk) Date: 4th December 2006

The so-called "informal employment" dates back to the late 1960s, when the ILO was conducting research on poverty and employment issues. The research team conducted social surveys to help them study and establish the national and regional employment promotion plan. In the survey, the experts found that there were a large number of make-a-living economic activities without registration and recognised by the government in the urban areas of developing countries.

herefore the government could not find any ways to put these activities under control or provide them any protection. ILO officially introduced the "informal sector" to generalize this kind of economic activities in its report "Employment, Income and Equality: the Increase of Productive Employment in Kenya" and the relevant employment pattern as "informal employment".

However, ILO does not define these concepts strictly. For China, under globalization, the changes in the industrial structure, economy, there have been an unprecedented problem of urban unemployment. Although the Chinese government has taken several effective measures, the number of unemployment is so huge and its complexity so great that the authorities at all levels find it difficult to deal with this problem. They all feel that in order to put forward an appropriate solution, fresh and innovative ideas are needed. In this context, the study on informal employment has generated much interest from various parties which try to explain or analysis the situation under the China context.

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Table 1. Decline of Employment in the State and Collective Sectors

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Number of migrant workers (peasant workers or rural workers) recently amounted to 120M,with annual increase of 55M.
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    In 1996, Shanghai City introduced the concept of "informal employment", which refers to a new employment pattern of the laid-off and unemployed workers. They can not establish a stable labor relationship with their new  ¢â‚¬Ëœemployers', or the condition does not permit them to do so. This includes the individuals or organizations to participate in community service, public environment/hygiene improvement; or to provide temporary or urgent services for enterprises, corporations or local residents. It also includes the self-employment practice such as the cottage industries and handdicraft workshops. Informal labor organizations officially include : housework services, catering services, logistics and distribution, electric appliance repair, miscellaneous repair work, materials recovery, darn laundry, hairdressing, copy typing, vehicles management and other service providers; removing house and logistics service of the labor service; handicrafts, woven articles, souvenirs and other simple processing industry in the workshop. This approach was then taken up by local governments in other provinces such as Zhejiang, Anhui and Qinghai. But all these definitions exclude rural workers and only include the urban unemployed. Based on the development of informal employment, the definition promoted in "the report of the informal employment in China" by the Labour Science Research Center under the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MOLSS) is more appropriate .It refers to all sorts of employment different from the traditionally mainstream employment based on the industrialized and modern manufacturing system in work hours, compensation, working places, social security, and labor relations. Generally speaking, informal employment has following characteristics[1]:

  1. There is almost no systematic connection between informal employment and   social security. Even if there is, it is poorly observed.
  2. The basic form of compensation is generally hourly rated and very occasionally piece rated.
  3. The compensation is no more than the legal minimum wage.
  4. The labor relations are too instable and temporary.
  5. The informal employment falls outside the governmental monitoring especially the taxation

1. The main body and characteristics of informal employment

According to the status of the informal employee's working and living conditions,  we can see that informal employment is a kind of employment pattern of the vulnerable group in society. Their deprivation, which not only reflects poor economic conditions, but also inferior political and cultural status, leads to the formation of an underclass.

Based on the results of the spot check made by the Bureau of   Labor and Social Security of Haidian District in Beijing in 2001, there are 32.2% lay-offs,22.7%unemployed,13.5% migrant workers,7.7% retirees,5.7% persons on furlough and 8.5% others, and 0.7% migrant workers from Beijing. [2] In the harmonization process of unemployment insurance and basic living stipend, the laid off workers will enjoy social insurance benefits or the minimum living standard at the city level, meaning the phasing out of the laid off phenomenon. So the main body of informal employment is unemployed and migrant workers.
The source of the main body suggests that the informal employees` education background is rather low, and so is their competitiveness in the labor market.

Based on a research on the flexible employment in Anshan City by the China Institute of Industrial Relations it was found that there are 56.1% of interviewees who have graduated from junior high school or elementary school, 32.5% from senior high school, 6.5% from technical secondary school or professional school, 4.9% from junior college and others. On special skills, the number of flexible employees without special skills is the largest, accounting for 58.2%, 27.5% of them have the elementary qualification of a technical or professional post,14.2% have the junior qualification of a technical or professional post, but no flexible employee having senior qualification. [3] At the same time, there are 20.3% males and 79.7% females (interviewees were the workers in the city); pn age composition, those who are 35 or younger account for 27.9%, those who are 35 to 45 account for 64.8%,which constitutes the main part of the flexible employees, and those who are 46 or older occupy 7.3%.

Moreover, flexible employees concentrate in the service sector.   There are many casual workers and hourly workers who are employed in the shops, restaurants and other service industries; dispatch workers and self-employees supply public and domestic services. Manual contract workers are generally found the construction and light industries.

2. Working conditions of informal employees

(1) Compensation  

In general, the pay of informal employees is low and is internally heterogeneous.

For example, some small enterprise owners have fixed workplace.   They invest large amount of capital and manpower, operating under the proper management decisions, so their earnings are relatively high. In contrast, household servants, the apprentices are in the lowest level of society and their earnings can not meet even the basic need of living, which can be seen table 2.(4)   In addition, according to the second phase survey on the women status, which was conducted by the China Women Federation, The annual average income of informal employment male is 621.72 Yuan, which is  less than that of formal employment.

However the discrepancy of income between informal employment of female and formal employment male is larger and goes up to 1665.2 Yuan. The annual average income of informal employment for female is only 5982. 15 Yuan and monthly income is less than 500 Yuan. In 2000, the annual average income of employment for male in the city is 8272.82 Yuan and for female it is 7073.34 Yuan, which is 85.5 percent of the male income. According to the form of employment, the income of formal employment for female is 88 percent of the male income, compared with 80.30% for the informal female employment. As for formal employment, the discrepancy of income between male and female is 1684. 58 Yuan, while for informal employment, the number is 2728.06 Yuan.[4]

Table 2. The income, standard deviation coefficient, distributed situation of formal employment and informal employment

Professional type

Average income(Yuan)

s.d.of income

The proportion whose income is lower than overall average income

Regular worker




Temporary worker




Hour labor, odd-job




The family operation,   work by ones own




(2) Working time and Workplace

It is perhaps inevitable for informal employees to work for extra hours. As mentioned above, small enterprise owners are in relatively high income level within the informal employment group. But they gain higher income through longer working time and higher labor intensity. Moreover, in order to meet the basic survival needs, the domestic worker often needs to rush around between several employers, working for uninterrupted long time to gain more income. The, investigation by a local Communist Youth League in Guangdong Province 2002 demonstrated that 80.5 percent of interviewees worked for 10 to 14 hours nearly every day, 47.2 percent of interviewees did not have any holiday, they could not get overtime pay even they had worked overtime. [5]

One characteristic of international informal employment is that there is no fixed working place, which maybe different from our country experience where formal employees always work together with informal employees. Quite a lot of temporary workers, dispatch labor, the seasonal workers are working in formal enterprise which has a fixed workplace. In fact only the street corner peddlers and the casual workers  do not have a fixed workplace. The author randomly interviewed some informal employees which are mainly street corner peddlers and the faction delivers in the area of Zhongguan Village of Beijing Haidian District and found that they did not care about whether the working time is beyond the legal standard and whether they have the fixed workplace, what they care about is whether they could work for extra long hours and promptly shift to another workplace. For instance, the informal employee who sells the small accessories on the foot-bridge must avoid the frequent raid by city inspectors. They must be prepared to carry the goods and flee as soon as possible. Once caught by the inspectors, their goods will be confiscated and fined.

(3) Trade union organization

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ACFTU is the only legal trade union body in China.   It is based on enterprise or danwei (unit) unionism, which tends to ignore the union rights of the informal workers.   To add salt to injury, the formal workers tend to discriminate against the informal workers and so virtually the informal workers were excluded from joining trade unions.   Now the situation has changed.   The ACFTU has declared to launch a membership drive to recruit them, particularly the migrant workers.   At present, the ACFTU claims to have a membership of 150M, with 20M migrant workers which represent 20% organised rate.   On the average, the organised rate is 69.2%, which includes the organised rate of 66.8% of the SOE workers, and 59.3% of the private sector workers.

Throughout the history of the trade union movements in China, it is obvious that there is a close relationship between the job security of the workers and the organized rate of the trade unions. The more stable the jobs are, the easier to get people organsied. On the contrary, if workers do not have job security, the organized rate will go down accordingly. The informal employers, whose jobs are flexible, job locations are mobile, and who have multiple labour relationships, cannot join trade unions. The informal employers themselves, who are under great pressure to earn their livings, have a low sense of unionizing. According to an investigation held by the author in a medium-sized private enterprise in Hubei, out of the total 17 interviewed informal employees, 14 of them did not know whether they had or whether they could join a trade union. And the other 3 knew that they were not union members, but still believed that it was not necessary to join one: only to work and earn more was enough.

On the other hand, for more than ten years the Chinese trade unions did not regard the informal employers, like the casual laborers and the peasant workers, as their target group for protection, but considered them as the first target during laid off. Aiming at increasing the benefit and protecting the regular staff's posts, the unions usually negotiate with the employers to dismiss the casual laborers and the migrant workers at first and to make arrangements for the surplus staff. Then, between the joint efforts of the  ¢â‚¬Ëœpulling' and  ¢â‚¬Ëœpushing' function, the trade unions' organization rate is undoubtedly affected by the course of the informalisation in China nowadays.

(2) Labor relations

The labor relations operational mechanism of the informal employment is not normative and characterized by complixity, multiplicity and instability. It is still under dispute who has the proper labour relationship with the dispatch or informal workers as they serve more than one  ¢â‚¬Ëœemployer'. The migrant workers who have made labor contracts with the employers are different from those informal employers, and their written contracts also have lots of differences from the regular staff's in labor standards and democratic rights. The laid off workers on paper are still considered as employees of their former enterprise, but factually they are working for another employer. In this obscure labor relationship, some people suggest that the informal employees should be different from the formal employees in working hours, labor conditions and labor rights. Knowing that the defectiveness of the corresponding rules and laws on the labor contract management and social security, it is hard for the informal employees to get their labor rights protected. Most of them cannot get any labor contract, social security or labor safety protection. It's in the non-public owned enterprises that the employing forms are most complicated, and the informal employers are larger in number and much easier to be invaded than the others. In 2002, labor supervision departments of all levels in Guangdong province registered and investigated more than 8000 cases, in which the employers had delayed or defaulted the wages with no reason, especially in the private owned enterprises that covered 58% [6] of the aggregate number. In 2004 the informal forum, a group of astonishing figures were announced: in the 1162 invested informal employers from Beijing, 83.3% of them were working 8 to 16 hours per day, and 37.6%  ¢â‚¬Ëœsometimes didn't rest in a month', with 42.4%  ¢â‚¬Ëœnever rested', and moreover, those who had never made labor contracts with the markets, managing departments or employers covers 69.3% of the whole, with a number of 87% that had the experience of not getting the wages. [7] Just because of the frequent and common torts, most of the labor dispute cases of China involve informal employees.

3. The relative policies and measures of our country

The current situation of China's informal employment makes us realize that : firstly, only to guide and regulate the non-regular employment and raise it to the legal levels, can we get the guarantee which protects the rights and interests of the informal employees; secondly ,the situation of employment is severe, informal employment will be the main channel for increasing the employment in a quite long time .because to a great extent the development of non-regular employment is influenced by the tax policies ,it needs the coordination of the tax departments .

(1) Rights Protection

Currently, our country has a few specific laws and regulations to protect the informal employees' basic rights and interests. Moreover, the basic Labor Law does not cover the informal employees.

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(2) Tax Incentive

Our country has carried out the following tax incentive policies for the informal employment:

a. The tax incentive policies for the unemployed workers engaged in the individual management

These policies stipulate that the unemployed workers who have the "Re-employment Preferential Benefit Card" issued by the Department of Labor and Social Security and engaged in the individual management from the end of year 2005 can enjoy the following preferential policies from the day of receiving the tax affairs registration certificate: those who engaged in the business tax's dutiable items, can enjoy the policy of 3 years' exemption of the business taxes, the city maintenance construction tax, the education expenses attachment and the personal income tax; those who engaged in the increment tax's dutiable items, can enjoy the policy of 3 years' exemption of the city maintenance construction tax, the education expenses attachment and the personal income tax, but according to regulations the increment duty can not be exempted. The aim of above policies is to encourage the unemployed workers to engage in the individual management.

b. The tax incentive policies for the informal departments such as the individual   investment enterprises, individual joint venture enterprises who create the employment of the laid-off workers

These policies regulate that if the re-employed workers of the enterprise to achieve the stipulation proportion, and conform to other conditions of the re-employment tax policies, may enjoy the policy of 3 years' exemption of the business taxes, the city maintenance construction tax, the education expenses attach, but not the personal income tax. These policies, to a certain extent, promote laid-off workers' re-employment and alleviate our country's employment pressure.
In addition to the national related policies, the local governments of all levels also carried out various policies .for example, for the further job creation, guiding and supporting unemployed person to organize themselves for the employment spontaneously, in 2002 Ningbo City carried out the "The Opinion about Encouraging Unemployed person to engage themselves in the Informal Employment", and will also promote a series of preferential policies for the development of the informal employment, the opinion has assigned the scope of informal employment, has stipulated the recognized procedure of the informal employment labor organizations, and provided the essential policy support in the taxes and fees, administrative and entrepreneur charge , management charge, fund guarantee, job loan and so forth. In  order to reduce the risk of the workers and the third party person's injury and the belongings loses in the labor process also a commercial insurance will be set up .[8] Obviously, most of the policies are carried out for resolving the problem of employment, few aim for the improving the situation of informal employees and protecting their rights and interests. In reality, since the informal employment lacks the law and social security systems, two "safety nets", the further improvements of both the national legal system and the social security system are badly needed, as well as the further extension of their coverage.

[1] Chen Huai, developing informal employment is a strategic choice, Jing Ji Zong Heng, issue 5,2001

[2] Labor and Social Security Bureau in Haidian District of Beijing, establishing flexible employment system to adapt market employment mechanism -- investigation of flexible employment in Beijing Haidian District, Journal of Beijing Labour Cadre College 2002 (1).

[3] QiaoJian ¯Â¼Å’To create a favourable development environment for flexible employment & case study of Anshan   City in Liaoning Province in 2001, Chinese labor network http://www.labornet.com.cn, 4- 11-2002

[4] Jiangyongping ¯Â¼Å’Informal employment and sex differentiation in labor market ¯Â¼Å’ £â‚¬Å seminar papers of the third session on the rights of the women migrant workers £â‚¬â€¹ ¯Â¼Å’Beijing ¯Â¼Å’2004- 10

[5] Huangqin £â‚¬ÂMeizhiqing ¯Â¼Å’ the report of investigation about basic living conditions of youth who enter a city for work in Guangdong Province ¯Â¼Å’ £â‚¬Å South weekend £â‚¬â€¹ ¯Â¼Å’17-1-2002

[6] Disputes about wages in Guangdong province in 2002,http://www.sina.com.cn ¯Â¼Å½2003.1.2

[7] Zhen Li, focus on the rights of informalworkers,http://www.agri.gov.cn/llzy/t20041025_257886.htm ¯Â¼Å½2004.10.25

[8] Non-regular employment policies worked out by Ningbo ,the Ningbo information center , http://www1.cei.gov.cn/rei/doc/DQNBZC/200208276985.htm ,August 27th ,2002.

Jobs and Justice Programme
Author: APRN Secretariat

An International Conference on Neo-liberal Market Restructuring,
Labor Rights and Workers' Resistance
December 7-8, 2006
Cebu City, Philippines

Date & Time


Resource Person


December 6

Arrival and registration of participants

December 7

8:00 -- 9:00am




9:00 & 9:10am

Cultural Performance



9:10 -- 9:45am

Opening Remarks

Jane Kelsey


Elmer Labog


9:45 --10:30am

Keynote Speech


Rep. Crispin Beltran
(message to be read by Sammy Malunes)

Chairman Emeritus of KMU & Rep. of Anakpawis Partylist

10:30 -- 10:45am

Housekeeping Announcements


10:45 & 12:00nn

Panel 1: Job Degradation

Chair: Tetet Lauron



- Flexible employment

Sani Oliveros



- Informal Employment in China

Xu Xiao Hong


12:00 -- 12:30pm




12:30 -- 2:00pm


  2:00 -- 3:00pm

Panel 2: Attack on livelihoods and working conditions

Chair: Sani Oliveros



- Global distribution of incomes

Sonny Africa



- Working hours & OHS issues

Apo Leung



- Labor Migration

Ramon Bultron


3:00 -- 3:30pm




3:30 -- 3:45pm


3:45 -- 4:45pm

Panel 3: Attack on workers' rights

Chair: Ramon Bultron



- Changing Labor laws & regulations

Peter Murphy



- Trade liberalization & labor rights

Jane Kelsey



- Loss of benefits under flexibilization schemes

Diane Mathiowetz


4:45 -- 5:15pm




5:15 & 5:45 pm

Sum-up & Introduction to workshop on key issues and strategy questions at the local, national and regional levels

Chair: Jane Kelsey


5:45- 6:30 pm

Break-out groups

  1. Employment
  2. Wages, incomes & work conditions
  3. Workers' rights

6:30 & 7:00

NOISE BARRAGE & March to Fuente Osmena

7:00 & 8:00




December 8

5:00& 6:00 am

POWER JOG & STC to Waterfront Hotel



7:00 & 8:30 am




8:30 & 9:00 am

Plenary presentation of workshop results

Chair: Peter Murphy


9:00 -- 10:30am

Panel 4: Organizing the unorganized

Chair: Jini Park



- Organizing contingent workers

Jared Philips

UNITE-New Zealand


-  Organizing informal workers

Steve Ranjo
Kim Sung Hee

Irregular Workers Labor Center


- Organizing in the EPZs and special economic zones

Romeo Legaspi


10:30 -- 10:45am


10:45 -- 11:15am


Chair: Peter Murphy


11:15 -- 12:15pm

Panel 5: Workers struggles (campaigns) for jobs, wages & democratic rights

Chair: Diane Mathiowetz



- Fighting for living wages

Joel Maglunsod



- Fighting for jobs & job security

Jean Pierre Paige



- Fighting for trade union & democratic rights

Len Cooper


12:15 -- 12:45pm




12:45 -- 2:00pm


2:00 -- 3:00pm

Panel 6: Struggle of women workers, agri. Workers & migrants

Chair: Azra Talat Sayeed

Roots for Equity


- women workers

Irene Xavier
Jini Park



- migrant workers

Connie Bragas-Regalado



- agri workers

Jose Teruel


3:00 -- 3:30pm




3:30 -- 3:45pm

Introduction to workshop on organizing & campaign strategies

Chair: Tess Dioquino


3:45 -- 4:00pm




4:00 -- 5:30pm

Break out groups

  1. organizing the unorganized                                                     - industrial workers
  2. women workers                                                                                         - agri workers
  3.  migrants                                                                                                            -   public sector workers

5:30 & 6:00pm

Plenary presentation of Workshop results

Chair: Tess Dioquino


6:00 & 6:30pm

Plenary Discussion, sum-up, closing

Antonio Tujan Jr.


6:30 & 7:00pm

Closing activities



7:00 & 8:00pm




Author: APRN Secretariat

I. Background and Rationale

Neoliberal globalization has been roundly criticized for advancing the interests of global capital at the expense of the world's majority who are faced with falling relative incomes, greater economic and social insecurity, diminished social entitlements, environmental degradation, as well as greater restrictions on the exercise of their democratic rights. Unable to deny the mounting evidence attesting to the failure of the Washington consensus to spur development, its unreconstructed advocates are blaming the victims of their neoliberal policy prescriptions for having poor institutions, bad governance and corrupt cultures. Jobless growth in particular is being blamed on inflexible labor market institutions.

Hence the Washington consensus is now being "augmented" by pushing for a more aggressive neoliberal restructuring of labor markets both in the industrialized North and the underdeveloped South. Labor markets are being "liberalized" through the introduction of "flexibility" in the application and observance of mandatory labor standards, the minimum wage, job security, the 8-hour workday and other so-called "rigidities" that hamper the freer operations of capital. Labor regulations and fiscal policies are being re-written to further encourage outsourcing and contingent employment within and across national borders. Employers' privilege to hire and fire is strengthened while the collective rights of labor are being whittled down in order to dissipate workers' solidarity, impede organizing and undermine collective forms of action and resistance.

This CONFERENCE ON JOBS AND JUSTICE aims to provide a venue for workers organizations, trade unions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and labor advocates to exchange information on current trends in neoliberal labor market restructuring in the various global regions and share their experiences in struggle. By deepening the political and technical analysis on which their activities are rooted, the conference is expected to provide the participants and their constituents with more tools in resisting the unremitting neoliberal offensive against working people, defending workers' rights and advancing the struggle for economic and social justice.

II. Conference Objectives

This CONFERENCE ON JOBS AND JUSTICE shall bring together workers organizations, trade unions, civil society organizations, researchers and labor advocates from the South and North to:

  1. share information and analyses of the trends and impact of neoliberal labor market reforms on workers and other social sectors in their respective countries or regions
  2. share their experiences of struggle against these reforms and other threats to labor
  3. identify issues and areas for further research, action and cooperation among the participating organizations
  4. map out a common platform for advocacy and campaigning with the aim of strengthening workers rights, promoting workers organizing and building links with the struggle of other marginalized and oppressed sectors in society
  5. express international solidarity and unity with unionists, labor organizers and other activists in the Philippines who are the targets of an ongoing campaign of extra-judicial killings, disappearances and other gross human rights violations perpetrated with impunity under the present regime

III. Overview of the Conference

The conference will be held at Manila on December 8-10, 2006. It shall consist of six thematic panels and two strategy sessions as follows:

Day 1: Examining Key Trends

  • PANEL 1: Labor Flexibilization, Informalization & unemployment
  • PANEL 2: TNC outsourcing, global supply chains (include EPZs issue) & Labor migration
  • PANEL 3: WTO, regional & Bilateral "free trade" agreements
  • Strategy Session 1: research & advocacy agenda

Day 2: Organizing & Resistance

  • PANEL 4: On Organizing the unorganized, defending the right to organize
  • PANEL 5: Struggle for jobs, wages & job security
  • PANEL 6: Struggle of women workers, farmworkers & migrants
  • Strategy Session 2: Organizing & Campaign Strategies

Day 3: Human Rights Day Mobilization

The strategy session at the end of Day 1 is expected to result in a proposed common research agenda for the participants in the conference. The strategy session at the end of Day 2 is expected to distill the lessons on organizing and resistance drawn from the sharing of the participants from the day's discussion. It is also hoped that the participants will come up with a common organizing and/or campaign platform.

On the third day, conference participants shall join local labor and other social activists in a public demonstration on the occasion of International Human Rights Day. The extraordinary number of extra-judicial killings, disappearances, political harassment and other gross human rights violations in the Philippines under the present government is being likened to the deplorable record of the dark years of the Marcos dictatorship, earning condemnation from local and international human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Asia Human Rights Commission. The International Confederation of Trade Unions (ICFTU) noted that "the number of labor related killings in the Philippines now places it in a similar category to Colombia, which holds the macabre record of the highest number of assassinations of trade unionists in the world. The Philippines appears to be heading rapidly towards second place." These violations are therefore a grave concern for the international labor movement and deserve vigorous condemnation.

IV. Conference Participants

The conference is open to all those who are engaged in the labor movement and committed to labor rights advocacy. Around 40-50 international participants are expected to attend, representing South and North, from workers organizations, trade unions, NGOs and other labor-related organizations or institutions. They will be joined by 10-20 local participants from various workers organizations, unions and NGOs.

V. Conference Organizers

The Conference is co-organized by the Asia-Pacific Research Network (APRN), Asia Monitor Resource Center (AMRC), Asia-Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM) and Action, Research and Education Network of Aotearoa (ARENA). The Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) and the Asia- Pacific Workers Solidarity Links (APWSL)-Philippines shall serve as local host organizations.

VII. Logistics

Conference organizers shall provide modest food and accommodations for all participants. Owing to the limited resources of the organizers, international participants are encouraged to seek financial support for travel costs to and from Manila and other incidental expenses.

Formal invitation letters will be sent upon request and confirmation of participation. For confirmation and more information please contact secretariat@aprnet.org or solidarity@eilerinc.org.

On War and Terror

Conference on War and Terror
November 3-5, 2003
Beirut, Lebanon 

Conference Report
Author: Secretariat, APRN
With the theme,"War and Terror: People's Rights and The Militarization of Globalization ", seventy-one participants from twenty-two countries in the Asia-Pacific (including Canada) and Afro-Arab regions gathered for the 5th APRN Annual Conference on 3-5 November 2003 at the Le Meridien Commodore Hotel in Beirut, Lebanon.

It was the very first APRN conference held outside the Asia-Pacific region. The conference venue was supposed to be held in Bangladesh following the decision of the Guangzhou General Council meeting in November 2002 with UBINIG as the local co-host. The choice of Beirut was just an alternative venue thus, when it was clear that UBINIG cannot host the conference, Beirut was immediately consider with Bisan Research Center for Development vouching the feasibility of holding the conference in the Middle Eastern city with the nod of the Arab NGO Network for Development (an applying member to the APRN) to act as local hosts.

Mainly, the 5th APRN Annual Conference was aimed at unmasking the"War on Terror" articulating its collaborative agenda with corporate globalization led by the WTO. It intended to probe into the militarization of corporate globalization thereby expanding the social difficulties of the people and as it stifles the impacts, struggles and alternatives in the attainment of global justice, peace and development.

The objectives of the conference were aimed at providing a venue for understanding terrorism as an unjust and oppressive instrument that deprives peoples to fully exercise and enjoy their basic freedoms and human rights and understanding the US-led"War on Terrorism" as a coercive strategy to push corporate globalization and its adverse impacts on the development initiatives of social movements. At the same time, the conference hoped to gather strategies to challenge corporate globalization including the militarization of its process and identifies alternative development strategies and programs founded in global solidarity, justice, and peace. At the same time, it sought to identify research projects that shall be undertaken by APRN in collaboration with its partners to sustain education and information on War, WTO, and Globalization.

Keynote speeches, panel discussions and workshops were undertaken to facilitate the achievement of these conference objectives. Renowned academicians from Canada, Egypt, Japan and Lebanon together with some APRN members and partners in Asia presented and discussed their papers on terrorism in the context of globalization at the macro level as well as to more particular areas on war and globalization in the Middle East, East Asia and South Asia.

The workshops expanded the sharing and discussion of the main theme treading along the areas of impacts of militarism on the economic and social rights of the basic sectors.

The identification and decision on the content and methodology of the conference including the speakers and facilitators were done through a tedious process of consultations and exchanges within the APRN as well as with those invited to speak in the conference and host the workshops.

Resulting from the participatory process, the conference substantially achieved its objectives as optimum and meaningful participation of the delegates was facilitated despite the language barrier and differences in political persuasions.
America's war without borders
Author: Michel Chossudovsky

The world is at the crossroads of the most serious crisis in modern history. In the wake of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, in the largest display of military might since World War II, the United States has embarked upon a military adventure which threatens the future of humanity.

This war agenda was clearly enunciated in the blue-print of global conquest entitled a "Project for a New American Century", published in September 2000, a few months prior to the accession of George W. Bush to the White House.

The objectives of the PNAC's blueprinting entitles "Rebuilding America's Defenses, Strategy, Forces and Resiurces for a New Century, is to "fight and decisively win multiple simultaneous theatre wars". This Road Map to Empire, which is fully endorsed by the Bush administration not only envisages direct military ation against so-called "rogue states" (Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya and North Kores), it also targets China and Russia as potentioal rivals in a global war "without borders."

On Hiroshima day, 6th of August 2003, the Pentagon's top military brass were meeting behind closed doors at Strategic Command Headquarters at the Offutt Air Force base in Nebraska, with representatives of the America's multibillion weapons industry, to define a new generation of nuclear weapons, to be used on a "pre-emptive" basis (eg. for self defence) against "rogue enemies" and terrorist orgnizations.

This new nuclear policy, which has already been approved by the US Senate, asserts, without supporting evidence, that the new "mini-nukes" (with an explosive capacity between one third to six times a Hiroshima bomb) to be used in conventional war theatres, are "harmless to civilians" because the explosion takes place underground.

Ironically, in this Strangelovian logic, nuclear weapons are now viewed as a means to ensuring peace and global security. They are being developed to prevent so-called "rogue enemies" and "terrorist organizations" from using their (non-existent) "weapons of mass destrucion (WMDs) against America and its allies. In this context, the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center are used as the pretext. Al Qaeda and Osame bin Laden are presented both in official statements and in the media as a justification for waging war.

While debate cencerning Washington's nuclear weapons is relagated to the inner pages of the newspapers, the headlines and tabloids have been cluttered with thousands of repetitive stories on Iraq's (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction and the alleged links of Saddam to Osama bin laden.

Public opinion has been blatantly misled. At this juncture of our history, these US plans using the most advanced and sophisticated WMDs, constitute the gretaest threat to global security. Washington's programs as outlined in the PNAC is stated quite openly: "to ensure US political and economic domination of the World, while strangling any potential rival or "alternative" to America's vision of a "free market" economy."

Terrorism, War and Globalization in the East Asia/Southern Asia: Conflict, Poverty, Maldevelopment, and Peacelessness
Author: Mitsuo Okamoto, Ph. D.

"The Law of the Jungle" Resuscitated

The law of the jungle has become the hallmark of our new age. It is the age of terror, peacelessness, and war without justification by international law. Although wealth has been flowing from the South to the North in the last few hundred years, and having impoverished the South, the fig leaf rational law of international trade and transaction used to be in order. However, in this new age, the fig leaf is removed and humanity is faced with two naked monsters, namely, Neo-Nazi and "Neo-Con", the former being white racist in Western Europe, and the latter the dwellers of the White House in Washington, DC. Their disregard of human rights, international law, and intergovernmental treaties would embarrass even the most shameless dictators in history.

In the US, a Texas man "with no brain" has become President who was not elected by the people, but "anointed" by seven Supreme Court Judges who had been appointed to the office by his father when the latter was President. In order to "accomplish" what Papa-President had started, the Son-President used the rhetoric of war against terrorism, punishment of terrorist supporting "rogue" state, elimination of weapons of mass destruction, and democratization of Iraq. Did he ever think if a "democratized" Saudi Arabia, a "democratized" Kuwait, or a "democratized" Qatar? Did his aides ever think these monarchies would be much more malleable for the US ambition after democratization?

In Japan, where the Constitution, the supreme national law, prohibits the existence of "land, sea, and air forces as well as other war potential", a remarkable constitution dedicated to non-violent pacifism or conscientious objection on a state level, the Parliament overrides it and enacts a new bylaw which allows sending military forces overseas, notably to Iraq. Diplomatic pressure from the US is obvious, but an anachronostic nationalism encouraged by the ruling coalition parties cannot be ignored. If neither President of the US nor Prime Minster of Japan, leaders of two major nations, do not adhere to international laws or domestic laws, how can we denounce borderless paramilitary or non-state actors for their violence?

Danger of Weapons of Mass Destruction

The Bush/Blair war in Iraq was supported by some people primarily because they were genuinely concerned with weapons of mass destruction which Saddam Hussein had allegedly produced and hidden in the bunker of the Presidential Palace or elsewhere in Iraq. As of the beginning of November 2003, half a year after the Iraqi occupation by Bush/Blair forces had started, no WMD has been discovered. The rational Bush/Blair and their accomplice used was the genuine fear of nuclear weapons whose super destructive power had long been advocated world-wide by the anti-nuclear weapons movement. In particular, many hibakusha in Hiroshima have been actively engaged in making people, domestic and international, aware of a cosmic danger of nuclear weapons, "a flying Auschwitz." For Them peace movement means movement against nuclear weapons and nothing else.

Therefore, we, peace activists, pay a special attention to the two resolution in the First Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations. It is expected that nations will vote today (Monday, November 3) on these two very important resolutions proposed by the New Agenda Coalition. The first NAC resolution (A/C.1/58/L.40), entitled Towards A Nuclear Weapon Free World: A New Agenda, is based on the Final Document of the 2000 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, where all parties to the NPT unanimously agreed to advance the nuclear disarmament agenda by means of 13 practical steps. The second NAC resolutions (A/C.1/58/L.39), entitled reductions of Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons, specifically tackles the issue of tactical (that is, sub-strategic) nuclear weapons.

NAC consists of a group of seven nations: Argentina, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and Sweden.

These resolutions are very important in the contemporary international situation because, first, they address an extremely dangerous policy of the US strategists to give nuclear weapons a new role and, second, they give a warning against proliferation of nuclear weapons illustrated by North Korea which has declared its withdrawal against from the NPT, and third, they demand an earliest and complete abolition of nuclear weapons on the basis of multi-national negotiations of the NPT. We consider the commitment of the NAC delineated in those two resolutions plays an important role toward the NPT Review Conference schedules in 2005.

As a new board member of the PARC (Pacific-Asia Research Center which is a corporate member of APRC), I have an impression that our Japanese group, PARC, has been dealing with world's as well as domestic socio-economic problems, but it has rarely dealt with problems of nuclear weapons, militarization, and weapon's transfer. Coming from Hiroshima, and self-representing Nagasaki as well, I am keenly aware of my role to warn you and the world in general that nuclear weapons, militarization, and weapon's transfer are just as serious as socio-economic problems and they have to be addressed as such. In particular, an international consensus that five permanent member states of the UN's Security Council are legally allowed to possess nuclear weapons, or uncritical attitude towards holding a military weapon's trade fair have to be delegitimatized or anathematized. Those inhumane weapons and merchants of death have no role international politics whatsoever.

Today, it has become a commonplace to consider the US the most dangerous nuclear "rogue state" of the world. Even The New York Times insinuated what is just said. Certainly, proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction has to be stopped. For, the less nuclear weapon states are in the world, the less the likeness of nuclear war. That is also the raison d'etre of the NPT and the world has accepted it as an important international treaty. The Bush Administration has utilized the consensus and justified its illegal attack on Iraq.

Today, no other nation but the US which has developed, produced, and accumulated the most dangerous and inhumane weapons of mass destruction whether they are nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons. In quantity and in quality, weaponry of army, navy and air forces as well as Marine Corps which the US has manufactured and deployed worldwide under the rubric of the "Stockpile Stewardship" even after the end of the Cold War has acquired "Global Reach" and exceeds a combined battalion of some 20 powerful military powers like Russia, China, India, Japan, and the major NATO countries like Germany, France, and the UK. Not only land, sea, and sky are filled with American tanks, warships, and airplanes, but also outer space is filled with American satellite and laser beam weapons capable of fighting Star Wars.

As dogs are given artificial bones to chew, the world is given North Korea, Iran, and Libya to scrutinize whether they have developed WMD. However, unless the powerful nations like the US and others abandon WMD, smaller and weaker nations will not abandon the right of self-defense even depending on WMD as India has clarified its position at the Disarmament Conference in Geneva several years ago. The world may reluctantly accept temporary double-standards, but not for ever.

War and "Peacelessness"

In general, due to economic recession a social unrest is increasing all over the world. Euphemism has become a commonplace in Japan where dismissal or firing is called "restructuring". A permanent employment, which used to be the cornerstone of the Japanese employment system, has now become a historical episode and young workers are increasingly offered only part-time jobs which do not guarantee their futures. A mood of resignation looms large in society and people are driven into ethno-centered, inward-looking jingoism.

This is an age of doubt-standards. It means the same laws are applied differently depending on who you are. If you are rich and strong, or protected by them, you do not have to obey the laws. But, if you are poor and weak, and in particular, of you are recalcitrant or naughty to the government, you will severely be punished. You may be expelled from your own country where you are the boss.

An Indian peace researcher Professor Sugata Dasgupta once said, what characterizes developing countries is neither war nor poverty. It is "peacelessness". Life remains a curse even after civil wars have ended. Unless not only wars and violent conflicts but also starvation and poverty disappear, we are far from being peaceful.

Irene, the goddess of peace, will be ashamed if faced by such statement. For the strong and rich peace means no war and in particular no nuclear war. Thus, some of you know well, Johan Galtung, a Norwegian peace researcher, has conceptualized the "peacelessness" and called war and terrorism direct violence, and starvation and poverty structural violence.

However, the world has begun to suffer from a different kind of "peacelessness" after 9/11th. Some say it started already in the 1990s. What happened after the end of the Cold War was the demise of communism which advocated egalitarianism as its ideal. Intrusion of "free" market capitalism has become universal. During the days gone-by, capitalist nations emulated socialist nations in the area of education, medicine, and social welfare for fear for Domino phenomenon of communist expansion. The fear has vaporized after the end of the Cold War. Social Darwinism, the most pernicious philosophy that the West had ever produces in order to justify the rule of the strong, has resuscitated where naked principle of struggle for existence, the survival of the fittest, and the law of jungle prevail. History has seen its outburst in their colonialism, slavery, racism, fascism, and naked capitalism. A new Social Darwinism, unleashed after the demise of socialism in 1990s, is characterized by three major directions; first, the so-called restructuring of economy in major capitalist countries, second, control of energy resources, and third, global and special militarization. In each of these directions, the strong will take hold of the weak.

The trauma of the 9/11th tragedy has made it possible for the USA to wage reckless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In face of the unique superpower which even a combined forces of the rest of the world cannot defeat, smaller nations have no opinions but to obey or resist the USA. The UN which would sometimes function as a sanctuary for smaller nations has abandoned its role. The military and economic strength of the world's hegemon holds the world as its will. It is natural and understandable for leaders of smaller nations to ponder that nuclear weapons can be the military equalizer. The American logic of power helps the WMD to proliferate indeed.

For several years in mid-1990s such a prominent US politician as the former Secretary of State Robert McNamara and the retired General George Lee Butler embraced a theory of non-nuclear defense and the public opinion had it also that the US would be much safer if there were no nuclear weapons at all in the world. Their rational was the overwhelming supremacy of conventional defense capability of the US military forces. Their idea of non-nuclear defense coincided with the principle of NPT and was dramatically changed

Under the "Nuclear Posture Review" the Neo-Cons have returned to a fundamentalist nuclear strategy. There is now a progress in developing mini-nukes and a professed plan to resume underground nuclear tests which have not been conducted since 1993.

Obviously, policy makers of the US and other industrialized nations think that the stronger their military power, the more effective they can control developing nations where political, economical, and social discrepancies demand a radical and fundamental transformation. Globalization in terms of market economy, monetary transactions, communication, and trade advanced by the US does not improve the situation in developing nations, but rather aggravates it.

Unless the unjust global system of economy and trade is squarely addressed and fundamentally revamped, globalization would only accelerate an escalation of conflicts between the "haves" and "have-nots". It is unfortunate that political leaders of the elite nations cannot share the view due to their myopic perspective and understanding of "national interest".

To put it differently, peace and security of developed nations can be achieved only if root causes of conflict between the "haves" and the "have-nots" are properly dealt with and radically "minimized" if not completely eradicated. "Liddism", which means attempts to keep the lid on problems "without addressing the core reasons for dissent", will not work and eventually lead the world onto an eruption of "global intifada". Attempts to solve conflicts by enhanced military power failed in Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, and especially in Palestine.

Demoralizing situations persist in developing countries where frustrated young people see themselves as marginalized and with diminishing prospects. They are like a pile of explosives. In the past it was considered to be a ripe socio-economic situation for a violent political revolution. However, neither "successful revolution" nor political independence in many parts of the world in the last century produced what had been promised. People realized that something was wrong with the international system in which political experiments were not allowed even for ten years or so to male socio-economic progress for a successful revolution. Instead, they were always interfered, sanctioned, "contained", suppressed and fatally damaged by major capitalist states for their vested interest. The tragedy of the late President Allende of Chile 30 years ago whom General Pinochet murdered with the help of CIA should be sufficient to illustrate the issue in point. The coup, incidentally, took place also on September 11th.

One of the questions posed here is who can break the vicious circle of war, terrorism, and "peacelessness" which has been aggravated by the run-away Leviathan, the USA. It can neither be the American government nor the Japanese as both are trapped in a narrow nationalism: in the US a jingoistic nationalism stemming from the trauma of 9/11th and in Japan a similarly narrow nationalism stemming from abduction of many Japanese citizens by the North Korean agents.

In the world today, there are two paradigms which reflect military, political, and socio-economic situations. The one is the "liddism" mentioned above which tries to put the lid on insecurity and hold an unjust and unstable status quo under control by "violent but legal" means, in anticipation of creating "a violent peace" as it were. The other is an attempt to create a new and just world order in which all efforts are concentrated on solving root causes of unrest, namely, war, terrorism, and "peacelessness" without using violent means, namely, "peace by peaceful means".

It can be done only through a solidarity movement of the world citizens not excluding many enlightened American citizens. An ancient Greek philosopher said, "It is not carpenter but the residents who can tell if the house is good or bad". Therefore, we are standing at a critical crossroads of bringing the world into a peaceful and harmonious community of the global citizens or an incessant occurrence of violence and endless war.

Such an effort should not be dismissed as idealism as there are very many signs of alternative social movements.

"Indeed, one of the more hopeful features of the post-11 September analysis, understandably much more outside of the United Stated, was concern to address root causes of political violence instead of concentrating on control of the symptoms. In the final analysis, it is a matter of choice, and the next decade is likely to prove pivotal in determining the degree of international instability that could prevail for much of the new century. The early effects of 11 September suggest a hardening of the role paradigm, but there is every chance that it may become possible to further analysis and demonstrate the futility of that approach. The responsibility for those in a position to do so, whether activists, academics, politicians or many others, is considerable."

Corporate globalization - its militarization: Possible responses of a united people
Author: Admiral Vishnu Bagwig, Former Chief of Naval Staff (India)
Corporate globalization - its militarization: Possible responses of a united people
Author: Secretariat, APRN

The process of corporate globalization has been both economically and politically aggressive to the rights of citizens, especially in developing countries. Monopolizing decision making in the WTO, developed countries that are hosts to headquarters of TNCs compel developing countries to liberalize and deregulate national trade and investment policies to allow global corporations unrestricted access and exploitation of human and natural resources in these countries. The impacts of this process have been oppressive to the peoples of developing countries, particularly in the Asia-Pacific and Africa-Arab regions.

The Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) has been destroying not only the livelihood of marginal and self-subsistent rural population but also taking their resource bases that are necessary for them to achieve food security and sovereignty. The General Agreements on Trade in Services (GATS) has been depriving people not only of access to basic social services but also job security and opportunity. These and other WTO rules and agreements, in effect, exclude peoples and communities from the benefits in the corporative development process.

Faced with a groundswell of protests and resistance from social movements that challenge WTO and globalization in developing countries and throughout the continents, national and global elite tend more and more in employing coercive mechanism to push the globalization process against the backdrop of massive opposition. Since 9/11, this trend heightens and dominates the global and national socio-political affairs.

Riding on the 9/11 tragedy, the US-led war on terror took an aggressive position in global politics. Its war in Afghanistan and in Iraq have radically changed the political context of the world, including the WTO. The war has made it relatively easier to pressure as well as entice countries to toe the line of the G8, especially the US and EU, in WTO negotiations. Since 9/11, the people's resistance to further liberalization and G8 positions is easily attacked as being terrorist or pro-terrorist.

APRN sees the "global war on terror" that reinforces state repression in many developing countries as collateral expansion of the threat and destruction WTO and globalization impose upon the people and the social movements. Peoples and social movements need to understand and articulate the collaborative agenda of corporate globalization and the global war on terror to comprehensively address current social problems and chart lasting alternative strategies towards global justice, peace, and development. Also, for social movements how to proceed with advocacy in this context.

Thus, the Asia-Pacific Research Network 5th Annual Conference on "War and Terror: People's Rights and the Militarization of Globalization".

The APRN is a network of leading research NGOs in the region with the main objective of exchanging information on international issues, as well as experiences, technologies, and methods in research. At present, the APRN has 32 member organizations from 16 countries.

The conference will be held for three days in Beirut, Lebanon hosted by the Arab NGO Network for Development based in Beirut. It expects to gather about a hundred participants from the NGOs, people's organizations, academe, and other sectors. Registration fee is US$300 which covers meals and accommodation from September 1-3.

For further information, contact the APRN Secretariat via secretariat@aprnet.org

To fill-up online registration form, click here

To view proposed program, click here
Tentative Program
Author: Secretariat, APRN
Tentative Program
People's Convention on Natural Resources
People's Convention on Natural Resources
23-25 October 2007
Bangkok, Thailand
SAVE THE DATES! Asia Pacific Stakeholders' Dialogue on the European Development Cooperation | October 3 to 5, 2013 | Bali, Indonesia
Author: Administrator

Asia Regional Synthesis Workshop on CSO Development Effectiveness
Author: Administrator

Dec 3-4, 2010

After a year of eliciting various CSOs' views and experiences in sixteen countries, Asia is now concluding its country consultation series and to move on to promoting the globally agreed upon Istanbul Principles of CSO development effectiveness and the minimum standards for an enabling environment required for the successful implementation of these. Read more..

Conference Report: People and Planet over Profits: Conference on People's Sovereignty on Natural Resources
Author: APRN Secretariat
Conference Report: People and Planet over Profits: Conference on People's Sovereignty on Natural Resources
Invitation to the Natural Resources Conference
Author: APRN General Secretary

Dear Friends,

Warm greetings from the Asia Pacific Research Network!

We are pleased to invite you to the APRN Conference on People's Sovereignty on Natural Resources which will be held in Bangkok, Thailand on October 23-25, 2007.

The Conference on People's Sovereignty on Natural Resources is an open and public gathering of grassroots movements, academe, and civil society organizations involved in natural resources issues.  This means that aside from APRN members, we expect peasant and fisherfolk organizations, indigenous peoples, women, workers, and other sectors to participate.

The Conference aims to bring together those sectors most affected by natural resource degradation, develop a common platform promoting the primacy of people and planet over profit and develop the strategy of people's sovereignty in the framework of stewardship over natural resources.

Specifically, its objectives shall be to:

  • Achieve a common understanding of the issue of natural resources overexploitation in the context of corporate globalization in its different areas, contexts and forms;
  • Develop researches into various aspects of the issue of natural resources and promote coordination on research and information sharing in these aspects;
  • Bring different stakeholders on the issue of natural resources into a common discussion to build a policy advocacy platform based on the principle of people and planet over profit to stop overexploitation by corporations promoted by policies of corporate globalization; and
  • Explore possible international alternative people-powered mechanisms for protecting the environment in the framework of sustainable utilization of natural resources for the benefit of the community.

The APRN Secretariat and the local organizing committee from the Thai NGO-COD and the Sustainable Development Foundation are working to bring in around 200 participants from the Asia-Pacific and other global regions.

Attached you will find a brief background to the Conference, a preliminary agenda and registration form. Kindly confirm your participation by sending in the attached Conference registration form August 15th.  

Looking forward to your earliest response,

Maria Theresa Nera-Lauron
General Secretary
Asia-Pacific Research Network

Brief introduction to Field Visit Target sites
Author: APRN Secretariat

There are 6 sites where people can choose, each can accommodate 24 people only.

  1. Khon Sarn District, Chaiyapoom Province (Travel time apprx 3 hours one way)
    1. Small-scale irrigation in Sern Watershed in None Wang Prai Village (sub-district Kong Bang): This is a community's traditional knowledge on water resources. The local community have been trying to develop community own water management system as alternatives to those introduced by the government.

    2. Betel nut and leaves Orchard in Huai Lang Village (Thung Na Lao sub-district): This is a small orchard that is a common practice and has been passed on from many generations. The practices of Plu orchard has promoted and strengthened community's bonds and close relationship. It is also a household base agriculture system. The production of  ¢â‚¬ËœPlu' has also been developed as a source of income at the domestic and community level.

    3. Kon Sai's Forest orchard in Thung Pra Village and Suan Par Village (Thung Pra sub-district): This is a land conflict related case between community and Forest Industrial Commission (locally known as Aor Aor Por as abbreviation). The participants can learn about community's struggle and advocacy in trying to address the conflicts, which also includes their self mobilization in the name of The Network of Community for the Conservation of Sern Watershed'

  2. In this area the participants are invited to study and learn about community's based natural resource management in the following areas

  3. Watershed Management in Sri Charoen Village, Loei Wangsai Sub-district, Loei Province (Traveling time apprx 1 hour, one way)
    1. Concrete natural resource management at the household level, particularly in trying to preserve local biodiversity in their farming land. With this, the community has adopted a  ¢â‚¬Ëœsaving' strategy from the smallest production system in the society. For instance, soil saving, which refers promoting kitchen gardening to reduce household expenses and promoting organic production and stop using chemicals, energy saving whereby community set up their own small-scale energy production units such as water pump, and use other renewable energy, water saving whereby the community dig their own waterway at household level by using traditional knowledge, livestock saving is when the community raise cattle and use cow dong for organic soil, and also promotion of community saving group.

    2. Concrete models of community-based natural resources and see how these have helped strengthening community and their local traditions. The community has announced that they must be equipped with an  ¢â‚¬ËœIntellectual Weapons' whereby varieties of alternatives are adopted. They have been trying to prove to the society and the government that  ¢â‚¬Ëœthe poor can live with natural resource and have capacity to manage it'

  4. The participants are invited to learn about community's experiences in trying to ensure self-reliance livelihoods amid the changing production mode. They have created several concrete alternative livelihoods, while ensuring that their traditions and customs are conserved and practices. These are

  5. Phu Sam Bok & Phu Nok Kee Tee Community's based Environmental Center in Tha Chang Klong Sub-district, Pa Kao District, Loei Province. (Traveling time apprx 1 hour, one way)

    The participants are invited to learn about community's self-reliance practices. They have developed their indigenous knowledge and apply it to their natural resource conservation and management. Their practices place a strong emphasis on involvement of all groups in the community namely youth, elders and women. In this site, the participants will be taken on a tour and visit community's natural study tour where you will learn about Northeast ecology and community's practices in applying their knowledge on natural resource conservation and management

  6. Self Reliance agricultural and forest dependent community of Sam Pak Nam Village, Na Nong Thum sub-district, Chum Pae District, Khon Khen Province (Travel time apprx 3 hours one way)

    The participants will explore and learn about the struggle of community who had been once evicted out their land by the government and upon their return, they found that their lands have been declared as a national park. The community persisted to remain and at the same time, has developed many natural resource management models, particularly land distribution among community members, with clear rules and guideline. They have also adopted sustainable agriculture practices and community forest conservation that ensure food security and rehabilitation of forest condition. This is one of a role model community where the participants can learn about community's rights to access rights and forest resources.

  7. Impacts of Government's Industrial Development: The case of Potash Mining in None Somboon Village, Udorn Thani Province (Travel time apprx 3.5 hour one way)

    The community of Non Somboon has been heavily impacted by large-scale government project with collaboration with politician to establish potash mining in the area. The target site covers 654,145 Rai (approximately 104,663 hectares), which covers mostly the village. The mining has resulted in many negative impacts for instance, land slide and contamination of soil that is essential for community's farming. The participants will have a direct sharing with the affected community about overview of government's policy, the characteristic of the potash mining project and the local implications on community's ecology and livelihoods. Most importantly, they will also learn about community's experiences in trying to fight for their rights and the protection of their homes and natural resources through legal means and mass mobilization. This is a national conflict case where the whole of Northeast community and NGOs participate in the struggle.

  8. Phu Kao Community Forest in Kok Pak Wan Village, Pa Kao District, Loei Province (Traveling time apprx 1 hour, one way)
  9. In this village, the community has also accumulated a lot of experience in trying to protect their forest resources. They began from zero, whereby the forest degradation was very severe as a result of over competition on resource utilization conducted by people from within and outside the community. After a mass forest forest fire occurred, the community took a new turn and committed to revive the forest through many activities such as reforestation and apply strict forest management regulation.

Invitation to participate
Author: APRN Secretariat

People's Convention on Natural Resources
November 22 to 25, 2006 in Loei, Thailand

Convened by the Asia-Pacific Research Network (APRN) in partnership with:

NGO-Coordinating Committee on Development (NGO-COD)
NGO- Coordinating Committee on Development (Northeast)
Sustainable Development Foundation (SDF)
Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
Loei Rajabhat University
Loei Fund for Nature Conservation & Sustainable Development Foundation

Over the last two decades, the world is witness to the rapid depletion and degradation of the environment. This affects the world's poor the most as they face a host of problems that seriously impact on their lives and livelihoods. Peasants, workers, fisherfolks, and indigenous peoples bear the ill-effects of the intensification of resource extraction that come with the promotion of corporate-led globalization.

Grassroots organizations and social movements were instrumental in raising public awareness and involvement on environmental issues, and have had notable victories in thwarting TNC inroads and asserting public control over the world's resources. This, however, is threatened by the aggressive attempts of corporations to regain the momentum and further their liberalization and privatization agenda.

We invite you to come together to learn and promote new initiatives in exercising people's sovereignty in natural resources issues.

People and Planet First!


The People's Convention will be held at the Loei Rajabhat University in Loei, Thailand. Around 600 people are expected to participate in the People's Convention.

Situated on the Korat Plateau, the Province of Loei is characterized with high mountains, mountainous plains and basin plains. Known as the "town of the ocean of mountains", Loei is considered the coldest province of Siam, and is accessible both by land and air travel from Bangkok.


Morning Plenary Sessions. There will be plenary sessions in the mornings to cover the three main themes of the People's Convention: Land and Genetic Resources, Mining and Forestry, and Freshwater and Marine Resources. These plenary sessions will involve panel presentation on overarching issues, as well as testimonies of people's struggles from international speakers.

Afternoon Workshops and Meetings. Organizations and movements are encouraged to conduct seminars, workshops or strategy meetings in the afternoons. The People's Convention has provisions for venues and audio-visual system within the university to accommodate 30 to 200 participants, interpretation services (Thai-English) and help in information dissemination and publicity.

Speak Out. To start the morning sessions, there will be a Speak Out on the themes, which will involve a creative and running presentation of the highlights and resolutions of workshops and or strategy meetings held the day before. Evening Cultural Events. The People's Convention will have nightly cultural events sponsored by the different host organizations. Participating organizations may also register and organize other cultural activities.

People's March. There will be a People's March/Parade in the afternoon of November 24th. This will be participated in by approximately 1,000 persons and will include the locals of Loei.

Special Events. Local and international organizations are invited to set up exhibits at the People's Convention site. There will be an exhibition of food and other products from the communities and other provinces of Thailand. Other organizations will also feature traditional Thai massage, herbal medicine, and more.

Pre-Convention Study Tour. The People's Convention organizers have arranged for study tours of selected communities in Northeast Thailand. Delegates are invited to visit communities to interact with mining, forest, fishing, and other communities. Those interested will have to indicate their preferred exposure site when they fill out the registration form. Study tours will be on November 21st, as such, delegates are advised to arrive on the 20th.


The People's Convention will provide official invitation letters to those who may require one. Kindly fill out the Registration Form and send it to the Secretariat well ahead of time.


There are a number of ways to get to Loei, Thailand. From Bangkok, delegates to the People's Convention may take any of the following options:

  • By Air:

    Daily air services by Thai Airways are available from Bangkok to Udon Thani and Khon Kaen. From there, tourists are conveniently able to take local buses to Loei.

  • By Train: Accessible by three routes from Bangkok:

    1. Get off the train at the Udon Thani Railway Station. Take local bus to Loei.
    2. Get off the train at the Khon Kaen Railway Station. Take local bus to Loei.
    3. Get off the train at the Nongkhai Railway Station. Take local bus to Loei.
  • By Bus:

    Daily bus services are available from the Northeastern Bus Terminal (Moh Chid 2). The journey takes approximately 10 hours from Bangkok.

There will be a separate announcement for transportation to Loei from Bangkok Airport. The Organizers are trying to arrange for private vans to take the delegates to the Convention site. It is important that precise arrival and departure schedules are sent to the Secretariat.

The People's Convention organizers have arranged for modest shared accommodations at local hotels and resorts around the area. Delegates who prefer to have single room accommodations are advised to communicate with the Secretariat for separate arrangements.

There will be food booths at the People's Convention site. Organizers will ensure that meal costs will be very affordable. Delegates should have a budget of about US$ 12 - 15 a day for food.


Participating organizations and individuals

Please fill out the registration form and submit to secretariat@aprnet.org. You will receive a confirmation of your registration via email.

Registration of activities

Please fill out the registration form and send to secretariat@aprnet.org. We will contact you for confirmation, final schedule and room assignments via email.

For more information, you may get in touch with secretariat@aprnet.org.

Program of Activities
Author: APRN Secretariat

People's Convention on Natural Resources
November 22-25,2006
Loei, Thailand

Monday, November 20, 2006 Arrival for Study Tour
Tuesday, November 21, 2006 Study Tours
Arrival of other pax
Wednesday, November 22, 2006  
  9:00- 9:30 a.m Opening Ceremonies
  9:30- 10:00 a.m Welcome Remarks
  10:00-12:00 noon First Panel

Introduction to the Conference

Ecological Agriculture
Indigenous Peoples
Forest Convervation

  12:00 - 1:30 p.m. Lunch Break
  1:30 -3:30 p.m. Second Panel

The Political Economy of Natural Resources

  • Corporate exploitation
  • Globalization of Natural Resources
  • Instruments in support of corporate exploitation)
    • Bankrolling Climate Change:
    • Neoliberal Trade Agreements
    • Coal, Climate change & AP minerals boom
  3:30 -4:00 p.m. Open Forum
  4:00 - 6:00 p.m. Exhibitions, Food Fest, etc.
  5:00 - 7:00 p.m. APRN General Council Meeting
  7:00 - 9:00 p.m. Cultural Night
Thursday, November 24,2006  
  9:00- 10:00 a.m. Third Panel

Land and Genetic Resources

On Land Conservation

Keynote: overarching issues
Presentation of problem through case studies & people's struggles

  10:00- 10:15 a.m. Coffee/Tea Break
  10:15- 11:15 a.m. On Genetic Resources

Keynote: overarching issues
Presentation of problem through case studies & people's struggles

Role of international & national policies and institutions

  11:15 - 11:45 a.m. Open Forum
  11:45 - 1:00 p.m. Lunch Break
  1:00 - 3:00 p.m. Workshops

Set A - Mandatory Workshops

  1. MEAs
  2. Neoliberal policies
  3. Women
  4. Indigenous Peoples
  5. FTA
  6. Globalization & Thai Nat Res
  7. Energy & environment
  8. People's sov & community rights

Set B -Land and Genetic Workshops

  1. Pesticide poisoning & land conservation
  2. Agro ecological systems
  3. GE & people's struggles
  4. GMOs
  5. TRIPs, Biopatenting, biopiracy
  6. Poverty & Nat Res Mgt. in Thailand
  7. Land reform & Land conservation
  3:00 - 3:15 p.m. Coffee/Tea Break
  4:00 - 6:00 p.m. People's March/Parade
  7:00 - 9:00 p.m. Cultural Night
Friday, November 24,2006  
  9:00 - 10:00 a.m. Speak Out on Land & Genetic Resources
  10:00-11:00 a.m. Fourth Panel

On Mining

Presentation of problem through case studies & people's struggles

  11:00-12:00 p.m. On Forestry

Presentation of problem through case studies & people's struggles

Role of international and national policies and institutions

  12:00 - 1:30 p.m. Lunch Break
  1:30 - 3:30 p.m. Fifth Panel


On Freshwater Resources

Presentation of problem through case studies & people's struggles

On Marine Resources

Presentation of problem through case studies & people's struggles

Role of international & national policies & institutions

  3:30 - 3:45 p.m. Coffee/Tea Break
  3:45- 6:00 p.m. Workshops

Set C - Mandatory workshops

  1. Globalization of mining & speculative financing
  2. Campaign on fossil fuels
  3. Campaign for clean energy pathways
  4. Mining public policy in Thailand
  5. Successful struggles vs. mining

Set D - Minerals & Forestry

  1. Community forest mgt.
  2. Forest fires, etc.
  3. Globalization of forestry & wood industry
  4. FTA & mineral & forestry trade
  7:00 - 9: 00 p.m. Cultural Night
Saturday, November 25, 2006  
  9:00 - 10:00 a.m. Speak Out on Mining & Forestry
  10:00 - 12:00 noon Workshops

Set E - Mandatory workshops

  1. Dams
  2. Right to Water
  3. Struggles vs. privatization of water services
  4. Water for food- globalization & struggles of farmers
  5. IWRM and globalizaiton

Set F - Freshwater & Marine

  1. Privatization of the sea
  2. Aquaculture & globalization
  3. Conflict, tsunami, etc.
  4. FTA and fisheries
  12:00 - 1:30 p.m. Lunch Break
  1:30 - 2:30 p.m. Speak Out on Freshwater & Marine Resources
  2:30 - 3:00 p.m. Creative Affirmation of Determination to Assert & Struggle
  3:00 - 4:00 p.m. Synthesis Panel
    People's Manifesto or Agenda
Convention Statement/Declaration
  4:00 - 4:30 p.m. Closing Ceremonies
Author: APRN Secretariat

People's Convention on Natural Resources
November 22-25, 2006
Loei, Thailand  

People and Planet First!
Asserting people's sovereignty over natural resources

Land and Genetic Resources
Forestry and Mineral Resources
Freshwater and Marine Resources

Organized by Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN)

in partnership with:
Sustainable Development Foundation (SDF)
Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development (APWLD)
Thai NGO Coordinating Committee on Development (Thai NGO-COD)
Loei Rajabhat University

What is the People's Convention on Natural Resources?

In the last two decades, corporate-led globalization has accelerated the reckless consumption of resources that is threatening the earth and its people.

Overexploitation of the earth's natural resources greatly impacts on the poor who suffer the most from resource depletion and environmental degradation.

Although public awareness on environmental issues has increased tremendously, the process towards conservation of natural resources and reduction of environmental degradation has been slow. Globalization and the promotion of TNCs has actually resulted in the intensification of natural resource extraction industries such as mining, logging, intensive aquaculture and the like.

Efforts by grassroots organizations and social movements to address urgent issues related to corporate overexploitation of natural resources have been very successful in preventing inroads by TNCs and in asserting public control.

People's initiatives to assert their collective right to self-determination under the slogan of people's sovereignty have put a stop to the neoliberal Mining Act of 1995 in the Philippines, and have led to the success of the indigenous peoples of Bolivia in the Cochabamba water issue.

There is now a need to assess, learn and promote new initiatives in exercising people's sovereignty in natural resources issues.

The People's Convention covers three main themes: land and genetic resources, freshwater and marine resources, and forests and mineral resources. The People's Convention shall seek to come up with a manifesto or People's Agenda that embodies the people's concerns and aspirations on the natural resources and environment issues.

What are the objectives of the People's Convention?

  1. Achieve a common understanding of the issue of natural resources overexploitation in the context of corporate globalization in its different areas, contexts and forms;
  2. Develop researches into various aspects of the issue of natural resources and promote coordination on research and information sharing in these aspects;
  3. Bring different stakeholders into a common discussion to build a policy advocacy platform based on the principle of people and planet over profit to stop overexploitation by corporations promoted by policies of neoliberal globalization; and
  4. Explore possible international alternative people-powered mechanisms for protecting the environment in the framework of sustainable utilization of natural resources for the benefit of the community.

Who will be involved?

The People's Convention is organized by APRN in partnership with APRN members in Thailand & Thai NGO Coordinating Committee on Development, Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, Sustainable Development Foundation, and the coalition of Northeast organizations and movements of Thailand. The faculty, staff and students of Loei Rajabhat University will also be involved in organizing and hosting the event.

About 600 peasants, workers, fisherfolk, women, environmentalists, indigenous peoples and NGO participants from Asia Pacific and from other global regions are expected to attend the People's Convention on Natural Resources.

About APRN

The Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN) was established in 1998 to develop cooperation among alternative research centers, NGOs, and social movements in the Asia-Pacific region and raise capacity in advocacy and education, particularly in the conduct of research, education, information and advocacy related activities.

The APRN has helped bring into focus pertinent issues that affect the Region, addressing issues on trade, debt, financing for development, peace and security, gender, food and agriculture, migration, labor, TNCs, regional cooperation, and human rights, among others. The APRN sees these issues both as a challenge and an opportunity for research and in raising the level of social awareness, advocacy and growth of social movements across the Region.

CURRENTLY APRN has a membership of 38 international, regional, and national coalitions and organizations coming from or based in 17 countries.


For more details, please get in touch with:

APRN Secretariat
2nd Floor, IBON Center
114 Timog Avenue, Quezon City, Philippines
Telephone (632) 9277060-92 local 202
Fax (632) 425-1387

Concept Paper
Author: APRN Secretariat

Background and Context

The world's natural ecosystem is under stress and its vast resources increasingly being depleted and degraded. Polluted waters, eroded soils, and deforested mountains are evident across the globe. Human activities and consumption have put the environment in peril.

Farming methods have degraded soils, dried up aquifers, polluted waters, and caused the extinction of animal and plant species. Soil degradation, including nutrient depletion and salinization, is widespread, while water sources are being polluted by excessive fertilizer and pesticide use. The use of high yielding varieties of crops, which require extensive irrigation, is draining more water than is being replenished by rainfall. About 70% of freshwater used by humans every year goes to agriculture.

Only some 20% of the earth's original forest remains undisturbed. Forests are the habitat of 50 to 90% of the world's plants and animals on land, which have mainly provided the food and other basics that humans need to survive. Unfortunately, 76 countries have already lost all of their frontier forest. Another 11 nations are about to lose their last remaining frontier forests, having fewer than 5% of these forests left, all of which are in danger.

Overall, 39% of the world's remaining frontier forests are endangered, with logging posing the greatest menace. Global wood consumption has increased 64% since the early 1960s. Old growth and secondary growth forests provide 78% of all lumber, pulp, and other industrial wood. Mining activities, which entail large-scale cutting of trees in mineral-rich upland areas, also contribute to deforestation.

Meanwhile, coral reefs around the world have been damaged directly through harmful practices such as coral mining, trawling, and indiscriminate coastal development. There are also various indirect sources of devastation, such as sediment from inland deforestation, mine tailings washing out to sea, destruction of mangroves, industrial pollution and nutrient pollution contributed by sewage, fertilizers, and urban runoff.

At a global scale, some 58% of the world's coral reefs are endangered, with about 27% of reefs at high risk. Southeast Asia's coral reefs, which are the most species-diverse in the world, are also the most threatened, with more than 80% at risk. Overexploitation of reef resources greatly affects marine biodiversity as well as fish harvest potentials.

Freshwater systems occupy only 0.8% of the earth's surface. Humans and many animal species depend on freshwater for survival. Freshwater systems are also vital as habitat for a wealth of species. But threats to freshwater resources, such as physical alteration from dams and canals, pollution, overharvesting of fish and shellfish, etc., have increased in scope and impact in the last century.

In the last two decades, corporate-led globalization has accelerated this reckless consumption of resources that is threatening the earth and its people. Though it is true that consumption has increased worldwide, there is a huge gap in consumption levels between developed and underdeveloped countries. Rich countries accounted for 80% of total private consumption of goods and services, while poor nations accounted for less than two percent.


Much of the world's remaining resources can be found in Asia, Africa and Latin America, where, ironically, majority of the world's poor live. These regions are thus the targets of corporations for natural resources extraction to keep industries going.

The impact of overexploitation of the earth's natural resources is greatest on the poor and marginalized peasants, workers, fisherfolk, and indigenous communities suffer the most from resource depletion and environmental degradation.

Peasants face a host of problems due to corporate-controlled agricultural systems that put in place unsustainable farming methods dependent on environmentally harmful chemicals. Workers in extractive industries such as mining are the first to endure pollutive methods that pose health and ecological hazards. Fishing communities contend with dwindling catch due to destruction of coral reefs and overfishing by big commercial fishers. Deforestation caused by logging and operations of mining corporations are destroying ancestral domains of indigenous peoples.

But these sectors that are affected by overexploitation of natural resources and environmental damage and advocates of environmental preservation still have to strengthen coordination among them and consolidate efforts in addressing these issues. As stakeholders in the earth's future, the people, especially the sectors mentioned, should proactively move to stop unbridled resource extraction and environmentally harmful practices promoted by globalization.

Besides the need to consolidate the efforts of various sectors and interest groups among the people into a synergy of people's power, gaining greater legitimacy by a broader democratic representation that includes sectors seen to be benefiting exploitation of natural resources such as certain labor sectors and small enterprises, there is also a need to further develop the handling of issues to address the question of overall people's economic rights and interests and benefit. In the context of globalization, the more aggressive opening of natural resources for corporate exploitation takes this issue into a collision course between the peoples democratic interests and welfare and corporate interests supported by government and multilateral institutions.

The developments in Bolivia in relation to water and to the country's oil and gas resources and the struggle of the indigenous people who comprise the majority of the population leading to the collapse of globalist governments and the emergence of a progressive Bolivarian regime of Evo Morales puts focus into this issue of great interest for many social and environmentalist movements around the world. The lessons and implications of this victory serves as an important point of discussion for a gathering of various movements around Asia and the rest of the world.

Conference objectives and content

The People's Convention on Natural Resources aims to bring together those sectors most affected by natural resource degradation, develop a common platform promoting the primacy of people and planet over profit and develop the strategy of people's sovereignty in the framework of stewardship over natural resources.

Specifically, its objectives shall be to:

  1. Achieve a common understanding of the issue of natural resources overexploitation in the context of corporate globalization in its different areas, contexts and forms;
  1. Develop researches into various aspects of the issue of natural resources and promote coordination on research and information sharing in these aspects;
  1. Bring different stakeholders on the issue of natural resources into a common discussion to build a policy advocacy platform based on the principle of people and planet over profit to stop overexploitation by corporations promoted by policies of corporate globalization; and
  1. Explore possible international alternative people-powered mechanisms for protecting the environment in the framework of sustainable utilization of natural resources for the benefit of the community.

Proposed Program

Pre-conference (optional 1-2 days): Exposure trips to Thai communities

Day 1 Theme: Opening and General Issue Discussions



Resource Person or

9:00 & 10:00 a.m.



10:00 & 11:00 a.m.



11:00-12:00 noon

Welcome Remarks and Opening Ceremonies



First Panel

  • Introduction of Theme, Framework & Context of the Conference
  • Testimonies


Second Panel:
ThePolitical Economy of Natural Resources

  • Corporate exploitation of Natural Resources
  • Neoliberalism, globalization of Natural Resources
  • Instruments for support of corporate exploitation of Natural Resources (IFI,WTO,FTA, ECA and Banks)

Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission of Thailand

African Nobel Prize winner

Tony Tujan

Representatives from Thailand, the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Pacific

Meena Raman (FOE)
Pablo Solon (Fundacion Solon), Rangsan

12:00 & 1:30 p.m.



1:30 & 2:30 p.m.



2:30 & 3:30 p.m.




3:30 & 4:00 p.m.

4:00 - onwards

Third Panel:

On Land

  • Presentation of problem through case studies and people's experience s in struggle

On Genetic Resources

  • Presentation of problem through case studies and people's experiences in struggle

  • Role of international and national policies and institutions

Break for Snacks

Workshop Axes and Key Individual Workshops



Rafael Mariano, LRN, Atul Anian


Farida or (SANFEC), Shahid Zia, Sarojeni Rengam, Thai HIV group

Pat Mooney, Neth Dano, Kamla Bhasin

Day 2 Theme: Minerals and Forestry



Resource Person or Facilitator

9:00&10:00 a.m.






Speak Out on Land and Genetic Resources
(creative presentation of workshop reports besides submitted report)


Panel Presentation:

On Mining

  • Presentation of problem through case studies and people's struggles

On Forestry

  • Presentation of Problem through case studies and people's struggles
  • Role of international and national policies/institutions




Newmont Bougainville
Udon Thani

CAP, ERA, AMAN (Indonesia IP Alliance), Vijay, Philippines

FOEI (Ronnie Hall), Sonny Africa (IBON)

12:30&2:00 p.m.



2:00- 6:00 p.m.

  • Workshop Axes and Key Individual Workshops


Solidarity and Cultural Night


Day 3 Theme: Freshwater and Marine Resources



Resource Person or Facilitator

9:00&10:00 a.m.


10:00-11:00 a.m.



11:00-12:30 p.m.

Speak Out on Mining and Forestry

Panel Presentation:

On Freshwater Resources

  • Presentation of Problem through case studies and people's struggles
  • Role of international and national policies/institutions

On Marine Resources

  • Presentation of Problem through case studies and people's struggles
  • Role of international and national policies/institutions



TERRA, Arnold Padilla (Water for the People Network), Ujjaini Halim, RWESA

Pablo Solon

Maori, Fisherfolk Federation, Gita NAFSO, Samoa

Chandrika ICSF

12:30 & 2:00 pm



2:00 - 6:00 p.m.

Workshop Axes and Key Individual Workshops


7:00-9:00 p.m.

Public Presentations


Day 4 Theme: Planning, Synthesis and Closing Activities



Resource Person or Facilitator

9:00-10:00 a.m.

10:00-10:30 a.m.






Speak Out on Freshwater and Marine Resources

Creative Affirmation of Determination to Assert and Struggle

Synthesis Panel
(Speakers draw together conclusions of past streams/days)

  • Approve a pre-distributed and discussed draft for a People's Manifesto/Agenda (different workshops can look at draft for proposals towards finalization and approval)
  • Convention Statement or Declaration

Closing Ceremonies




Ravadee Praasertcharoensuk, Irene Fernandez

Proposed Workshop Axes (running themes):

  • FTA- Bits- Regionals & c/o ARENA, (Thai NGO COD/FTA Watch)
  • Women & c/o APWLD-WEN Task Force, (Thai Women Action Network)
  • Indigenous Peoples & c/o SDF (AIPP-IMPECT-CPA)
  • Financing - Export Credit, IFI, Commercial Banks - AidWatch
  • Neo-liberal policies promoted through & WB-IMF, WTO, UN, Regionals (APEC), ADB, National Governments &c/o IBON, (AFTINET, IGJ)
  • Workers & AMRC-EILER
  • MEAs - FOEI
  • People's alternatives, opportunities for international advocacy and mechanisms for struggle & ROOTS, PARC, Thai Women Action Network
  • Lead groups responsible for workshop axes are to design their overall program. They are expected to develop more specific titles/topics, look into research aspects, develop papers, and select speakers. During the workshop proper, the lead organizations will also develop the proposals and submit the report.

Proposed Key Individual Workshops

  1. Land &PAN AP
    1. Land Reform and Land rights
    2. Poisoning Agricultural Land
    3. Reduction of Agricultural Land through Conversion & tourism, industry
    4. Agribusiness and corporatization/landgrabbing
  1. Genetic Resources
    1. Biopiracy
    2. Biopatenting and GMOs
    3. Corporate Strategy for Destroying Genetic Resources
  1. Forestry
    1. Climate change & deforestation, Kyoto, carbon credits
    2. Integrated industry-monoculture-paper
    3. Illegal Logging and Corruption
  1. Mining
    1. Militarization
    2. Oil and Gas
    3. Poisoning/Displacement
    4. Role of Finance and Trade in ores
  1. Freshwater
    1. Water Utilities, Services
    2. Infrastructure & dams, river control, lakes, canals
    3. Allocation of Water Resources
    4. Commodification
    5. Water scarcity
  1. Marine/Coastal
    1. Privatization of the sea
    2. Development Priorities of Coastal Resources
    3. Seabed Management and exploitation
    4. Post tsunami issues
    5. Privatization of Water Transport Infrastructure and Waterways

What are its main components?

The conference will be organized as a people's convention similar to the highly successful Dhaka People's Convention on Food Sovereignty where more than 500 participants coming mainly from peasant and other rural social movements attended.

As a people's convention, it is designed to have more decentralized activities like workshops, speak-outs and performances, seminars and the like, while maintaining centralized plenary sessions in the mornings on various themes. The plenary sessions are not organized as formal conference plenary sessions but combine speak outs, performances and panels of inputs with short speeches.

The program is designed as to cover three main themes: land and genetic resources, freshwater and marine resources, forests and mineral resources. At the minimum, the Convention seeks to come up with a People's Manifesto or Agenda as the expression of a unified platform encompassing concerns and aspirations of various sectors on the natural resources and environment issue across the global regions. The Convention will also come out with a statement that addresses immediate concerns and issues. The maximum goal is to realize the formation of a framework for working together and/or start the formation of a broad alliance or organizational platform to cover the different sectors around the regions.

The Convention shall run for 3 ½ days. Two days before the Convention, an optional exposure tour is organized for foreign participants to meet with local organizations. On the second day of the Convention proper, a public event is scheduled where the participants can interact with the local population on urgent issues on natural resources in the province. And then on the fifth day, after the convention, there is a plan to organize the first Assembly of Asian water advocates organized by the Water for the People Network-Asia.

Author: APRN Secretariat

November 22-25, 2006
Loei, Thailand

Theme: Asserting people's sovereignty over natural resources; people and planet over profits!

Organized by: Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN)

Local hosts:
Sustainable Development Foundation
Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development
Thai NGO Coordinating Committee on Development

What is the People's Convention on Natural Resources?

Over the last two decades, the world is witness to the rapid depletion and degradation of the environment. This affects the world's poor the most as they face a host of problems that seriously impact on their lives and livelihoods. Peasants, workers, fisherfolks, and indigenous peoples bear the ill-effects of the intensification of resource extraction that come with the promotion of corporate-led globalization.

Grassroots organizations and social movements were instrumental in raising public awareness and involvement on environmental issues, and have had notable victories in thwarting TNC inroads and asserting public control over the world's resources. This, however, is threatened by the aggressive attempts of corporations to regain the momentum and further their liberalization and privatization agenda.

There is now a need to assess, learn and promote new initiatives in exercising people's sovereignty in natural resources issues. More importantly, there is a need to elevate environmental action from a concern of environmentalists into a synergy of people exercising their sovereignty as the moral authority and the power from which national sovereignty emanates.

This coming together of people including stakeholders in natural resources concerns such as labor unions and community based enterprises is essential to address issues and concerns that may seem in conflict in order to develop a common platform for people's domain and national patrimony versus TNC control and exploitation on the theme of people and planet over profit.

As a People's Convention, the program is designed specifically for the participation and expression of grassroots sectors along three main themes: land and genetic resources, freshwater and marine resources, and forests and mineral resources. The People's Convention on Natural Resources aims to put forward a People's Agenda or Manifesto that will be a general presentation of the concerns and aspirations of the people on the natural resources and environment issue.

What are the aims of the People's Convention?

  • Achieve a common understanding of the issue of natural resources overexploitation in the context of corporate globalization;
  • Develop researches on various aspects of the issue of natural resources and promote coordination on research and information sharing in these aspects;
  • Bring different stakeholders among the people into a common discussion to build a policy advocacy platform based on the principle of people and planet over profit to stop overexploitation by corporations; and
  • Explore possible international alternative people-powered mechanisms for protecting the environment in the framework of sustainable utilization of natural resources for the benefit of the community.

Who will be involved?

The Convention is organized by APRN and will be hosted by the APRN members in Thailand: the Thai NGO Coordinating Committee on Development, Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, Sustainable Development Foundation, and the coalition of Northeast organizations and movements of Thailand. The Convention is open for cosponsorship and participation by international organizations within and outside Asia Pacific.

About 500 peasants, workers, fisherfolks, indigenous peoples and NGO participants from Asia Pacific and from other global regions are expected to attend the People's Convention on Natural Resources.

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Author: Administrator

CONFERENCE DECLARATION Woman Resisting Crises And War


We, 110 women and men from 16 countries and regions from Australia, Bangladesh, China and Hongkong SAR, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor Leste, Vietnam, and The Netherlands, and representing peasant, agricultural workers, church groups, Dalit women, fisherfolk, indigenous women, migrants, minorities, workers, urban poor, girls, youth, academe and support NGOs and networks met for the Women Resisting Crisis and War: A conference on the impacts and women's responses to the economic and climate crisis and war from July 19-21, 2010 in Baguio City, Philippines.


Download PDF

National Consultation of Morocco's CSOs
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National consultation about Civil Society Organizations Development Effectiveness in Morocco will take place on 29th, 30th and 31st of May 2010 in Rabat(Capital of Morocco).


Australia's experience of the bilateral trade strategies of the US and China
Author: Jemma Bailey and Dr Patricia Ranald, PIAC
The US and China share a common enthusiasm for bilateral trade negotiations, however the priorities that drive the trade strategy of the US and China differ. The US accelerated its program of bilateral negotiations following the collapse of the WTO Ministerial in Seattle in 1999 and again in Cancun in 2003. China is currently negotiating bilateral and regional free trade agreements (FTAs) with over 22 countries. This Paper will examine Australia's experiences of bilateral trade negotiations with the US and China, as well as other bilateral negotiations involving the US and China, to draw out and contrast the key features of each country's bilateral strategy. This Paper will then look at the implications of these bilateral negotiations for communities in the Asia-Pacific and the opportunities that arise from these bilateral negotiations for social movements campaigning on trade justice issues.

The US employs trade agreements as a part of its strategy to pursue and globalise a neoliberal economic model. This agenda, revealingly called the Washington consensus, includes the removal of tariff and other trade barriers, lower taxes for business and high income earners, higher taxes for consumers through goods and services taxes, cuts in government spending, privatisation and user charges for services like health and education, less regulation of corporations and deregulation of labour markets through lower minimum wages and working conditions. This model is not unique to the US, and has influenced governments across the political spectrum, including the current conservative Australian government.

The US pursues its trade agenda ruthlessly and with great flexibility, changing from the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to bilateral agreements as necessary to pursue its interests. Many developing countries are resisting the US trade agenda in the WTO, as seen at Seattle in 1999 and again in Cancun in 2003, where some developing countries, including China, regrouped through the G20 to demand a better deal on agricultural trade and to reject agreements on investment, competition policy and government procurement. Especially since the Cancun Ministerial, the US has put less emphasis on multilateralism through the WTO and is building a network of bilateral agreements. In these bilateral agreements, the US has greater bargaining power and is able to impose its neoliberal agenda more quickly than through the WTO.

It is clear that China is an enthusiastic participant in the global market economy and is actively pursuing FTAs. Some argue that China's agenda is similar to the US agenda, however others distinguish China's approach. Wang Hue, a Research Professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, notes that "neo-liberalism has become the hegemonic discourse in the China, which has deep influence on policy-making." Hue goes on to describe China's embrace of the free market as qualitatively different from the US neoliberal model and one that is more accurately termed state-directed or "authoritarian" marketisation. The key themes of China's bilateral negotiations demonstrate that its priorities in trade agreements are largely driven by national self-interest and internal demand. It is also evident from China's pattern of negotiations that China still identifies with and has common interests with developing countries in groupings like the G20. This means that China sometimes resists aspects of the US neoliberal agenda.

There are vast amounts written about the broader geo-political motivators for China and the US to pursue bilateral and regional trade agreements. Briefly, the US is the dominant global economic and military power and uses this weight to pursue a neoliberal agenda, prompting analysis of a new age of empire. China is actively pursuing bilateral and regional economic relationships with countries that provide a geo-political balance to the US. For example, China is pursuing bilateral relationships with Chile, Venezuela, Cuba and Iran, as well as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). While acknowledging that trade strategy occurs in a broader political and security context, time does not permit a detailed examination of these motivators in this Paper.

1. Key features of US bilateral strategy

US bilateral agreements with Australia, Singapore and Chile, as well as the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), all demonstrate common themes for deeper and more rapid implementation of neoliberal policies than in the WTO. The US strategy is to build a network of such agreements, which can be used as precedents to set new benchmarks in the WTO and regional fora.

Key features of these agreements are as follows:

1.1 Clauses on medicines policy that guarantee greater rights for drug companies to excusive patents and higher prices for those drug companies

In bilateral negotiations, the US pushes for changes to government policies on medicines and changes to patent law to favour the rights of patent-holders over the rights of patent-users. These changes are designed to wind back the small gains achieved on access to medicines in the WTO. In Australia's case, common medicines are 3 - 10 times cheaper in the domestic market than in the US because of bulk buying through Australia's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Community campaigning during the US-Australia FTA negotiations prevented the Australian government from agreeing to immediate dramatic changes to the PBS. But the US-Australia FTA introduces changes that health experts predict will raise drug prices over the next five years. The US-Australia FTA changed Australian intellectual property law to allow the extension of patent periods in some cases and to delay the availability of cheaper generic medicines. The US-Australia FTA gives drug companies the right to seek review of PBS decisions, which will increase the pressure for more highly priced drugs to be listed on the PBS. The US-Australia FTA also set up a joint US-Australia medicines policy committee that will operate in secret and ensure ongoing US influence on Australian medicines policy. The community campaign resulted in amendments to the implementing legislation to prevent the practice of  ¢â‚¬Ëœevergreening' by drug companies. Evergreening describes the practice of drug companies lodging bogus patent claims to delay the marketing of cheaper generic drugs after patents have expired.

1.2 Removal of government's right to regulate foreign investment

The US presses for clauses in trade agreements that remove or restrict the rights of governments to regulate foreign investment. This commonly includes the right of governments to limit foreign investment in most industries, to have any industry policy that favours local development, or to place any obligations on US firms to contribute to local development through employing or training local people, using local products or transferring technology. In Australia's case, the threshold for review of a foreign investment by the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board on national interest grounds has been lifted from $50 million to $800 million. There are some exceptions which will maintain existing limits on foreign investment for Qantas, Telstra and media ownership, but 90% of US investment will no longer be reviewed. This interference with the right of governments to regulate in the public interest mirrors the defeated agenda of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI).

1.3 No preferences for local firms in government purchasing

The US seeks to remove any preferences for local firms in government purchasing and equal access for US firms to al government purchasing contracts. In the US-Australia FTA, this covers the Australian Federal Government and all Australian states, for the US this covers the US Federal Government, but only half of the US states.

1.4 A  ¢â‚¬Ëœnegative list' structure for services and investment

The US promotes a  ¢â‚¬Ëœnegative list' structure for services and investment. A negative list means that all services and investment sectors that are not explicitly excluded from the trade agreement are included in the trade agreement. This model also freezes all regulation at current levels so that future governments cannot introduce new regulation that is deemed to be more trade restrictive. In the US-Australia FTA, community campaigning meant that health, education, public broadcasting and some welfare services were listed as reservations and therefore excluded. However, water, energy and public transport services were not explicitly excluded.

1.5 Changes to laws on food regulation and quarantine where they are seen to harm US interests

The US seeks direct input on the laws and policies of its bilateral partner on quarantine and technical standards. In the US-Australia FTA, the US pushed for changes to the regulation of labelling of genetically-engineered food and the growing of genetically-engineered crops. Community campaigning meant there was no immediate changes to Australian regulations, but the US-Australia FTA set up a joint US-Australia committee to review future policies and to ensure an ongoing US influence on Australian policies.

1.6 Removal of or limits on local content rules for audio-visual media

In the US-Australia FTA, the US sought to undermine Australian local content rules, which ensure local voices are heard on audio-visual media. Community campaigning ensured that Australian content rules for current forms of media like film and TV were retained. This guarantee was confirmed in specific amendments to the implementing legislation. However, Australian content rules are severely limited for emerging forms of audio-visual media, like pay TV and interactive media, and there can be no local content rules for new media that may develop in future.

1.7 A government-to-government disputes process

US negotiations generally mandate a disputes process that allows governments to challenge the laws and policies of other governments if those laws or policies are inconsistent with the FTA. This is in all agreements, including the US-Australia FTA.

1.8 In most cases, a separate investor-state disputes process

The US also promotes a separate investor-state disputes process. This allows corporations to challenge laws and sue governments for damages on the grounds that laws or regulations harm their investments. Community campaigning kept this out of the US-Australia FTA. This was a significant victory in the campaign, although there is a clause in the US-Australia FTA that may leave the door open for an investor-state disputes process in the future.

2. Key features of China's bilateral strategy

While most of China's bilateral agreements are still in the negotiation phase, a number of key themes can be implied from China's priorities and sensitivities in these negotiations. In the region, China has concluded a trade agreement with ASEAN and a partial trade agreement with Thailand. China is negotiating bilateral agreements with Australia and New Zealand and a regional agreement with ASEAN, Japan and South Korea. China is also conducting studies on a potential FTA with Pakistan and is poised to sign a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement with India.

Further afield, China has initiated trade discussions with the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), the Gulf Countries Council (GCC) and Iceland. In Latin America, China has formed a  ¢â‚¬Ëœstrategic partnership' with Brazil and is negotiating with Chile. Yi Xiaoshum, China's assistant Minister for Commerce, commented that negotiations with Chile will hopefully hasten more FTAs in Latin America.
Key features of these bilateral negotiations are as follows:

2.1 Securing Market Economy Status

China has made commencement of bilateral negotiations with both Australia and New Zealand contingent on Australia and New Zealand formally granting China  ¢â‚¬Ëœfull market economy status' (MES). China is not yet recognised as a full market economy in the WTO, on the basis that prices for goods in China may not reflect their real cost of production. A condition of China's membership to the WTO was that member countries would not have to recognise China as a market economy for 15 years from the date of China''s accession. As an  ¢â‚¬Ëœeconomy in transition', China's ability to defend dumping claims is weakened as the country accusing China of dumping has immediate recourse to surrogate (third country) pricing information to judge if goods have been dumped. The Australian Industry Group claims that granting MES to China would reduce the ability of industry to take action against China for the dumping of goods.

Liu Fande, a Senior Researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, predicts that recognition of MES by Australia and New Zealand will encourage further international recognition of China as a full market economy. Australia granted China MES on 20 April 2005. The Oriental Morning Post in China heralded this as the major win from negotiations with Australia: "For Australia, an FTA means  ¢â‚¬ËœChina opportunities'; for China, China finally got Australia's recognition of its market economy status which is more meaningful than an FTA." Australia's recognition of China's MES is permanent, regardless of whether the FTA is concluded.

2.2 To ensure export markets for manufactured products

China's export processing industries for manufactured goods continue to expand. This growth has traditionally been in low-wage low-cost manufacturing industries, but is steadily moving into higher-priced medium-technology products, such as televisions, washing machines and computer components. The Government has actively encouraged this growth through the establishment of Special Economic Zones with tax incentives for foreign investment. China is expected to attract even further investment in its garment and textile industries following the phase-out of restrictive quotas under the WTO's Multifibre Arrangement in January 2005.

It follows that China must secure access to export markets for these manufacturing industries. Bilateral negotiations are playing an important role in securing this access and in reducing barriers to trade in manufactured goods. For example, in China's bilateral negotiations with the GCC, Jin Ming, an expert from the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Co-operation, notes that the GCC countries are a market for Chinese manufactured goods and are also potential bases for Chinese manufactured goods to enter other Arab countries. In the Australian context, imports of Chinese manufactured goods totalled US$11.38 billion in 2004. If an FTA removes existing Australian tariffs in the textiles, clothing and automotive industry, the China-Australia FTA Feasibility Study predicts that imports from China would increase by US$572 million over the period 2006 - 2015.

2.3 Ensuring access to supplies of resources and energy

China's demand for supplies of resources and energy is rapidly increasing to meet growing demands from export industries, domestic consumption and infrastructure investments. China is now the world's largest consumer of many industrial raw materials and has displaced the US as the largest market for aluminium, copper, iron ore, platinum and other commodities. China is also the second largest consumer of energy in the world and is becoming increasingly dependant on oil. In 2004, China's net oil imports averaged 3 million barrels per day.

Accordingly, a key theme of China's bilateral negotiations is to form relationships with resource-rich countries to secure long-term supplies of resources and energy. In the Australia-China FTA, China is seeking improved access to Australia's iron ore, natural gas, unwrought aluminium and copper. Similarly, China is seeking improved access to forestry products and pulp from negotiations with New Zealand and access to oil from negotiations with the GCC and Brazil. These bilateral negotiations do not of themselves secure supply contracts for China but they reduce any trade barriers and facilitate closer relationships, which can in turn be used to secure contracts with supplying companies. For example, during President Hu Jintao's visit to Brazil in November 2004 when the  ¢â‚¬Ëœstrategic partnership' was struck, China agreed with Brazil's state-controlled oil company to finance a $1.3 billion gas pipeline between Rio de Janeiro and Bahia. In Australia's case, a number of resource deals have been struck during the period of the China-Australia FTA Feasibility Study. For example, in December 2004 the China National Offshore Oil Corporation signed an agreement to purchase equity in the Australian Northwest Shelf Natural Gas Project.

2.4 Facilitating investment in strategic areas

China's trade negotiations serve to facilitate investment in strategic areas, both investment by China within the territories of their bilateral partners and investment by bilateral partners within China. In Australia's case, two of the key outcomes of investment liberalisation identified in the China-Australia FTA Feasibility Study are to address negotiated concessions which remove existing restrictions in each country's foreign investment regime and to develop stronger protection for Australian and Chinese foreign investors.

Accordingly, bilateral negotiations facilitate continuing flows of foreign direct investment (FDI) into China. FDI into China in 2002 was 28 times higher than in 1986 and China became the largest recipient of FDI in the world in 2003. Simultaneously, China is actively encouraging Chinese enterprises to invest overseas through a series of favourable policies in finance, taxation and administrative examination. Peng Nanfeng, an official at the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, admits that the development of China's trade and export relations "will be important preconditions for China's enterprises to increase their competitive strength."

2.5 Protecting China's agriculture sector

A final key feature of China's bilateral negotiations is China's reluctance to open its own rural sector to further liberalisation. This is due to the adverse impact that trade liberalisation has had on the rural poor in China and the increasing disparity of incomes between rural incomes and their urban counterparts. It is estimated that the distribution of income between urban and rural areas may be as high as 6:1 and the Chinese State Council's Poverty Reduction Office recently announced that the number of farmers living in poverty increased by 800,000 in 2003. Similarly, a World Bank study, released in February 2005, reports that China's rural poor have suffered a "sharp 6% drop" in living standards since China's accession to the WTO. This study, based on surveys of 84,000 households, attributes this fall in living standards to a decrease in real wages because of increased agricultural imports and an increase in the prices of commodities.

In the negotiations for the China-Australia FTA, China has indicated its reluctance to further liberalise its agriculture sector. In the China-Australia FTA Joint Feasibility, China qualified its willingness to liberalise in case studies on cotton, dairy, poultry, wool, wheat, sugar and rapeseed, by stating that any agreement "could also take into account the impact of further liberalisation on the development of China's production and farmers' incomes." A modelling report on the Australia-China FTA by economists at Monash University, Nankai University and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences estimates that the China FTA would cost approximately 180,000 farming jobs in China. The Chinese government predicts a larger impact on rural communities. As explained by Cheng Guoqiang, a Researcher at the State Council of China, "the livelihoods of 3 million herdsmen will be hurt to some degree if a huge volume of Australian wool enters the Chinese market."

3. Implications for communities and social movements in the Asia-Pacific

Free trade through the lens of the neoliberal economic model has fuelled  ¢â‚¬Ëœsouth-south competition' and a downward spiral on labour rights and environmental standards. South-south competition describes the intensification of competition between developing countries to attract transnational investment and it is particularly evident in low-end manufacturing industries. This competition for investment leads to a  ¢â‚¬Ëœrace to the bottom' or downward levelling in terms of wages, labour conditions and environmental standards. Anita Chan, an academic at the Australian National University, has tracked the movement of investment by transnational corporations from Mexico to China to take advantage of the comparatively lower wages and working conditions in export processing industries. A similar relocation of investment has occurred within the Asia-Pacific.

China's role in this race to the bottom has been labelled as "defining the bottom" in terms of labour and environmental standards. In export processing industries in China, transnational corporations sub-contract orders to factories and accept the lowest bid. Workers in those factories must work until the contract is completed, which often means working 14-16 hour days, 6-7 days a week, without proper payments for overtime. Studies show that real wages have actually fallen over the past 12 years in these export processing industries. Under China's Trade Union Law, the right to strike is not protected and workers attempting to strike can be punished or even imprisoned. China's manufacturing and mining industries are among the most dangerous in the world. Over 6000 miners died in mining accidents in 2004.

The downward pressure on wages and working conditions is maintained by a vast supply of  ¢â‚¬Ëœfloating labour' and migrant workers. Huang Ping, a Research Professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, estimates that there are 80 million rural labourers in China seeking non-agricultural opportunities in cities and towns. He adds that the traditional agricultural production needs only about 150 million full-time workers, which means that there is potentially an extra 210 million workers that could join this floating workforce. There are numerous reports that migrant workers and women are subject to discrimination in export processing zones. Chan notes that, "migrant workers are the main victims of the most serious labour-rights violations" as they provide a cheap flexible source of labour in export processing zones. Migrant workers are required to possess a  ¢â‚¬Ëœtemporary residential permit' and are not entitled to the benefits enjoyed by local residents, such as social welfare, schooling or the right to own property.

This downward pressure resonates throughout the Asia-Pacific in the lowering of wages and working conditions. For example, South Korea's protective labour laws were relaxed in 1998 to make it easier for workers to be dismissed and Malaysia and Singapore host a large number of foreign migrant workers. Flexible or casual labour is widespread in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. In Australia, this downward pressure has contributed to the environment for the conservative Howard government to introduce major changes to the industrial relations system, which will threaten working conditions, the minimum wage and the ability of workers to organise. Proposed changes include lowering minimum wages and working conditions by abolishing the role of the Industrial Relations Commission as an  ¢â‚¬Ëœindependent umpire', removing unfair dismissal protection for employees in workplaces with up to 100 employees and restricting the rights of union official to visit workplaces. The Australian election in 2004 gave the Howard government an increased majority and control of both houses of parliament, meaning that these proposals could be passed from August 2005.

4. Resistance by social movements

Social movements have arisen at local, national and international levels to challenge multilateral and bilateral trade negotiations that advance the US neoliberal economic model. These movements have had successes in exposing the secret and undemocratic nature of negotiations and the reach of trade agreements into peoples' lives and national laws and policies. In 1998, national movements formed global links to successfully resist the MAI's blatant charter for the extension of corporate power at the expense of democratic law-making. In Canada, strong community movements turned public opinion against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but political parties failed to keep pledges to oppose the agreements after being lobbied by powerful business interests. In Latin America, the spread of NAFTA has been delayed, partly because of the election of more progressive government sceptical of the neoliberal agenda in key Latin American countries.

In Australia, the campaign against the US-Australia FTA brought together diverse movements, including unions, environment groups, health groups, pensioner groups and many other community groups. There were hundreds of community meetings around the country, rallies in the major centres, thousands of letters and emails sent to politicians and two parliamentary inquiries. This grassroots debate was reflected in both community and mainstream media. A well-funded business lobby, including US-based firms such as AUSTA, campaigned for the US-Australia FTA, especially in the Murdoch-owned media. But the claimed benefits of the US-Australia FTA were contested fiercely even by mainstream economists. There were also links between unions and community groups in the US and Australia, reflected in common critical statements and lobbying of some members of the US Congress. The limited impact of the US-Australia FTA in the US meant that this campaign did not become a major focus for US social movements.

This campaign succeeded in influencing public opinion. There was a steady decline in support for the US-Australia FTA, from 65% when negotiations started to 35% in February 2004 when the deal was concluded. A survey by the Lowy Institute in February 2005 showed that support for the agreement remains at only 34%. The main opposition party, the ALP, and the minor parties all adopted policies critical of the US-Australia FTA. This was the first time the ALP had ever conceded that it might oppose a particular trade agreement and showed the influence of the community campaign. In the end, the implementing legislation was approved in parliament as a result of factional divisions in the ALP. Key figures in the ALP Right, lobbied by sectors of business who would benefit, argued that rejection of the US-Australia FTA would be seen as anti-business, anti-American and electorally damaging. The ALP Caucus endorsed the implementing legislation, with some amendments in response to very specific community concerns about the costs of medicines and Australian content rules in audio-visual media.

In China, there is an increasing debate about the neoliberal trade agenda and some Chinese NGOs and academics are vocal critics of free trade. Wang Hui, a Research Professor of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, suggests that the 1989 social movement in China was the first mobilisation against marketisation and "should be seen as part of a continuum leading up to the November - December 1999 Seattle, and the April - May 2000 Washington protests against the WTO and IMF." Targeted resistance against a neoliberal free trade agenda is building momentum in China, following its accession to the WTO in 2001. Hong Kong based activists and organisations have formed the Hong Kong Peoples' Alliance on the WTO to facilitate a regional mobilisation to coincide with the WTO Ministerial in December 2005.

Within the Chinese labour movement, there are developments to protect workers' rights and conditions in the  ¢â‚¬Ëœrace to the bottom'. There has been an increase in the scale and frequency of workers' protests documented in the Chinese press. In export processing industries in Southern China, there are reports of a labour shortage crisis as rural migrant workers respond to declining real wages and poor working conditions. Chan observes that "the rural population of China  ¢â‚¬Â¦ are engaging in a form of spontaneous collective action and initiating changes in China's macro-labour market."

The All Chinese Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), although officially aligned with the Government, has begun organising enterprise-level trade union elections in state-owned enterprises and is pressuring some transnational corporations to establish union branches in the workplace. The most publicised example of this is ACFTU's campaign targeting Wal-Mart to establish official union representatives at Wal-Mart retail outlets in China. In November 2004, Wal-Mart succumbed to ACFTU's pressure and reporting by the Chinese media and established workplace union representatives in all of Wal-Mart's Chinese stores. Wal-Mart is renowned for its anti-union practices in the US and this is the first time that Wal-Mart has made concessions to a trade union.


The bilateral negotiations pursued by the US and China have different key features and different implications for communities and social movements. This web of trade negotiations in the Asia-Pacific provides an opportunity for social movements in different countries to work together to resist unfettered neoliberalism. In the context of the China-Australia FTA, bilateral trade negotiations provide an opportunity for activists and community organisations in Australia to establish and develop links with similar groups in China. In resisting these FTAs together, we can deepen our understandings and build solidarity to resist the neoliberal trade agenda.
As the TNCs Catch You: An Analysis of the liberalization of biotechnological products in the Thai-US FTA
Author: Witoon Lianchamroon

One of the books the Thai Prime Minister suggested his cabinet members read was "As the Future Catches You" by Juan Enriquez, a Mexican writer. The book's contents relate to the fact that countries need to catch up with the development of biotechnology. Otherwise they will be alienated and left behind.

Juan Enriquez captivates the reader with fascinating data and a presentation that underlines the development of biotechnology. But for developing countries, the development of biotechnology does not mean liberalizing GM products, or recognizing and promoting patent rights on biotechnology, or liberalizing foreign investment on biotechnology, as certain decision-makers of this country believe. By giving in to such propaganda, this country may see itself caught in the claws of transnational corporations (TNCs) instead of being freed from the catch of the future, as warned by Enriquez.

The US role in multilateral negotiations As the United States is now the world's biggest producer of genetically modified (GM) products, it has made every attempt to push countries to accept GM crops and products. The TNCs that control almost the entire market for GM seeds are also located in the US.

GM crops planted between 1996 and 2002 (Unit: Million hectares)

Country 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
US 1.5 8.1 20.5 28.7 30.3 35.7 39.0
Argentina 0.1 1.4 4.3 6.7 10.0 11.8 13.5
Canada 0.1 1.3 2.8 4 3 3.2 3.5
China 1.1 1.8 * 0.3 0.5 1.5 2.1
Others <0.1 <0.1 0.1 0.1 <0.5 <0.5 <0.5

Source: Adapted from James Clive, ISAAA (1996-2002)

In May 2003, the US government officially submitted a protest letter to the World Trade Organization opposing the European Union's measures on the suspension of GM crop planting, as well as its new measures on GM labeling and traceability. This was not only meant to put pressure on the EU, but also gave a hint to developing countries that any strict regulations in relation to GM products might lead to US economic sanctions. It should be noted that imports of GM products can be suspended according to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which came into effect on 13 June 2003 when 50 member countries of the Convention on Biodiversity ratified it.

In the initial stages, the US and some developing countries such as Argentina, which got involved by opening up several million hectares of land to GM crops, voiced strong opposition to the protocol in vain. Most of the signatories used the "Precautionary Principle" to reject GM crop imports as a necessary means of protecting biological diversity and safety. In this regard, US efforts to retaliate by challenging strict measures on GM materials as violations of the WTO's Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, Sanitary & Phytosanitary Measures and Agreement on Agriculture has not been supported by most member nations of the WTO.

Since the Third Ministerial of the WTO in Seattle in July 1999, the US has urged the establishment of a Working Party on Biotechnology and pushed for a Ministerial Declaration to accept the safety of GM products and recognize the future viability of GMOs (1). The proposal, however, was strongly opposed particularly by Peru, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, the Dominican Republic, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Egypt, Haiti, Uganda, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Honduras, Cuba, Bolivia, Nigeria, and Senegal. These countries argued that the GMO issue advocated by the US should be negotiated according to the biosafety protocol. In the end, the Working Party could not be established (2).

Despite its failure to push the WTO into accepting the liberalization of biotech products, the US succeeded in citing the Agreement on Agriculture to press Bolivia and Sri Lanka to cancel plans to ban GMO imports in 2001(3). In February 2001, Thailand's Food and Drug Administration was also warned that the Ministry of Public Health's extremely strict regulations on GMO labeling might bring about retaliation on Thai exports to the US (4). This was why the proposed threshold for labeling products as GM if they contained 1% or more of GM material, as urged by consumer organizations in Thailand, was increased to 5%.

At the meeting of the senior officials of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Khon Kaen in June 2003, the US tried so hard to press this case that the trade representative of Japan had to declare that apart from Japan, most countries in Asia could not accede to the US proposals (5). When its push to liberalize biotech products and adopt other policies, such as patents on life form, failed to materialize in multilateral negotiations, the US focused more on bilateral and regional free trade negotiations. In a statement at the International Economic Institute on 8 May 2003, US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said "special product sensitivities" will be part of every FTA the US will make with other countries (6).

Therefore, these issues were included in the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) co-signed by Thailand's Minister of Commerce Adisai Bhotaramik and Robert Zoellick at Los Cabos in 2001.

TIFA includes the following topics: (7) 1. Trade and investment facilitation and liberalization; 2. Intellectual property rights (IPRs); 3. Regulations affecting policies on trade and investment; 4. Information and communication technology as well as biotech policy; 5. Trade and capacity building; 6. Issues connected to WTO/APEC; and 7. Other economic issues agreed upon by both parties

Behind the US government are the biotech TNCs No sooner did President George W Bush announce his agreement to the Thai-US Free Trade Agreement on 20 October 2003 (8) during the APEC Summit in Bangkok, than the lobbying byGMO interests was actively renewed. Several years ago, they had very little success in pushing Thailand into accepting the commercial planting of GM crops (9).

On 9 January 2004, Christopher "Kit" Bond, a Republican Senator from Missouri, met with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (10). One day before his meeting with the Thai Prime Minister, the Senator also met with Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti. Bond's meeting with the prime minister was a result from a letter dated 17 October 2004, which he co-signed with six other Senators (11) - Max Baucus, Gordon Smith, Patty Murray, John Breaux, Conrad Burns and Craig Thomas - to support the US's FTA negotiations with Thailand. This shows that behind the FTA deal between these two countries were interest groups in the US that benefited from the deal, especially Monsanto - a biotech TNC affiliated with Pharmacia - whose headquarters is in Missouri.

Monsanto provided financial support to Bond's election campaign. It gave him the biggest election donation any US senators had ever got. The financial support he received from agribusinesses was also bigger than that provided to other senators (12).

An analysis on the Corruption of American Agriculture by Tad Williams also found that besides being a US senator, Christopher "Kit" Bond was on the Monsanto executive board too! (13)

It should be noted that apart from Monsanto, the life science industry has paid a huge amount of money through political and policy activities to solicit support for their interests. Between 1989 and 2003, biotech corporations spent over US$12 million supporting election campaigns. Seventy-seven percent of this election funding was earmarked for the Republican Party. Also, between 1998 and 2002, US$143 million was spent by these firms to lobby the US government and concerned agencies to protect and promote their benefits (14).

With such massive funding, US government policies and operations have been geared towards protecting the benefits of biotech corporations and agribusiness more than serving the interests of small-scale farmers and consumers in general. According to the report on the Corruption of American Agriculture, of the 10 members of the House Agriculture Committee in 1994, seven of them were financially supported by biotech firms. Not surprisingly, a country that takes pride in its democracy and tries to push other nations to follow its economic and political model has paid no attention to most American consumers' demand for GMO labeling. Moreover, it employs aggressive measures against other countries which adopt policies to protect the interests of their farmers and consumers.

American Consumers' Attitude toward GM Foods during 1997-2001(15)

Pollster Duration GMO rejection (%) GMO labeling (%)
ABC News June 2001 52 93
Pew Charitable Trust March 2001 * 75
Angus Reid Group Co. Ltd. June 2000 51 *
USA WEEKEND Online March 2000 * 79
The Economist January 2000 57 *
MSNBC Live Vote Results January 2000 * 81
BSMG Worldwide September 1999 * 92
Edelman Public Relations Worldwide September 1999 * 70
Time Magazine January 1999 58 81
Angus Reid Group Co. Ltd. 1998 48 *
Novartis February 1997 * 93
Vance Publishing February 1995 * 92

* No inquiry made about this topic

The abovementioned analysis was made to alert the Thai government that behind the US negotiations, at bilateral and multilateral levels, are the TNCs. Also the Thai public should always bear in mind that behind the Thai negotiating team may be agribusiness interests too.

Impacts of the liberalization of genetically modified products There are two major types of GM products exported by the US to Thailand: GE food and GE crops. This article will focus more on the latter type, which the Thai government allows and which has had a tremendous effect on the country's agricultural production.

Generally, plant varieties used by Thai farmers are developed by conventional breeding, whereby at least two plant varieties are crossbred. Quantitatively, most of the seeds used by farmers in every planting season are those saved from their own farms as well as those developed and bred by government agencies (see table below). Meanwhile, almost all of the seeds trade is in the hands of TNCs and the joint venture enterprise between Charoen Pokphand and its foreign counterparts.

Eyeing enormous profits in Thailand, the American TNCs aim to control the seeds market, where the producer is the government, as well as the seeds that farmers have saved for further planting. Apart from corn, soybean and rice shown in the table, the TNCs are also interested in many other plant varieties grown in Thailand, including cotton and papaya. For example, in 1997 Monsanto executives planned to open a cotton seeds market in Thailand, aiming to make sales of 1,800 million baht. If Monsanto succeeds in pressing the Thai government to agree to GM crop planting under the FTA, it will make a huge profit of 32,000 million baht during the first 5-10 years of operations. The profits could probably rise to over 75,000 million baht in the next couple of decades.

Yet the overall impacts on Thailand cannot be evaluated by taking into account only the seeds market. If the multinational corporations can take monopoly control of the seeds used by the farmers, it will mean that national agricultural and food production is entirely at the mercy of foreigners. An obvious case in point is the fact that two-thirds of the world's GM seeds are require farmers to use herbicides specified by the seed owners. A minister in the current Thai administration recently said that if the US could plant GM crops, Thailand should be able to do so with no fear. Such a statement, either made out of the speaker's misguided vision of being part of the "new ideas, new actions" government or as resulting of his being consumption of the TNCs' "information", clearly shows how biotech industry propaganda had made the government willing to welcome GMOs from the US. These people are "ignorant&qout; or "pretend to be ignorant" of the fact that the GE cotton covers two-thirds of the total US areas planted to cotton. And this vast coverage is the result of the Republican government's subsidies to cotton production and exports. For every acre of cotton an American farmer grew, they got US$230 in subsidy support because transgenic cotton planted by American farmers cost three times more that that grown in an African country like Burkina Faso (25).

Thailand's not too distant neighbour India allowed Monsanto's "bollguard" GE cotton to be planted in the country in 2002. Just in the first season, over 70% of the farmers in Andra Pradesh-India's second biggest cotton-growing state-suffered devastating losses. Apart from dependence on chemicals, the yields and quality of GE cotton fiber were also lower than those of the Indian native cotton.

Proposals to the government and people of Thailand The Thai government should by no means allow the US to press for the GE crops for commercial purposes. Before commercial planting of GE crops in the country is permitted, other issues such as the environment, health and Thailand's future should be considered in addition to commercial objectives. Even limited planting of GE crops could bring about genetic contamination and the destruction of biological diversity, on which our lives and economy are based. The decision on the GMOs should be made only by the farmers, consumers and citizens of Thailand. It must not result from the pressure by the American biotech multinationals.

The successful push for the patent rights to life forms or the pressure put on Thailand to become a member of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) in order to accept the UPOV 1991 meant that the government agreed to change domestic laws so that farmers were prohibited from farm save seed and exchange seeds among themselves. Such acceptance violates the basic rights of the farmers and their communities, which are provided by the Constitution. Moreover, it is destructive to the country's cultural basis on which biological diversity is created. It also allows foreigners to take possession of nation biological resources through the enforcement of patent laws on life forms.

It is more likely that the national agribusiness giant will collaborate with the US transnationals and interest groups to support Thailand's acceptance of biotech products and the IPR regime recognized by the industrialized countries. Thailand's agribusiness giants have increasingly cultivated closer business relations with the transnationals. If these business giants can conclude successful business deals, Thai farmers and people will simply lose in this negotiating battle. We need to monitor closely the moves of the Thai agribusiness giants and the transnationals, which are behind the promotion of biotech policies.

So far, the farmers and people of Thailand have been excluded from decision-making on biotech policies. If the Thai government facilitated the meeting of an American senator who represents the American transnational interests with the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister at Government House on 8-9 January 2004, it should provide similar rights to Thai farmers and people.

To decide an FTA with the US, based on reading the book " …“As the Future Catches You" ¯Â¿Â½ and the one-sided information provided by agribusiness and bio-industrial corporations, will definitely lead Thai farmers and the agricultural sector to ruin.

1. Paragraph 29 (vi) under the Section on Agriculture in the Ministerial Text of 19th October for the WTO Ministerial meeting Measures Affecting Trade in Agricultural Biotechnology Products. Communication from the United States, 27 July 1999, Preparations for the 1999 Ministerial Conference - Negotiations on Agriculture. WT/GC/W/288. August 4, 1999.

2. Khor M.: WTO biotech Working Party opposed by majority, South-North Development Monitor (SUNS), November 7, 1999.

3. The US War on Biosafety : Renewed Aggression by a Rogue State, June 2003

4. GM foods: Sanctions threatened over labels, The Nation, July 19, 2001.

5. US push on GMOs runs into trouble, The Nation, June 3, 2003;

6. Zoellick Says FTA Candidates Must Support U.S. Foreign Policy, Inside US Trade, May 16, 2003

7. US and Thailand Sign Bilateral TIFA, The American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand

8. President Bush Announces United States Intends to Negotiate a Free Trade Agreement with Thailand, Fact Sheet Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:http://usinfo.state.gov)

9. It is possible that the Ministry of Agriculture's effort to push for the revocation of the 3 April 2001 cabinet resolution, which banned GM crops field trials, was one of the US conditions that also included the call for active abolition of products made in violation of IPRs.

10. http://www.thaigov.go.th/news/schedule/47/sc09jan47.htm

11. Press Release of Committee of Finance, United States Senate, Friday, October 17, 2003

12. The money received might be higher owing to partial disclosure of information; for further details please see www.opensecrets.com

13. The Corruption of American Agriculture (2001),Tad Williams, Americans for Democratic Action Education Fund , www.adaction.org, adaction@ix.netcom.com

14. Food Fight, Vikki Kratz, Center for Responsive Politic and www.opensecrets.com

15. From an article on "GMOs updates and Thailand's solutions to policy making" by Witoon Lianchamroon.

16. 2001 figures from the Pacific Seeds Company.

17. Source: Private Investment in Agricultural Research and International Technology Transfer in Asia, Agricultural Economic Report No. 805, USDA, 1996.

18. Data from the Agricultural Extension Department, 2003.

19. Data from the Pacific Seeds Company, 2003. .

20. An estimate based on the data gained from the Ministry of Agriculture and Charoen Pokphand in 2003.

21. An estimate based on an interview given by a Monsanto executive in 1997.

22. Today, 90% of corn varieties are in the hands of CP, DeKalb and Cargil, of which the latter two firms have been taken over by Monsanto. The estimated increase in the value of seeds is based on the assumption that future use of GM corn seeds will be two times higher than that of hybrid corn seeds.

23. The value of GM soybean seeds is estimated to be five times higher than that of open hybrids. In the future, the GM soybean seed value might rise two times higher, as the market is completely monopolized.

24. The price of GM rice seeds is estimated to be two times higher than that of normal rice, and the price will be five times higher in the long term.

25. Cultivating Poverty: The Impact of US Cotton Subsidies on Africa. Oxfam Briefing Paper no. 30.

Indonesia and Bilateral Trade Agreements (BTAs)
Author: Alexander C. Chandra, IGJ
I. Introduction

There have been a growing number of bilateral trade agreements (BTAs) in recent years. Many such agreements are to be found in the East Asian region, such as the agreements made between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)[1] and the three Northeast Asian countries, namely China, Japan, and South Korea. These BTAs have resulted in increased calls for stronger regionalism in the East Asian region under the auspices of the ASEAN plus Three (APT) initiative. The increasing tendency to form BTAs in this region deserves special attention, particularly in regard to the implications for each individual state involved in an agreement. This paper attempts to address this issue. More specifically, it attempts to analyse the impacts that the recently proposed BTAs in the East Asian region may bring towards the domestic agricultural and non-agricultural industries, food security, and rural development of one ASEAN member country, Indonesia. Unlike the other original members of ASEAN, such as Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines, the Indonesian government has been rather slow in pursuing a BTA policy with non-ASEAN member countries. Nevertheless, due to the proliferation of BTAs in other ASEAN countries' foreign economic policies (FEPs), it was inevitable that Indonesia would pursue similar agreements with one or the rest of the plus Three countries in Northeast Asia. Moreover, the Indonesian government is also considering the possibility of opening free trade negotiations with the US. To date, however, one concrete BTA that Indonesia is involved in is with China, which has come about as a result of the ratification of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) in 2002. Meanwhile, feasibility studies are being carried out on BTAs with Japan (ASEAN Japan Free Trade Agreements - AJFTA) and South Korea (ASEAN-South Korea Free Trade Agreements - ASKFTA).

Although the implementation of most of these agreements in the East Asian region are still in their infancy, it is possible to identify some of the major implications that these agreements may have for Indonesian industrial and agricultural sectors. After all, free trade agreements (FTAs) that are not based on fair trade rules generally produce losers and winners. The analysis in this paper is based on field research interviews with various local business associations, the academic community, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) / Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), and the representatives of the various foreign embassies concerned (i.e. The Republic of China, Japan, and South Korea). In order to facilitate our discussion, this paper is divided into several sections: (1) BTAs and regionalism in the global political economy; (2) investments and trade regimes leading to BTAs; (3) BTAs and Indonesia's trade and investment policies; (4) BTAs and their implications for the Indonesian economy; (5) policy proposals and recommendations.

II. BTAs and regionalism in the global political economy today

Figure 1.

RTAs in force by date of notification

Source: WTO official website (accessed 2004) at: http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/region_e/regfac_e.htm

In theoretical terms, a bilateral trade agreement (BTA) is one feature of regionalism. Indeed, regionalism today can be formed on a plurilateral basis or bilaterally between two states or between an existing regional grouping and a state or another regional grouping. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) (see figure 1), for example, notes the existence of 124 regional trade agreements (RTAs) during the period 1948-1994. Since the creation of the WTO in 1995, about 100 additional regional arrangements have been formed to promote liberalisation of both trade and services. To date, there are 250 RTAs, of which 196, or roughly 78.4 percent, were operational as of August 2004, whilst the remaining 54 RTAs are still under negotiation.[2] The majority of the existing BTAs were formed bilaterally, either as a custom union, free trade agreements, preferential agreements, or service agreements. There is now one bilateral custom union (BCU) between two states and four BCUs between a regional grouping and a state. Furthermore, there are also eighty-one bilateral free trade agreements (BFTAs) between two states and fourty-nine BFTAs between a regional grouping and a state. In addition, there is one bilateral preferential arrangement (BPAs) between two states, and thirteen bilateral service agreements (BSAs) between two states with another thirteen between a regional grouping and a state. The majority, or twenty-five, of the existing BSAs are also part of BFTA deals. In total, there are now 162 BTAs in operation, or about 64.8 percent of total RTAs. Thus, it can be said that 'a large part of regionalism is new bilateralism' (Lloyd 2002). By 2002, the total number of RTAs had increased to 250, showing an increase of 130 since the creation of the WTO. A WTO (2000: 3) study also suggests that by 2005 the total number of RTAs could reach approximately 300 if those RTAs presently at the planning or negotiation stage are put into operation.

It is, therefore, clear that there are many forms of BTAs. A service agreement is the simplest form of BTA. This is an agreement between two parties to liberalise trade in the service sector only (i.e. the United States (US) and Jordan; the European Community (EC) and Slovenia). The process of economic integration between two countries, or between a country and a regional grouping, becomes a little more complex when they decide to form BPAs and BFTAs. The first normally refers to 'trade arrangements under which a party agree " ¦ to accord [the other] party preferential treatment in trade in goods and services. They may give each other preferences in the form of reduced tariffs, their complete elimination, or in the case of services, partial liberalisation' (Goode 1998: 220). One example of this is the BPA between Laos and Thailand. Similarly, a BFTA also 'allows for tariff-free trade [amongst] the member countries' (Lipsey and Chrystal 1999: 487), such as in the case of existing BFTAs between the US and Israel and between the EC and Egypt. The principal difference between BPAs and BFTAs is that the latter tends to include full product coverage in all sectors. A BPA normally only decreases tariffs between the involved parties through a product by product and / or sectoral based mechanism. There are some BFTAs that also cover service agreements, such as BFTAs between South Korea and Chile and Singapore and New Zealand. Finally, a BCU normally involves a suppression of any discrimination in commodity movements as well as the imposition of an equalisation of tariffs towards non-involved countries (Balassa 1961: 2). Examples of this type of economic integration can be found in BCUs formed between the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic and between the EC and Cyprus.

Despite the increased use of BTAs in foreign economic policy (FEP) for many countries around the world, this type of trade agreement is not a new phenomenon. The first BTA was formed between the European Community and the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) in 1971,[3] and was operated under an FTA status. Subsequently, many other BTAs have been formed with any one of the aforementioned features, mostly between a regional grouping and a state. The European Free Trade Association (EFTA)[4] and the EC were particularly active in promoting bilateralism with other states, which is still an ongoing process conducted by both regional groupings. In the Asia-Pacific region, BTAs started to emerge in the early 1990s. It was the countries of the Southeast Asian region that began to pursue BTAs. In 1991, for example, one BTA negotiation was concluded between Thailand and Laos. It was only eight years later, or in 1999, that other BTA negotiations were concluded in the Asia-Pacific region, one was between India and Sri Lanka and the other was between India and Nepal. Since 2000, there has been a proliferation of BTAs in Southeast Asia, starting with Singapore and New Zealand in 2000. Subsequently, ten other BTAs were formed between countries in the Asia-Pacific region. In Southeast Asia, Singapore has so far been taking a leading role in promoting BTAs. To date, there are eighteen BTAs under negotiation and five or six BTAs that are still being researched.

Table 1.

Bilateral trade agreements in the Asia Pacific region


Bilateral Trade Agreements



Thai - Laos

Concluded - 1991


India - Sri Lanka

Concluded - 1999


India - Nepal

Concluded - 1999


Singapore - New Zealand

Concluded - 2000


Japan - Singapore

Concluded - 2002


China - Hong Kong

Concluded - 2003


Singapore - US

Concluded - 2003


Singapore - European Free Trade Area (EFTA)

Concluded - 2003


Singapore - Australia

Concluded - 2003


South Korea - Chile

Concluded - 2003


Taiwan - Panama

Concluded - 2003


Thailand - Australia

Concluded - 2003


Singapore - Jordan

Concluded - 2004


Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand (BIMST)- European Community (EC)

Concluded - 2004


Singapore - South Korea

Concluded - 2005


China - ASEAN

Framework agreement concluded - 2002


Thailand - Bahrain

Framework agreement concluded - 2002


Thailand - India

Framework agreement concluded - 2003


ASEAN - India

Framework agreement concluded - 2003


Thailand - Peru

Framework agreement concluded - 2003


India - Southern Cone Common Market (Mercosur)

Framework agreement concluded - 2003


Sri Lanka - Pakistan

Framework agreement concluded - ?


Singapore - Mexico

Under negotiation - 2000


Singapore - Canada

Under negotiation - 2001


Hong Kong - New Zealand

Under negotiation - 2001


Japan - Mexico

Under negotiation - 2002


ASEAN - Closer Economic Relations (CER)

Under negotiation - 2002


Japan - Korea

Under negotiation - 2003


Japan - Philippines

Under negotiation - 2003


Japan - Thailand

Under negotiation - 2003


Singapore - India

Under negotiation - 2003


Japan - Malaysia

Under negotiation - 2004


Japan - ASEAN

Government officials level consultation - 2003


Japan - Indonesia

Government preparation meeting - 2003


Singapore - Sri Lanka

Under research - 2003


Thailand - New Zealand

Under research - 2003


India - Mexico


There are several reasons why countries in the East Asian region choose to pursue BTAs. At the macro level, the trend to conduct BTAs is constituent to broader post-crisis changes in the political economy of the East Asian region (Dobson 2001; Webber 2001). It is what Dent (2002: 1-2) refers to as 'a general shift from a neo-mercantilist to a neo-liberal approach to trade policy amongst East Asian states'. In Northeast Asia, China, Japan, and South Korea have been accommodating the principle and practice of free trade, most of which is due to the advancement of domestic reforms in those countries during the post-Asian economic crisis era. Southeast Asian countries have generally been accommodating the same free trade principles and practices since the emergence of the economic crisis of 1997, particularly as a result of the prescriptions made by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

Another reason for the proliferation of BTAs at the macro level is the passion of some East Asian leaders to deepen regional economic co-operation. There can be little doubt that one important external imperative for East Asia to purse a regional grouping for itself is the fast growing economic regionalism in the world economy (Mansfield and Milner 1999). Technically, BTAs have been perceived as part of a trade policy that facilitates the creation of an East Asian Free Trade Area (EAFTA) in the future. The idea was first initiated in the early 1990s when the then Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr. Mahathir, proposed the creation of the East Asian Economic Group (EAEG), which was composed of all the Asian member countries of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC). However, as expected, the proposal received stern criticisms from the US. Subsequently, Indonesia suggested the creation of the East Asian Economic Caucus (EAEC) as a replacement for the EAEG, which then became a caucus within APEC ( ƒÆ’&jendal 2001: 168; Cheng 2004: 262). The drive towards the deepening of regional economic co-operation was pushed forward after the economic crisis in 1997. During the Second ASEAN Informal Summit in Kuala Lumpur, ASEAN invited the three Northeast Asian countries of China, Japan and South Korea to create the ASEAN plus Three (APT) initiative, which can act as a stepping stone for the creation of EAFTA and the East Asian Investment Area (EAIA). For some observers within the region, the development of APT, especially during the recent economic crisis, is seen as a 'fresh infusion of political stability and economic dynamism' (Alatas 2001: 1). Alatas holds that enhanced regional economic integration under the APT mechanism is logical for several reasons. Firstly, it increases economic interdependence and complementarity in the region. Secondly, both regions have previously signified their intentions to implement such a co-operation. Thirdly, it is a response to the challenges that globalisation poses to the East Asian region.

At the micro level, countries in both the Southeast and Northeast Asian regions have their own motives for pursuing a BTA policy. For Southeast Asian countries, there are four reasons to pursue a BTA policy. Firstly, some members of ASEAN have begun to feel that the progress of AFTA is too slow (Eng 2003: 63; Pangestu 2004). Since the economic crisis in 1997, intra regional trade in ASEAN has only increased by about 4 percent, from 19 percent to 23 percent, despite the acceleration of the AFTA schedule from 2003 to 2002. By neo-liberal standards, AFTA's achievement has been modest (Economist 2004). The implementation of AFTA has had to face various obstacles, such as when some member countries refused to lower tariffs on certain sensitive products, as evident in the automotive industry. In fact, the pursuit of a BTA strategy by ASEAN member countries, such as Singapore, was thought to be a way to compensate for AFTA downward market potential (Dent 2002: 3). Secondly, ASEAN remains a weak regional grouping in the global economy. As a result, the adoption of a BTA strategy between ASEAN and Northeast Asian states is hoped to strengthen ASEAN as a grouping, and to increase the leverage of ASEAN member countries' bargaining position in the international arena. Thirdly, ASEAN states are also attracted by the opportunities made available by pursuing a BTA strategy with their Northeast Asian counterparts (Cai 2003: 398). It is also interesting to point out that, between 1999-2000, two-way trade between ASEAN and the three Northeast Asian countries grew from US$ 158.2 billion to US$ 201.7 billion (Eng 2003: 67). Up until recently, China, Japan, and South Korea were amongst the top ten of ASEAN's major trading partners.[5] Finally, the slow progress of multilateral trade negotiations under the auspices of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) also plays an important role in promoting BTAs in the East Asian region (Harvie and Lee 2002: 125). The WTO's failure to begin a new round of multilateral negotiation in Seattle in 1999 shows the difficulty posed to the push towards global trade liberalisation. The gap of interests between the developed and the developing countries is so wide that it was nearly impossible for the two camps to come up with any converging viewpoint on the way in which global trade liberalisation could be achieved. Trade agreements that involve a smaller number of participants are used as an alternative to push for trade liberalisation in the region.

Meanwhile, the reasons for Northeast Asian countries to pursue BTAs with their Southeast Asian counterparts are also varied, encompassing both political and economic motives. Although the majority of Northeast Asian countries generally adopt a fairly positive attitude towards FTAs, there are still a number of political issues that these countries need to address prior to committing into a real Northeast Asian regionalism. This has been the case with the relationship between, for example, China and Japan. Given the complexity of Sino-Japanese relations, both countries prefer to take an easier route by conducting FTAs with the smaller states of Southeast Asia (Chai 2003: 398; Dent 2002). This is not to say that regionalism has never been a part of Northeast Asian countries' economic and political agendas. A Chinese Embassy official mentioned in interview that although there are talks to promote East Asian economic integration, unresolved political issues between North and South Korea, China and Taiwan, as well as between China and Japan, remain major obstacles for the creation of economic regionalism in the region.[6] Meanwhile, his Japanese counterpart maintained that the Japanese government is taking a rather cautious approach to this issue. After all, China has just joined the WTO, and, according to this representative, the Japanese government would want to see how well China is coping with WTO rules.[7] As a result, it seems unlikely that the Japanese government would want to propose any concrete regionalism plan in Northeast Asia soon.

In his article, Jian Yang (2003: 314-5) has pinpointed why it is likely that Southeast Asia would maintain its strategic advantage in its relations with Northeast Asian countries, particularly China and Japan. Firstly, Southeast Asia provides a key strategic influence for both countries. For China, in particular, ASEAN is an important regional forum to counter the US' containment strategy (Ganesan 2000: 271). Secondly, Japan and China also see the Southeast Asian region as strategically important for geo-political reasons, as most of their trade must pass through the Southeast Asian region. In addition, Southeast Asia is an important source of raw materials for Northeast Asian countries. Thirdly, Northeast Asian countries also perceive the growing population of Southeast Asia (about 450 million to date) as a potential market to penetrate. The deepening of economic integration between Northeast and Southeast Asian regions is seen as crucial by political leaders in Northeast Asia.

Moreover, Northeast Asian countries are also interested in finding ways to exploit AFTA (Cheng 2004: 266). There appears to be a consensus amongst Chinese leaders that AFTA would not only enhance economic co-operation in the Southeast Asian region, but also in the Asia-Pacific (Cheng 2004: 265). Meanwhile, the Japanese government has also shown that it is willing to be flexible about possible FTAs in the East Asian region. In October 2002, for example, the Japanese Foreign Ministry, Gaimusho, released a document entitled Japan's FTA Strategy, which pinpointed ASEAN as a potential FTA partner, along with South Korea. It has also been highlighted in a report produced by the ASEAN Expert Group (2002) that the ASEAN-Japan Closer Economic Partnership (AJCEP) will increase ASEAN's exports to Japan by 44.2 percent and increase Japanese exports to Southeast Asia by 27.5 percent by 2020. At the same time, a similar study conducted by the ASEAN-China Expert Group on Economic Co-operation (2001) concluded that ACFTA would increase ASEAN's exports to China by 48 percent, and would increase China's total GDP by 0.3 percent.[8]

III.  Investment and trade regime leading to BTAs

As a regional grouping, ASEAN generally ascribes to an open regionalism orthodoxy (Palmer 1991; Hallet and Braga 1994), in which 'the regional co-operation envisaged will be outward looking and take place within an open framework' (Od ƒÂ©n 1999: 161). Indeed, open regionalism has become the new and dominant form of economic thinking (Schulz 2001: 11). Since the early 1990s, the Southeast Asian region has been closely associated with the so-called new regionalism phenomenon, which characterises the process of regionalism as the transformation from protectionism to an open economic system, outward and market oriented, and spontaneous.[9] Another key feature of open regionalism is competitiveness, which highlights the need for a country to 'meet the test of international markets while simultaneously maintaining and expanding the real incomes of its citizens' (OECD 1992: 242). On the whole, markets and technology have been the keys to the advancement of open regionalism (Barry and Keith 1999). Despite this, the open regionalism concept in Southeast Asia has not been associated with advanced integration schemes, such as a common market, but with cross-border investments and a flexible and a well-functioning system (Od ƒÂ©n 1999: 161). Therefore, economic openness has been the key to the investment and trade regime in the ASEAN region.

The intensification of regional economic trade since the demise of the Cold War has made it possible for ASEAN countries to enhance economic co-operation with countries beyond Southeast Asia. One example of this is the interest shown by ASEAN member countries to become involved in Asia-Pacific regionalism, under the auspices of APEC. A more recent example of the tendency of ASEAN member countries to pursue a more outward and open economic policy with external parties is their involvement in the APT mechanism. Beyond East Asia and the Asia-Pacific, ASEAN countries have also begun to rectify the weakness in their relations with the European Union (EU) by conducting closer bilateral efforts on both sides and by using the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) as a framework for inter-regional co-operation (Dent 2001: 25). [10] These examples suggest that the attitudes of Southeast Asian policy makers today have transformed, and are more accommodating of the emerging patterns of regionalisation and globalisation.

Table 2

Existing tariffs reduction agenda between ASEAN and its major trading partners

Trade Partners





Early implementation with normal track

1 January 2004 - 31 December 2006 (or 2010 for full trade liberalisation)

The early implementation of ACFTA involves the tariff cuts on 600 commodities only


Early implementation

1 January 2005 (from an initially November 2004)

The delay emerged as a result of the lack of agreement between ASEAN and India on the rule of origin mechanism


Implementation negotiation

November 2005, 2012 (target)

Slow negotiation emerged as a result of opposition from several key Japanese government offices.


Implementation negotiation

January 2005, 2017 (target)

There have been no discussions on the products that will be listed in the proposed BTA between ASEAN and Australia

South Korea

Implementation negotiation

January 2005, 2009 (target)

The implementation of BFTA between ASEAN and South Korea will only cover about 80 percent of total items whilst the remaining 20 percent of items will be placed in the sensitive list category.

Source: Tempo (2004: 175)

Amongst the three BTAs that exist between ASEAN and Northeast Asian countries, the agreement with China is the most concrete and is already in the process of implementation. The idea was first initiated during the ASEAN-China Summit in November 2000 by Chinese Premier, Zhu Rongji. For a number of historical and political reasons, Indonesia and Malaysia expressed their reservations towards Premier Zhu's proposal (Huang 2002: 2). However, both Southeast Asian countries soon realised that to turn down Premier Zhu's proposal would make them more vulnerable in light of the acceleration of the global economy, the rise of RTAs, and China's emergence as a global economic force. Nearly a year later in 2001, in Brunei, the ASEAN-China Expert Group on Economic Co-operation (2001: 30) issued a report on the feasibility of ACFTA, which stated that this trade deal was an important move forwards in terms of economic integration in East Asia and a foundation to the establishment of EAFTA. Subsequently, in 2002, China and ASEAN agreed to sign a Framework Agreement on comprehensive Economic Co-operation (FACEC), which, amongst other things, envisaged the operation of an FTA between China and the six older ASEAN member countries from 2010, whilst full trade liberalisation between China and the remaining ASEAN members (Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos) would be in force by 2015 (Wattanapruttipaisan 2003: 32). It was hoped that by the end of 2009, tariffs between the two parties would be cut to as low as 0-5 percent on all commodities and all non-tariff barriers (NTBs) would be removed (Cai 2003: 396). The implementation of a BFTA between ASEAN and China will begin with the early harvest programme whereby China has agreed to phase out import tariffs on selected items from the ASEAN's six core member countries (Eng 2003: 59). More specifically, this programme will phase out tariffs on 600 agricultural products from six ASEAN core countries, which includes live animals, meat, fishery, dairy produce, other animal products, live trees, etc.

Unlike the free trade deal between ASEAN and China, free trade deals between ASEAN and other two Northeast Asian countries, Japan and South Korea, have achieved little in terms of the institutionalisation of the agreements. This is quite surprising in the Japanese case given the relatively more heterogeneous economic character between ASEAN and Japan. Japan has, so far, concluded an FTA agreement with Singapore, whilst the proposed BFTAs with the Philippines, Thailand, and Malaysia are still under negotiation. In the meantime, the status of the proposed BFTAs between Japan and ASEAN and between Japan and Indonesia are still under research. The current negotiation between ASEAN and Japan is actually at the stage of official consultations (as of 2003), whilst negotiations between Indonesia and Japan is still at the preparatory meeting stage (as of 2003) (Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Indonesian Ministry of Co-ordinator on Economy 2004). Difficulties within the proposed ASEAN-Japan BFTA come from both sides. Whilst ASEAN countries are still wary of past Japanese hegemonic-imperialist ambitions, Japan seems to lack any clear long-term objective about East Asian integration. Japanese domestic constituents appear to have been convinced that commitments to any regional co-operations would confine Japanese's global objectives (Cai 2003: 399). Moreover, unlike the case of the ACFTA, where the Chinese government was able to influence its domestic constituents about the possible benefits of FTAs, particularly after the country's accession into the WTO, the Japanese government has not yet been able to influence, for example, its politically powerful farmers of the positive impacts that FTAs could have on Japanese's agricultural sector (Eng 2003: 59). Japan was able to conclude its BFTA with Singapore in 2002 partly as a result of the exclusion of the agricultural sector in the negotiation process.

Meanwhile, although the South Korean government is generally quite receptive towards the strengthening of regionalism in the East Asian region, BFTAs, whether with ASEAN or with ASEAN individual state, are yet to materialise. To date, the South Korean government has only negotiated on a possible BFTA with its Northeast Asian partner, Japan, and is conducting a feasibility study on a BFTA with Singapore. It was, after all, the then South Korean President, Kim Dae-Jung, who initially proposed the creation of APT during the Sixth ASEAN Summit in 1998. Academics in South Korea have pointed out that Northeast Asian regionalism would boost South Korea's gross domestic product (GDP) by 3.2. percent, or by about US$ 12.7 billion (Kim Mi-Hui 2002). Similarly, the former South Korean Foreign Minister, Han Sung Joo, was reported to have claimed that the creation of an FTA pact between ASEAN and South Korea is more than likely to boost additional foreign investments and competitiveness in the region (Fore 2002). In spite of the proposed advantages, the South Korean government remains cautious towards taking active moves to create any BFTA with either its Northeast Asian counterparts, ASEAN or any individual ASEAN state.

Despite the early scepticism expressed by some ASEAN member countries towards the formulation of BTAs between ASEAN and Northeast Asian countries, the majority of Southeast Asian policy-makers have been taking increasingly active roles in the promotion of BTAs. This is particularly the case with Indonesia. As mentioned earlier, Indonesia, along with Malaysia, initially expressed reservations about the development of BTAs. Recently, however, Indonesian policy-makers are taking a more open attitude towards the current development of BTAs. To start with, the free trade agreement between ASEAN and China was approved by the Indonesian President, Megawati Sukarnoputri, on the 15th June 2004, through the ratification of Presidential Decree No. 48/2004. Following the ratification of this FTA deal, the Director General of International Co-operation at the Ministry of Industry and Trade expressed Indonesia's hope to double its export value to China from US$ 2.9 billion in 2003 to US$ 5.8 billion by 2007 (Hakim 2004a). Moreover, in a recent conference entitled Indonesia's Readiness to Face the Development of Free Trade Areas (FTAs) Formation, which was held to create an initial blue-print for the Indonesian BTA policy, on 5th August 2004, the Indonesian Minister for Economic Co-ordination, Dorodjatun Kuntjorojakti, said that the increasing number of BFTAs conducted by Indonesia's major trading partners would have to be observed closely as they would generate discrimination towards Indonesian products abroad.[11]

Some non-state actors are equally supportive towards the push for further Indonesian involvement in BTAs. At the aforementioned conference, the Vice-President of the main Indonesian business association, the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KADIN - Kamar Dagang dan Industri Indonesia), John A. Prasetio, expressed his concerns over the lack of concrete policy issued by the Indonesian government concerning Indonesia's future involvement in FTAs (Bisnis Indonesia 2004a). Previously, KADIN had also tried to persuade the two most notable Indonesian presidential candidates, Megawati Sukarnoputri and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to consider pushing through BTAs with Indonesia's major trading partners (Bisnis Indonesia 2004b). These developments highlight the change of attitude amongst Indonesian policy-makers and some domestic pressure groups to push for BTAs with Indonesia's major trading partners.

However, this change of attitude amongst Indonesian policy-makers and key pressure groups is not so surprising. This new, more open, attitude has grown since the economic crisis of 1997. The conditions attached to the proposed reform programmes suggested by the IMF and the World Bank have pressurised the Indonesian economy to be more open and more adaptive to international economy and foreign direct investments. Aside from that, Indonesia is also involved in the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) and the global trade liberalisation agenda under the auspices of the WTO. In fact, the acceleration of the AFTA schedule from the initially agreed 2003 to 2002 was an indication of a move towards a more open economic system. In other words, the acceleration of the AFTA schedule was complementary to the Indonesian policy makers' plan to reform the domestic economy under the IMF's programme. This was also the case with Indonesia's continued support for global trade liberalisation within the WTO forum. Indonesia's agricultural and industrial tariffs would be phased out sooner or later.

IV. BTAs and their implications for Indonesian trade and investment policies

Table 3

Indonesia's tariff reduction schedule, 1995-2003 (in %)

Tariff before May 1995

















Max 5




Max 5






Max 5







Max 5







Max 10









Max 10










Max 10










Max 10

> 45









Max 10

Source: FAO official website (accessed September 2004)

As mentioned in the previous section, the orientation of the Indonesian economy has been relatively open since the economic crisis of 1997. As they stand, Indonesian trade and investment policies remain in line with global trade liberalisation. Indonesia's commitment in the WTO and AFTA has generally lowered the tariff level for domestic manufacture and agriculture sectors to between 5-10 percent by 2003 (refer to table 3). The WTO (2003), for example, generally considers trade liberalisation as one of the key factors that can foster growth and stabilise the Indonesian economy. In a report made by the government of Indonesia (2003) to the WTO Trade Policy Review Body, it was stated that increased national competitiveness was the key trade policy adopted by the Indonesian government to cope with increasing global competition. Amongst some of the key objectives highlighted in the report as part of the general aim to revitalise and further develop the Indonesian economy were the maintenance and the increase of foreign investment in Indonesia. Whilst the revitalisation programme includes those relatively well-established industries, such as textiles, electronics, footwear, wood processing, and pulp and paper industries, industries earmarked for development include those that have the potential to absorb labour and foreign exchange earnings, such as leather and leather products, fish processing, crude palm oil, fertiliser, agriculture machinery and products, food products, software, jewellery, and handicraft industries. These are the industries identified by the Indonesian government as capable of competing in the international market.

Moreover, the continued elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers (NTBs) is also a key to maintaining the openness of the Indonesian economy. These policies were imposed in order to expose Indonesian domestic industries to international competition. The programme of the reduction of tariffs and NTBs is also in line with Indonesia's commitment to global trade liberalisation under the auspices of the WTO and regional trade liberalisation within the sphere of AFTA and APEC, all of which were formally ratified under the Ministerial Decree of Finance No. 378/KMK.01/1996. In its commitment to AFTA, for example, Indonesia has been reducing most of its industrial tariffsat the level of between 0-5 percent. The aforementioned report produced by the Indonesian government also stipulated that tariff reduction has greatly affected the structure of import tariffs since the 1997 economic crisis. In 1998, for example, the average import tariff was 9.34 percent (covering 5,214 tariff lines or 72.30 percent of the total tariffs). The number of products with tariff lines of 0-10 percent was increased to 6,062, or about 83.2 percent of total tariffs in 2000. Moreover, the government of Indonesian has also acted aggressively in removing non-tariff barriers since the economic crisis in 1997, such as the elimination of restrictions on import licenses for dairy products, and so on.

Meanwhile, Indonesian investment policy has been more or less similar to the overall objectives of Indonesian trade policy. This includes maintaining the notion of openness to foreign investments. One main modification of past investment policy has been the simplification of the procedures potential investors have to go through by the introduction of the one stop service (Thanadsillapakul 2004). This was made possible when the Abdurrahman Wahid administration improved the existing Foreign Capital Investment Law of 1967, which gave substantial incentives to foreign investors (i.e. tax holidays, etc). In the past, for example, apart from dealing with the Board of Investment Co-ordination (BKPM - Badan Koordinasi Penanaman Modal), foreign investors were also required to work closely with relevant technical departments, such as the Ministry of Finance, the Directorate General of Custom and Excise, the Ministry of Justice, and so on.[12] The new investment regulations, however, meant that foreign investors could deal directly with BKPM. In addition, the Wahid administration also speeded up the Initial Investment Approval (IIA), which had previously taken a few months, to a maximum period of 15 working days.

Since the economic crisis of 1997, the main obstacles to investment in Indonesia have been international as much as domestic. At the international level, aggressive US foreign policy towards Afghanistan and Iraq has had a damaging effect on the Indonesian economy. Such policies have stimulated threats and demonstrations against the US and its allies in Indonesia (Anwar 2003: 75). At the domestic level, issues such as regional security, law enforcement, labour market problems, the overlapping responsibilities of the central and provincial government, regulatory burdens, and distortions in the tax system remain major problems to be confronted by potential investors in Indonesia (Bappenas 2003).[13] In response to gloomy international economic conditions and domestic economic uncertainty, the Megawati administration declared the year 2003 Indonesian Investment Year. During the launching of the programme in early 2003, President Megawati promised that her administration would create a favourable climate for investment and would continue to introduce reforms in various sectors, particularly the fiscal and economic sectors (Sulistyowati 2003). It was hoped that this programme would lead to conditions more conducive to the recovery of the national economy. Amongst other issues, the so-called improvements in the year 2003 and subsequent years include a revision of the investment laws, tightened security, as well as an attempt to co-ordinate the regulations of the central and provincial governments.

On the whole, therefore, Indonesian trade and investments policies have been generally open and receptive towards international trade and foreign investments. The conduct of BTAs between Indonesia and its major trading partners would further open up the Indonesian economy. Whilst the majority of the current literature on BTAs appears to support the emergence of this model of trade agreement, the proposed BTAs that involve Indonesia would be generally detrimental to Indonesia's overall national economic interests. The first problem posed by a BTA is that this type of agreement is far easier to negotiate in comparison to an agreement that involves more participants. As a result, agreements in a BTA can usually be achieved much faster. In a multilateral trade negotiation, however, full trade liberalisation that covers all products is difficult to finalise as a result of the wide divergence of interests between more developed and poorer member countries. In contrast, FTA negotiations that involve only two participating countries are easier to finalise. However, in a case where a BTA involves a more developed country and a poorer country, and given the relatively weak bargaining position of the latter, it is likely that the more developed country will jeopardise the process of negotiation. In the proposed BFTA between Indonesia and the US, for example, although some Indonesian domestic industries, such as textiles and apparels, furniture, etc, may benefit through this trade agreement (Hakim 2004b), it is likely that the US would want to push for other trade deals, such as that of intellectual property rights, which have not yet been finalised at the global level. In other words, BTAs are pushing developing countries, such as Indonesia, to be more aggressive in pursuing an open market policy.

Secondly, BTAs would further complicate custom procedures at the border, particularly when the countries involved also belong to a regional grouping or a multilateral trade forum. This is particularly relevant with the issue of rules of origin, which is a powerful trade policy instrument arbitrating the market access to goods (Estevadeordal and Suominen 2003: 1). The rules of origin policy is particularly useful when the countries involved in a trade agreement grant each other preferential market access. More specifically, it is used to determine whether or not the origin of imported goods is eligible for preferential treatment in the importing country. A recent study conducted by the WTO Secretariat (2002: 11) demonstrates that the 'diversity of RTAs (or "RTA-families") results in a lack of uniformity in preferential rules of origin regimes worldwide'. For a supporter of multilateralism, such as Bhagwati (1995), this would create a spaghetti bowl effect where products in a particular country enjoy access on varying terms based on their country of origins. If this occurs, then the fear is that such FTAs can be inward-looking in character. For a developing country, such as Indonesia, the issue does not only depend on whether the proposed BTA would be inward or outward looking, but more on the ability of its custom officials to determine the origin of the imported products. The existence of BTAs would no doubt add confusion to the work of Indonesian custom officials who have been overwhelmed by the country's overlapping commitment in both multilateral and regional trade agreements.

In relation to trade and investment in general, it also remains questionable whether the Indonesian business community is willing to conduct a substantial amount of foreign investment in countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, or even the US. Although all the above mentioned countries are considered to be Indonesia's major trading partners, the majority of Indonesian businesses are still inward-looking and depend to a large extent on Indonesia's already large domestic market, with the current total population of 210 million.[14] Moreover, it has been observed that although China would be an attractive market for foreign investments from the ASEAN states, the majority of these investments come from Singapore (Cheng 2004: 270). In 1999 alone, as Cheng further stipulates, Singapore took about 80 percent of total investments amongst ASEAN countries in China, which accounted to about US$ 3.289 billion. Similarly, in 2000 and 2001, although the total investments of ASEAN countries in China dropped slightly to US$ 2.845 billion and US$ 2.987 billion, Singapore still took a major share of total investments in China, or about 76.37 percent and 71.81 percent respectively. The ethnic Chinese business network was partly responsible for the considerable amount of investments that Singapore had in China.[15] An interview conducted with representatives of China, Japan, and Korea[16] also confirms that investments coming from Indonesia to those three countries have been very minimal. Therefore, Indonesia's participation in a number of proposed BTAs might be pointless to pursue.

V. The effects of the proposed BTAs on the Indonesian economy

It is a difficult task to analyse the impact of the proposed BTAs on the Indonesian economy. On the whole, it is rather unclear whether the relatively weak current Indonesian economy is a result of either the economic crisis, Indonesia's commitment in regional trade agreements, or multilateral trade agreements. One thing for sure is that current unemployment is high, whilst the number of people that fall below the poverty line increases. This section analyses the attitude of Indonesian domestic constituents towards the various proposed BTAs that will be conducted between Indonesia and its major trading partners. As mentioned earlier, research interviews were conducted with Indonesian government officials, members of the academic community, business associations, and the representatives of local NGOs / CSOs. Due to the limited time for field research (two months) and the unavailability of respondents to participate in the research interviews, there are some key domestic constituents that had to be left out in this analysis. More specifically, the analysis of each category of respondent will place emphasis on their perspectives on the impacts of the proposed BTAs on domestic industries, agricultural sector and small-scale farmers living in rural areas.

BTAs and Indonesian domestic industries

Domestic industries are the key sectors that will most affected by the implementation of the proposed BTAs between Indonesia and its trading partners. To date, with the exception of the main Indonesian business association, the Chambers of Commerce and Industry (KADIN - Kamar Dagang Indonesia), the majority of business associations and other pressure groups remain sceptical about the participation of Indonesia in this model of trade agreement. On the government side, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (Depperindag - Departemen Perindustrian dan Perdagangan) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Deplu - Departemen Luar Negeri) are the key government offices that deal directly with Indonesia's bilateral trade affairs. Many other trade-related government offices, such as the Ministry of Economic Co-ordination, the Directorate General of Custom and Excise (DGBC - Direktorat Jendral Bea dan Cukai) and the Investment Co-ordinating Board (BKPM - Badan Koordinasi Penanaman Modal), were reluctant to participate in the research interviews due to respondents' personal or formal constraints.[17] Those government officials that were willing to participate in the research interviews gave different answers concerning the readiness of Indonesia's domestic industries to participate in the proposed BTAs between Indonesia and its major trading partners.

In general, key Indonesian government offices that deal directly with the formulation of the Indonesian FEP are supportive towards Indonesia's participation in BTAs. However, these government offices remain cautious towards announcing specific policy concerning BTAs. As stated by an official from the Ministry of Economic Co-ordination, Jennas Hutagalung (2004: 5), during a recent seminar on The Readiness of Indonesia in Facing the Development of FTAs Formation, in Jakarta, the most appropriate approach for Indonesia at the moment is 'to examine and to study further the possibility of conducting FTAs with eight countries, namely Japan, the US, Canada, South Korea, Singapore, China, South Africa, and Timor Leste'. With regard to the possibility of creating a BFTA with the US, for example, Hutagalung pointed out that, at the moment, US exports to ASEAN accounted for only 6 percent of total US exports to the world market. In contrast, ASEAN's exports to the US market reached about 21 percent of the total of ASEAN's exports to the world market. Through the implementation of a BFTA between Indonesia and the US, Indonesia would gain as much as US$ 1.3 billion annually whilst the US would experience a deficit in its trade with Indonesia by as much as US$ 179 billion. Therefore, in the view of this government official, ASEAN needs the US more than the US needs ASEAN.

Meanwhile, officials from other key government offices were also supportive of the proposed BTA deals between Indonesia and its major trading partners. An official from the Deplu, for example, reiterated the importance of maintaining closer economic co-operation within the wider East Asian region for Indonesian development.[18] In the view of this government official, the proposed BTAs between Indonesia and its East Asian counterparts, particularly China, Japan, and South Korea, have great potential for the Indonesian economy. Economic partnership between Indonesia and Japan, for instance, has been relatively close due to the economic complementarity of both economies. China has also emerged as an important new, large market within the world market, especially after its entrance to the WTO. Meanwhile, South Korea, despite its slow progress in developing BTAs with either ASEAN or the individual ASEAN country, still remains a new economic power in the East Asian region. Since the economic crisis of 1997, these three Northeast Asian countries have shown their willingness to promote greater economic co-operation with their Southeast Asian counterparts. As a result, the Indonesian government sees the conduct of annual meetings amongst ministers of all the interested states as crucial in fostering greater co-operation in the East Asian region.

Like his counterpart at the Deplu, the official from the Depperindag also perceived the proposed BTAs between Indonesia and its major trading partners as new challenges and opportunities that should be embraced by Indonesia.[19] However, this government official also recognised the potential negative impacts that this model of trade agreement may bring to Indonesian domestic industries. It is for this reason that the Indonesian government remains cautious about identifying the key domestic sectors to be included in the upcoming BTA negotiations. The official from the Depperindag also stressed that it is rather na ƒÆ’ ¯ve to expect Indonesian domestic industries to compete in the proposed BTAs. He argued that resistance within the domestic industrial sector mainly came from large firms in large industries, such as those in the metal, automotive, and motor industries. Moreover, in his view, the majority of large firms in large industrial sectors are spoiled, supporting the continued protection and incentives given to them by the government. This government official also expressed his confidence that most large firms in large industrial sectors would provide similar responses in ten years to come if they are asked the same question regarding their readiness for trade liberalisation. One thing that needs to be reiterated here is that the Indonesian government remains vigilant towards any possible outcome that these BTA deals may pose towards the continued survival of Indonesian domestic industries.

However, other officials from other government offices were sceptical about the proposed plan to conduct BTAs with Indonesia's major trading partners. An official from the Ministry of Co-operatives, Small and Medium Enterprises (Depkop-UKM - Departemen Koperasi, Usaha Kecil dan Menengah), for example, expressed her concerns about the lack of internal co-ordination amongst government officials and the minimal amount of information disseminated to the public about the government's plan to involve Indonesia in various BTAs.[20] To start with, this government official argued that most comprehensive data and information concerning the competency of the Indonesian domestic sector are only available at the key government offices, such as the Ministry of Economic Co-ordination, Deplu and the Depperindag. The remaining government offices are often left uninformed about the government's specific policy towards the moves to implement BTAs with major trade partners. As a result, the involvement of Indonesia in various free trade deals remains abstract to many government officials. Indonesia's experience in AFTA is a case in point where the key government offices that deal with the formulation of FEPs did not listen to the concerns expressed by other related government offices. Prior to the implementation of AFTA, for example, Depkop-UKM warned the key FEP policy-makers (i.e. those within Deplu and the Depperindag) that the majority of Indonesian domestic industrial sectors were unsure about their ability to compete with their ASEAN counterparts. In this government official's point of view, the free trade deal with China would have had a much more significant impact on the well-being of Indonesia's domestic industrial sectors. In the case of the furniture industry, for example, China is far more able to offer products that are cheaper and of a higher quality than Indonesia. As a result, pushing a free trade deal with China would definitely generate a significant negative impact on the Indonesian furniture industry.

Another government official from the Board of Development Planning Agency (Bappenas - Badan Perencanaan Pembangunan Nasional)[21] was equally sceptical about the Indonesian government's overall plan to pursue an active BTA policy. The respondent believed that Indonesia's domestic agricultural and non-agricultural sectors are not ready to face the upcoming BTAs. There have been few changes in the way the overall bureaucracy has worked since the mid-1990s. From 1995 until 2003, for example, the government has pushed for the tariff elimination process to reach 5-10 percent for most industries. However, it has also failed to promote the development and the competitiveness of the domestic industries to complement the significant drops on tariffs. Although the government has insisted that cheap labour is the key competitive advantage that exists within the Indonesian market, there has been little progress in increasing overall Indonesian productivity.

Moreover, the government official from the Bappenas was also sceptical about the studies conducted by other government offices to assess the impact of the various free trade deals on the Indonesian economy. In the case of the free trade deal with China, for instance, Indonesia lists 573 items under the early harvest programme, 527 items of which are from the agriculture sector whilst the remaining 46 items are from the non-agricultural sectors. The Ministry of Agriculture claims that the 527 listed items are safe to be included in this free trade deal. However, the government official from the Bappenas claimed that the Ministry of Agriculture is rather unclear about the specific definition of and criteria used for the word 'safe' when identifying those agricultural items listed under the aforementioned programme. Furthermore, this official was also pessimist about the overall orientation of the policy-makers in the Depperindag. The Directorate of International Industry and Trade Co-operation at the Depperindag has always insisted that the opening of the Indonesian market through BTAs would also mean the opening of the markets of some of Indonesia's major trading partners. Although this argument is true, the government official from the Bappenas believed that the Depperindag has failed to examine the actual ability of Indonesia's domestic sectors in competing with other countries. On the whole, therefore, the Indonesian government is thought to have been taking a too brave approach in dealing with all the proposed BTAs.

Whilst state actors' perceptions of the impacts of the proposed BTAs towards Indonesian domestic industries were diverse, Indonesian non-state actors were more united in their stance towards the issue. Those in the academic community, such as Dr. Hadi Soesastro,[22] Dr. Marie Pangestu,[23] Prof. Lepi Tarmidi,[24] and Dr. Umar Juoro,[25] were very sceptical about the issue, particularly as the government lacked any clear objective regarding the country's involvement in the proposed BTAs with its major trading partners. Indonesia, after all, can be considered a newcomer to the BTA trend (Soesastro 2004: 2). The Indonesian government has so far been examining this trade policy option as a response to offers made by a number of countries (i.e. Japan and the US) and to the formation of BTAs that involve many ASEAN countries. Indeed, the Indonesian government appears to have been tempted to follow similar approaches adopted by some of its ASEAN neighbours in pursuing BTAs policy, particularly Singapore and Thailand. However, Indonesia remains unable to get involved in such arrangements, not only because of the lack of readiness of the various sectors listed in the proposed arrangements, but also as a result of the inability of Indonesian negotiators to fully represent the economic needs of the Indonesian people. Prof. Tarmidi also added that Indonesia is not only lacking good negotiators but also trained officials capable of handling technical practicalities in the implementation of BTAs. At the moment, key Indonesian government offices handling the practicalities of FTAs, such as the Directorate General of Custom and Excise, remains vulnerable to corrupt practices so that the implementation of BTAs could be irrelevant.

Furthermore, Dr. Soesastro also suggested that the Indonesian government should take immediate action to come up with a clear identification as to which sectors are likely to experience gains or losses under the proposed BTA initiatives as well as the domestic reforms needed to support this policy option. Indeed, as Soesastro (2004: 3-4) writes elsewhere, 'it is often also the case that bilateral or regional FTAs are used to help promote domestic reforms. [For instance,] an agreement with the US could have the greatest effect on Indonesia's economic reform agenda. However, " ¦ the widespread impression that the US is bullying Indonesia could [also] be counterproductive'. Similarly, Dr. Pangestu also stressed that BTA deals that are conducted with larger and wealthier partners would generate limited benefits to Indonesia. In the proposed FTA deal between Indonesia and the US, for example, it is very likely that the US would hit Indonesia on a number of issues that have not been resolved at the multilateral level, such as the intellectual property issue, legal issues, domestic regulations, and services.

Nevertheless, as a keen proponent of regionalism and multilateralism, Dr. Soesastro believed that BTAs are inconsistent with the principle of multilateralism. According to him, BTAs are discriminatory arrangements, and, as such, may have negative impacts on countries that are excluded from the arrangements, but have similar economic structures with one or both country / countries involved in the BTA. Dr. Soesastro also pointed out the importance of distinguishing between a clean agreement and a dirty agreement in international trade. Whilst the former is a full trade liberalisation between the countries involved, the latter refers to an agreement that often excludes sectors that are considered sensitive by the participating countries.[26] The BTA that was concluded between Singapore and Japan in 2002, for example, has so far had little impact on the Indonesian economy due to the similarity of the economic structures of both countries involved in this arrangement. The impact would be much greater if Japan and other ASEAN countries, such as the Philippines and Thailand, both of which have been conducting BFTA negotiations since 2003, concluded similar free trade deals to that of the Japan-Singapore BFTA. In the absence of the Japan-Indonesian BFTA deal, most of Indonesia's exports would face stiffer competition in the Japanese market. Therefore, BFTAs tend to strengthen the economic relationship between two countries (i.e. Japan-Philippines or Japan-Thailand) at the expense of a third country (i.e. Indonesia).

As with members of the academic community, representatives from Indonesian business associations were also rather pessimist about the readiness of Indonesia's domestic industries to deal with any future BTAs made between Indonesian and its major trading partners. In general, all the representatives of the Indonesian business associations interviewed, including the Indonesian Small Business Exporters Consortium (ISBEC),[27] the Association of Indonesian Entrepreneurs (APINDO - Asosiasi Pengusaha Indonesia),[28] and the Indonesian Association of Telematics Software (ASPILUKI - Asosiasi Piranti Lunak Telematika Indonesia),[29] have gradually started to show their support for trade liberalisation, particularly for those free trade deals that would boost Indonesian exports. However, the representatives from the three business associations remained sceptical about whether Indonesia was ready for BTAs. The representatives from these business associations believed that Indonesia still lacks the necessary domestic co-ordination, particularly on the governmental side. According to these respondents, key government offices that are dealing with the proposed BTAs, such as the Deplu and the Depperindag, are themselves confused about choosing the right FEPs for the country. Although there have been some improvements in recent years in the way in which these key government offices involve non-state actors in their decision-making processes, they remain aloof when it comes to the implementation of the policies. All the representatives from the three business associations felt that they had provided the necessary information and data to the key government offices, yet they felt that many of the policies, such as excessive taxes imposed to businesses, created burdens on their business activities.

The representatives from the three aforementioned business associations were also convinced that some Indonesian domestic sectors, such as textile, garment, electronics, and chemicals, were ready to deal with the implementation of any free trade agreements. However, the same respondents argued that it is imperative that the Indonesian government comes up with the right formula in fostering competitiveness and efficiency in domestic industries. To date, for example, the Indonesian government has failed to follow the Malaysian government's suit in protecting its domestic industries whilst being involved in a number of free trade deals. However, rather than demanding protective measures, the respondents believed that the eradication of corrupt practices, illegal smuggling, and other kinds of economic reform are fundamental to the improvement of domestic industrial competitiveness and efficiency. In relation to the proposed BTAs, the respondents from the three business associations also reiterated the importance of choosing the right partners and carefully identifying the sectors to be listed in inclusion lists.

Meanwhile,although KADIN, the largest Indonesian business association, is generally supportive towards the Indonesian government's pursuit of BTA policy, this business association also pinpoints six key problems that need to be tackled by the government to increase domestic industrial competitiveness as well as to attract foreign investments (Kompas 2004a: 14). The six problems identified by KADIN are law supremacy, security stability, tax reform, labour issues, provincial autonomy, and infrastructure. Recent survey conducted by this business association also reveals that poor infrastructure causes US$ 26 million losses in Indonesia. There are also a number of tax policies that are not supportive enough to the local businesses. The value added taxes on certain strategic commodities, for example, are still considered extremely high by KADIN. In the absence of efforts from the government to manage those aforementioned problems, it is likely that the Indonesian local industries will be unable to compete with industries in other countries.

As with most of the other respondents, the majority of representatives from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or civil society organisation (CSOs) were also sceptical about their country readiness to face the implementation of BTAs.[30] The majority of the representatives from NGOs and CSOs underlined the danger that Indonesia may encounter through its participation in BTAs. Aside from general concerns about the impact of trade liberalisation on the well-being of the Indonesian general public, they were worried about the government's lack of clear objectives that might render pursuing a BTA policy ineffective. Prior to agreeing to any free trade deals, most representatives of Indonesian NGOs and CSOs wanted the key Indonesian government offices to clearly identify the weak and strong industrial sectors that would have to deal directly with all FTAs. Such information is necessary for Indonesian delegates who are negotiating free trade deals with Indonesia's major trade partners. After all, as pointed by the majority of representatives from Indonesian NGOs and CSOs, the economic sovereignty and the well-being of the Indonesia people are at stake in these negotiations. Some representatives from the Indonesian NGOs / CSOs also felt that it would be necessary to restructure the domestic economic regime as well as the process of FEP decision-making. To date, international organisations, such as the WTO, IMF, and the World Bank are still dictating the conduct of Indonesian FEPs. Representatives from NGOs / CSOs also believed in the necessity of creating pressure on the government from a grassroots level that involves civil society groups. It was felt that it was up to civil society groups to identify and propose alternatives to the government rather than merely reacting to policies already issued as they had done in the past. Thus, for the majority of Indonesian NGOs / CSOs, there was a need to push for reforms in the way in which both state and non-state actors operate prior to committing further to any trade liberalisation deals.

Moreover, as with other non-state actors, the majority of representatives from Indonesian NGOs / CSOs also concurred on the need to identify the right trade partners. Amongst the proposed BTA deals that the Indonesian government wishes to pursue, the BTA deal with China is perceived as the most threatening by the majority of respondents in this category. Key government offices, such as Depperindag and Deplu, have been arguing that China is a big market and a BTA deal with this country would enhance Indonesia's exports to the Chinese market. The majority of Indonesian NGOs / CSOs did not disagree with this line of argument, but they were suspicious that the Chinese market would be a large market for illegal smuggling from Indonesia, such as illegal logging, fishing, and so on. China is also seen as a threat because most Chinese products exported to Indonesia were competing with products already produced in Indonesia. Although the quality of many Chinese products may not match the quality of Indonesian products, the fact that Chinese producers are willing to sell their products at lower prices scared many representatives of Indonesian NGOs / CSOs. Even before the implementation of any BTA deal with China, the Indonesian market has already been flooded by Chinese products. The Indonesian market has been flooded by textiles, medicines, motorcycles, etc, from China since the mid-1990s. The same also applies to the current bilateral economic relations between the two countries. In the furniture industry, for example, although Indonesian exports show significant improvements from US$ 1.4 billion in 2002 to US$ 1.6 billion in 2004, the Indonesian furniture market is still controlled by the import of furniture from China.[31] The implementation of a BTA deal with China, therefore, would further damage Indonesian domestic industrial sectors. In contrast, however, BTA deals with both Japan and South Korea were perceived as less damaging than deals with China. The majority of representatives from Indonesian NGOs / CSOs believed that Indonesia still needs technological expertise from both Japan and South Korea. However, they felt that the Indonesian government needed to take firm action to ensure that Indonesia does not become a consumer market only. As a result, prior to implementing any BTA with either Japan and South Korea, it was seen as imperative that Japan and South Korea should support Indonesia in developing its own technological expertise.

BTAs and the Indonesian agricultural sector, food security, and rural development

BTAs and the Indonesian agricultural sector, food security, and rural development

Table 4. Indonesia's tariffs and non-oil / gas trade (1994-1999)

Product Description (SITC Code)

Average tariffs



Change in trade surplus 1994-99







Net change



(US$ million)


(US$ million)

Annual growth



(US$ million)


(US$ million)

Annual growth (%)













Rubber (23)











Fish / shrimp (03)











Coffee, tea, cocoa, spices (07)











Vegetable oils (40,42,43)











Fruits / Vegetables (05)











Beverages / tobacco (11, 12)











Animal feed (08)











Cereal & preparations (04)











Sugar & preparations (06)











Other (00, 01, 02, 09, 21, 22, 29, 41)






















Mining / minerals











Other manufacture






















Source: Magiera (2000)

The impacts of trade liberalisation on the agriculture sector, food security and rural development are other key issues that need to be assessed by the Indonesian government prior to pursuing any BTA policies. Indonesia is, after all, an agrarian country, with the majority of its population, or about 75 percent, living in rural areas. The agriculture sector alone absorbs about 44 percent of total employment, whilst contributing, along with forestry and fisheries, to around 17 percent of total GDP, which makes it one of the key sectors in the Indonesian economy. Various academics have assessed the impacts of trade liberalisation on the Indonesian agricultural sector. In their analysis of the impact of APEC trade liberalisation on the Indonesian agricultural sector, for example, Oktaviani and Drynan (2000) found that Indonesia benefits from participating in trade liberalisation, even if other APEC developing member countries do not participate. Feridhanustyawan and Pangestu (2000: 30) provide a similar line of analysis, arguing that Indonesia's commitment to the Uruguay Round forces the removal of domestic distortions in agriculture, which, consequently, increases Indonesia's welfare overall. Feridhanusetyawan and Pangestu are also optimistic that AFTA will increase Indonesia's potential as a major producer of agricultural commodities ASEAN (p. 31). Other studies, such as those conducted by Stephenson and Erwidodo (1995) and Anderson and Strutt (1999), suggest that Indonesia will suffer a loss in export competitiveness and a decline in net social welfare if it fails to pursue trade deregulation measures similar to those of its trading partners.

Table 5. Indonesian agriculture and food trade
(annual averages)

US$ million per annum

Per annum growth rates




Net Exports








1984-1986 (A)







1989-1991 (B)







1994-1996 (C)







1998-2000 (D)







Period A to C







Period C to D






Source: FAO official website (accessed on September 2004)

On the contrary, those who oppose trade liberalisation are pessimistic about Indonesia's participation in international trade liberalisation. In the view of Setiawan (2003: 67-8), for example, the involvement of Indonesia in the Agreement on Agriculture (AOA) gave way to a radical liberalisation process in the Indonesian agricultural sector. By committing to such an agreement, the Indonesian government renders the Indonesian farmer and the country's agricultural system vulnerable to the market. In other words, the strong wins whilst the weak losses. The weak is no other than Indonesian small farmers. As Setiawan further notes, the value of Indonesian agricultural imports to date reaches around US$ 1.3 billion. Moreover, Indonesia's imports on agricultural and food products have been significantly increased as a result of the country's tariff reduction commitment (refer to table 4 and table 5). During the 1984-1986, Indonesia's agricultural imports accounted to US$ 985 million, whilst its imports on food products were accounted to US$ 589 million. By the end of 2000, Indonesia's import value rose to US$ 4,145 for agricultural products and US$ 2,901 for food products. This is simply an indication that the Indonesian market is increasingly controlled by foreign agricultural products. Other sceptics, such as Hidayat (2002), also point out that the majority of available studies on the readiness of the Indonesian agricultural sector to face trade liberalisation appear optimistic on paper. However, the economic crisis of 1997 and Indonesia's participation in various trade liberalisation measures under the WTO, AFTA, and APEC make Indonesia less well equipped to deal with the negative impacts of free trade. Both the Indonesian economic structure and its infrastructure are not yet compatible with a trade system that has little control over the flow of goods and services across borders.

On the whole, there are three issues that need to be addressed in the current analysis of the probable impacts that proposed BTAs may have on small farmers, which include (1) food sovereignty, (2) the overall competitiveness and efficiency of the Indonesian agricultural sector, and (3) the way in which the losers (or, in this case, small farmers) are compensated. To start with, food sovereignty can be generally referred to as the right of the people to define their food and agriculture (Via Campesina 2003). In recent years, food supply in Indonesia has not matched expectations. The economic crisis of 1997, along with the stringent measures imposed by the IMF and the World Bank, has pushed the Indonesian government to undertake massive policy reforms in the agricultural sector. Amongst other things, these reforms include: (1) the elimination of import monopoly over wheat, wheat flour, sugar, soybeans, garlic, and rice by the National Logistic Agency (Bulog - Badan Urusan Logistik), (2) the reduction of tariff rates on all food items to a maximum of 5 percent and the abolishment of the local content regulations, (3) the removal of restrictive trade and marketing arrangement for several commodities, such as rice, corn, eggs, soya, dried fish, flour, sugar, salt, and oil, (4) the deregulation of trade across district and provincial boundaries, particularly for cloves, oranges, and livestock (Erwidado and Ratnawati 2004: 13). The opening up of and the deregulation process within the agricultural sector have meant that the Indonesian poor cannot keep up with the rapid price increase in essential commodities (Arifin et al. 2001: 7), thus diminishing levels of food sovereignty amongst the Indonesian people. Indeed, although Indonesia maintains relatively high tariffs on certain agricultural commodities, such as rice, meat, sugar, and several types of fruit and vegetables, the Indonesian government has more or less agreed to introduce tariff reduction measures to the agricultural sector. Despite its relatively high tariff level on rice (about 30 percent), for example, Indonesia has become one of the major rice importers in the world. Certain forms of trade liberalisation have, to date, undermined Indonesian food sovereignty.

Source: Central Bureau of Statistics, various data

Another key issue is the overall competitiveness and efficiency of the Indonesian agricultural sector. It has been said that the future direction of Indonesian agricultural and rural development is dependent, inter alia, on the Indonesian government's commitment towards market-oriented policy that promotes efficiency and competitiveness (Suryana and Erwidodo 1996). However, poverty remains the key problem for the government to address prior to promoting efficiency and competitiveness amongst Indonesian farmers. Recent data from the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS - Biro Pusat Statistik), for example, reveals that an increasing number of Indonesians are living under the poverty line. By 2004, there were as many as 37.3 million people living under the poverty line, which accounts for around 17.4 percent of the total Indonesian population (refer to fig. 3). About 20.32 percent of people live under the poverty line in rural areas, and about 13.57 percent in urban areas.[32] The impact of trade liberalisation on the well-being of small farmers is clearly highlighted by the plight of rice farmers. The opening up of the Indonesian agricultural sector has led to the depreciation of the value of local rice, which directly hit small farmers.[33] In the absence of efforts to eradicate the severe problems of poverty amongst small farmers in rural areas, it is very unlikely that the government will be able to promote so-called competitiveness and efficiency amongst Indonesian small farmers. After all, the poor are more concerned about how they feed themselves than about empty economic jargons bandied about by the government and academics.

However, if the Indonesian government wishes to pursue its BTA policy then it is important to examine the way in which the losers are compensated. In other words, who will feed those small farmers who have suffered from the process of economic liberalisation? As mentioned earlier, to date, the opening up of the Indonesian market has so far led to a drop in certain agricultural products. Small farmers unable to keep up with the increased competition from agricultural products coming from abroad are forced to face bankruptcy. Depending on the content of the agreement, BTAs tend to accelerate the process of trade liberalisation. As a result, this form of trade agreement is likely to increase the level of unemployment in the Indonesian agricultural sector. This is one key issue that the government fails to address when preparing the blueprint for Indonesian FEP and the development of BTAs.

Despite the overall commitment of the Indonesian government to pursue an open economic policy, state and non-state actors alike have expressed their concerns on the impacts that this trade policy may bring to the well-being of small farmers living in rural areas. In line with viewpoints on the readiness of the Indonesian domestic industrial sector, those representing government offices also hold contrasting points of views regarding the impact that the proposed BTAs may have on Indonesian small farmers.[34] Whilst the representatives from key government offices, such as the Deplu and the Depperindag, were relatively positive and optimist about the issue,[35] those representing Depkop-UKM and Bappenas felt that the situation should be fully assessed prior to the implementation of the proposed BTAs. The representatives from both the Depkop-UKM and Bappenas, for instance, were concerned about the issue of food sovereignty and the actual ability of Indonesian small farmers to compete with their foreign counterparts. The Indonesian government is perceived by these government officials as rather irrational when making decisions on food sovereignty. In their analysis, Indonesia should follow Japan's example. The Japanese government has been able to provide significant protection to its agricultural sector so that the Japanese market would not become too dependent on agricultural products from abroad. Moreover, the government official from the Depkop-UKM also added that nationalism is the only reason that some Indonesian consumers purchase local agricultural products. However, she believed that this situation would be short-lived as the entrance of foreign agricultural products drives the prices down in the local agricultural market. Local Indonesian oranges, such as those coming from Pontianak, Kalimantan, were recently priced at between Rp. 8,000 -Rp. 10,000 per kilogramme, whilst better tasting, better quality oranges from foreign countries are priced at about Rp. 5,000 per kilogramme. The issue is not that Indonesian agricultural products cannot compete in terms of quality with foreign agricultural products, but that small Indonesian farmers have no means by which to promote their products to consumers. Indonesian small farmers are indeed able to offer better quality products since they use, for example, less pesticides and chemicals commonly found in foreign agricultural products. Nevertheless, financial constraints make it impossible for Indonesian small farmers to campaign about this issue to consumers.

Unlike representatives from Indonesian government offices, members of the academic community were still unsure if both the Indonesian government and its potential BTA partners would be willing to initiate negotiations concerning the agricultural sector. According to Dr. Soesastro and Dr. Pangestu, for example, Indonesia is not the only country concerned with the impacts that the proposed BTAs may have on the well-being of small farmers. Similar concerns are shared by Indonesia's potential BTA partners, such as Japan and China. The export of Indonesian palm oil, for example, still faces various non-tariff barriers from China. The Indonesian government is recently also reported to have agree on the implementation of a BTA with Japan only if the latter is willing to open up its agricultural sector.[36] According to Prof. Tarmidi and Dr. Juoro, on the other hand, although the proposed BTAs would have a significant impact on Indonesian food sovereignty, there would be little direct impact as this trade regime deals only with trade and investment in the industrial sectors. Despite this, however, Prof. Tarmidi and Juoro argued that the successful implementation of the proposed BTAs between Indonesia and its major trading partners greatly depend on the ability of Indonesian officials, particularly those from the Custom and Excise office, to deal with illegal smuggling. During the interview, Prof. Tarmidi quoted recent data from the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) that highlights Indonesia as a key producer of rice in the world today. Therefore, theoretically, in the absence of illegal smuggling, which some argue can be eliminated through the lowering of trade barriers, Indonesian rice farmers would be able to compete with their foreign counterparts.

Meanwhile, other Indonesian non-state actors felt that the proposed BTAs would not increase the well-being of Indonesian small farmers. To start with, as the representative from the Indonesian Consumer Group (YLKI) stipulated, the issue of food sovereignty is used like a slogan by the Indonesian government and non-state actors alike. However, there have been few detailed analyses of the impact of trade liberalisation on food sovereignty. In the past, the Indonesian government introduced a number of initiatives to promote the enhancement of alternative plantations, such as peat moss, under the banner of food sovereignty. To date, however, there are few progress reports provided by the government about many of these initiatives. Other non-state actors also argued that foreign investments and the taking over of land owned by local farmers by large multinational corporations prevailed even in the absence of BTAs. Indonesian farmers are still considered to be commodities whose products are exported to the host countries of multinational corporations. To date, Indonesia still lacks the necessary technology and expertise to compete with its major trading partners. If the government insists on pursuing BTA policy with its major trading partners, it is likely that Indonesians will be increasingly exposed to foreign products, and Indonesia will be the consumer market for its major trading partners. It is, therefore, imperative that the proposed BTAs between Indonesia and its major trading partners are rejected until Indonesia is fully prepared.

VI. Policy proposals and recommendations

Bilateral trade agreements are now on the rise and are taking a major role in increasing the pace of trade liberalisation in the global economy today. As with most governments in the East Asian region, the Indonesian government is increasingly tempted to pursue this type of trade agreement. Amongst some of the key reasons that the Indonesian government use to persuade its domestic constituents to agree to its BTA policy are the difficulties that arise in negotiations within the WTO, the increasing use of this type of trade agreement by Indonesia's neighbouring countries, and the way in which such trade agreements might foster co-operation within the East Asian, if not Asia-Pacific, region. However, it remains questionable whether Indonesia's participation in such trade agreements will produce such positive results for Indonesian domestic industries and the well-being of small farmers. The attitude of the majority of Indonesian domestic constituents to date remains sceptical of this type of agreement. One must bear in mind that BTAs create specific obligations on a range of issues, from trade and investment regimes, as well as intellectual property rights. Moreover, BTAs have the tendency to accelerate global trade liberalisation, which involves deeper and more comprehensive commitments than those agreed to within the WTO. It is, therefore, imperative that the Indonesian government takes an extremely cautious approach in dealing with various proposals to create BTAs with its major trade partners.

This paper has discussed the perspectives of Indonesian state and non-state actors towards Indonesia's participation in various BTAs proposed with its major trading partners. To date, only key government offices that deal directly with BTA issues, such as the Deplu and the Depperindag, are key proponents of Indonesia's BTA policy. Other Indonesian state and non-state actors, hold that the current domestic economic condition in Indonesia, such as the absence of stable law and order in regulating trade and investment regimes, makes this country incapable of committing itself to this type of agreement.

The recommendations and policy proposals provided in this paper are based on the concerns expressed by the majority of the Indonesian domestic constituents interviewed. Firstly, the Indonesian government should make sure that any decisions to conduct BTAs with the country's major trading partners should not merely be an imitation of the policy pursued by Indonesia's neighbouring countries, such as Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, and Malaysia. Close geographical sense does not necessarily mean that Indonesia has the same needs and problems as its neighbouring countries. The Indonesian government must ask itself whether such trade agreements would really generate fruitful results to the overall Indonesian economy.

Secondly, even if bilateral free trade policy is pursued, the Indonesian government must carefully select the right trade partner. Amongst some of the proposed BTAs that Indonesia might be involved in, those with China and the US would be the most dangerous. The flood of goods from China is already on the rise even in the absence of a BTA between China and Indonesia. The Chinese government has always insisted that Indonesia has been experiencing a trade surplus in its trade with China since the normalisation of the relationship between the two countries in the early 1990s. The proposed BTA between the two countries is hoped to increase Indonesia's exports to China or to create a balance in the bilateral trade between the two countries. Logically speaking, however, given the already excessive number of Indonesian exports to the Chinese market, it does not make any real sense to pursue a BTA with China. After all, with or without a BTA, China will continue to require assistance from Indonesia to meet its industrial needs. Furthermore, bilateral trade liberalisation with the US would also undermine the position of the Indonesian government in the WTO, particularly on issues related to the environment and intellectual property rights. It seems likely that the US would want to include issues that have been omitted at the multilateral level in future BTA talks with Indonesia. The same also applies to other proposed bilateral trade agreements with Japan and South Korea. Indonesia has been experiencing a trade surplus and has no immediate need to accelerate trade liberalisation with these two countries.

Thirdly, it is also important to stress that an excessive emphasis on BTA policy will undermine Indonesia's overall FEP. In general, the priorities within Indonesia's foreign policy are the other member countries of ASEAN, the non-aligned movement (NAM), and the West (Smith 2000). Indonesia is already committed to regional economic integration with other Southeast Asian countries under the auspices of AFTA. The Indonesian government has promised that this regional trade liberalisation will be a learning process for Indonesia prior to committing further to other forms of trade liberalisation. Although AFTA has already progressed towards its final stage, this trade liberalisation scheme is not yet fully operational (Indonesia, as one of the original member countries, is scheduled to enter the final stage of AFTA by 2008). It would be a much wiser step if the Indonesian government waited until AFTA is fully finalised and has produced more concrete results before making further bilateral trade commitments.

Fourthly, Indonesian domestic industrial and agricultural sectors are still behind in terms of competitiveness and efficiency, and lack the necessary infrastructure to support the proposed BTAs its major trading partners. There are numerous problems that the Indonesian government has to deal with before making further commitments at the international level. It is very unlikely that Indonesia will achieve a sustainable level of competitiveness and efficiency in the absence of stable laws and regulations. The government must examine ways in which it could promote the competitiveness and efficiency of small agricultural farmers in the face of severe poverty, high unemployment, and hunger. In the event that the Indonesian government remains committed to the conduct of this type of policy, incentives are needed to increase the level of efficiency and competitiveness of the domestic industrial and agricultural sectors. Such incentives, for example, can be made in the tax system as well as in the reform of existing labour laws and provincial regulations. In the absence of such domestic reforms, BTA policy is unlikely to contribute to the development of the Indonesian industrial and agricultural sectors.

Fifthly, an insistence on pursuing a BTA policy would also create more confusion for custom officials working at the border areas. Indonesian custom officials are confused enough with Indonesia's overlapping commitments in AFTA, APEC, and the WTO. Moreover, in contrast to the prediction that free trade will stop smuggling, the confusion generated by such overlapping memberships will actually maintain or increase the level of illegal smuggling at the border areas. This is also one key issue that needs to be addressed if the government insists on pursuing this type of trade policy. One can imagine how complicated it would be if Indonesia conducted a BTA with, lets say, every country in the Asia-Pacific region.

It might be that the best path of all for the Indonesian government to follow would be to reject BTAs. Such free trade deals are hidden tools that are used to secure the privileges and the wealth of large multinational corporations and to advance the interests of powerful governments. After all, one needs to examine the ways in which such free trade deals serve the actual needs and interests of the Indonesian public. To date, the Indonesian government has proved unable to identify clearly the actual needs and interests of its domestic constituents. If the government wishes to continue to pursue this type of trade policy, it is imperative that containment measures based on the issues addressed above should be introduced.


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Oktaviani, R., and R. Drynan (2000), The Impact of APEC Trade Liberalisation on the Indonesian Econmy and Agricultural Sector, a Paper presented at the Third Annual Conference on Global Economic Analysis, 18th - 30th June, available online from the Bogor Agricultural Instititue official website at: www.mma.ipb.ac.id/downloads/pub/dases16.pdf

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[1] ASEAN is a regional organisation that was formed in 1967. The organisation is currently made up of ten Southeast Asian countries, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, Vietnam, Burma, Cambodia, and Laos.

[2] These are the updated figures from the last WTO (2000) report.

[3] The OCT is made up of Greenland, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, French Southern and Antartic Territories, Wallis and Futuna Island, Moyotte, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Aruba, Netherlands Antilles, Anguila, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, South Georgia, South Sandwich Island, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena, Ascension Island, Tristan da Cunha, Turks and Caicos Islands, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, and British Virgin Islands.

[4] The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) which was formed on the 3rd May 1960, included Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. Iceland was admitted into the grouping ten years later, or on 3rd March 1970.

[5] Based on the data provided by the ASEAN Secretariat (2003)

[6] An interview was conducted by the author with Tan Weiwen, the Economic Counsellor of the Republic of China Embassy, on 30th July 2004, in Jakarta.

[7] An interview was conducted by the author with Michihiro Kishimoto, First Secretary Commercial of the Japanese Embassy, on 28th July 2004, in Jakarta.

[8] As quoted in Eng (2004: 60).

[9] See, for example, Palmer (1991), Hettne et al. (1999), Hettne and S ƒÆ’ ¶derbaum (2000) and Schulz et al. (2001).

[10] ASEM is comprised of ten Asian nations, fifteen European nations, and the European Commission. The prime motive for this meeting grew from the recognition of the need to strengthen the linkage between Europe and Asia. The first meeting was held on 1-2 March 1996, in Bangkok, and was followed up in London, on 3-4 April1998. Prior to the creation of ASEM, however, both Southeast Asia and countries of the then European Community (EC) had a long-standing partnership, and such a relationship has been regarded as a model for a group-to-group inter-regionalism (Lukas 1989; Mols 1990). Although ASEM has different, even conflicting, agendas to other regional groupings that ASEAN countries are involved in, such as APEC, both forums allow the East Asian policy makers to consolidate political and economic communication with North America via APEC and the EU via ASEM (Higgot 1999: 194). Further information on the background to ASEM's creation can also be found at the ASEM official website (accessed 2004) at: http://asem.inter.net.th/asem-info/background.html

[11] See also Business Indonesia (2004a).

[12] Quoted from the official website of the US Embassy in Jakarta (2000): http://www.usembassyjakarta.org/econ/invest/investment2000-2.html#A1

[13] As quoted in Waslin (2003: 10).

[14] For an analysis of the attitude of the Indonesian business community see also Anwar (1994) and Chandra (2004).

[15] See also Dajin Peng (2002) for an analysis on the contribution of the ethnic Chinese business networks towards the institutionalisation of economic integration.

[16] An interview was conducted by the author with the Economic Officer of the Korean Embassy who wished to remain anonymous, on 4th August 2004, in Jakarta.

[17] Despite this, the researcher was able to examine the views of some representatives of these related government offices through a number of seminars or conferences organised by the Indonesian government.

[18] An interview was conducted with Bambang Guritno, Director of the Directorate of ASEAN Co-operation, on 22nd July 2004, in Jakarta.

[19] An interview was conducted by the author with Ansari Buchori, Secretary of the Directorate General for Metal, Machine, Electronics, and Miscellaneous Industries, on 3rd August 2004, in Jakarta.

[20] An interview was conducted by the author with Sri Ernawati, Expert Ministerial Staff on International Relations, on 5th August 2004, in Jakarta.

[21] An interview was conducted with Dr. Luky Eko Wuryanto, Director of the Directorate of Industry, Trade, and Tourism, on 30th July 2004, in Jakarta.

[22] The interview with Dr. Hadi Soesastro was conducted by the author on the 23 rd July 2004. At the time of the interview Dr. Soesastro held the position of Executive Director of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

[23] The Interview with Dr. Mari Pangestu was conducted by the author on 9th August 2004, in Jakarta. At the time of the interview Dr. Pangestu held the position of Senior Researcher at the CSIS.

[24] The interview with Prof. Lepi Tarmidi was conducted by the author on the 19 th July 2004, in Jakarta. At the time of the interview Prof. Tarmidi held the position of the Director of the APEC Study Centre at the University of Indonesia.

[25] The interview with Dr. Umar Juoro was conducted by the author on the 25 th August 2004, in Jakarta. At the time of the interview Dr. Juoro held the position of Senior Fellow at the Habibie Centre.

[26] However, Article XXIV of GATT also stipulates that two or more countries may create an FTA or a custom union if the agreement substantially involves all sectors and does not discriminate against a third party. Even when there are sensitive products in the FTA or custom union, it is imperative that these sensitive items are transferred into the inclusion list within a reasonable time period. For further details on Article XXIV of GATT, visit the WTO official website (accessed on August 2004) at: http://www.wto.org/english/docs_e/legal_e/gatt47_02_e.htm#articleXXIV

[27] An interview was conducted by the author with the Chairman of ISBEC, Dr. Erwin Elias, on the 2nd August 2004, in Jakarta.

[28] An interview was conducted by the author with the Chairman of APINDO, Dr. Sofjan Wanandi, on the 10th August 2004, in Jakarta.

[29] An interview was conducted by the author with the Chairman of ASPILUKI, Teddy Sukardi, on the 10th August 2004, in Jakarta.

[30] The researcher conducted interviews with (the) representatives from eight different Indonesian NGOs / CSOs, which included: (1) Riza Tjahjadi, National Co-ordinator, Pesticide Action Network (PAN), 21st July 2004, in Jakarta; (2) Wardah Hafidz, Co-ordinator, Urban Poor Centre (UPC), 22nd July 2004, in Jakarta; (3) Sumyaryo Sumiskun, Director, The Assemblage of Indonesian Fishermen (HNSI - Himpunan Nelayan Seluruh Indonesia); (4) Farah Sofa, International Corporate Campaign Co-ordinator, Indonesian Friends of the Earth (Walhi - Wahana Lingkungan Hidup), 23rd July 2004, in Jakarta; (5) Hikayat Atika Karwa, Federation of Labour Union on Metals, Electronics, and Machinery (FSP-LEM - Federasi Serikat Pekerja Logal, Elektronik, dan Mesin); (6) Indah Sukmaningsih, Director, Indonesian Consumer Group (YLKI - Yayasan Lembaga Konsumen Indonesia), 29th July 2004, in Jakarta; (7) Yopie Handjaja, Uni Social Democrat (Unisosdem - Uni Sosial Demokrat), 4th August 2004, in Jakarta; (8) Setiono, Director, Labour Union for Jakarta, Bogor, Tangerang, and Bekasi (SBJ - Serikat Buruh Jabotabek (Jakarta, Bogor, Tangerang, and Bekasi), 4th August 2004, in Jakarta.

[31] As reported in Kompas (2004b), or visit Kompas official website at: http://www.kompas.com/kompas-cetak/0403/08/ekonomi/897870.htm

[32] As reported in the Pikiran Rakyat (2004), or visit the official website of Pikiran Rakyat at: http://www.pikiran-rakyat.com/cetak/0404/30/06a02.htm

[33] As reported in the Kompas (2004c), or visit the official website of Kompas at: http://www.kompas.com/kompas-cetak/0407/27/ekonomi/1169843.htm

[34] Unfortunately, the researcher was unable to conduct research interviews with the representative of the Ministry of Agriculture. The individual contacted by the researcher from this Ministry claimed that BTA issues were mainly the affairs of the Depperindag. As a result, the researcher was advised to discuss this matter directly with the appropriate staff in the Depperindag.

[35] In a recently published report about the Indonesia's economic upturn, the Depperindag (2003: 5) also stipulates that the Indonesian "government's focus in agricultural policy will be to maintain food security and promote efficient production, processing, and marketing of agricultural products. A key aim of Indonesia's rice policy framework will be to ensure food security by promoting competition in this sector. " The government of Indonesia will continue to liberalize fertilizer market by permitting general importers to engage in trade and opening domestic market to new participants. Therefore, it is clear that the Indonesian government's agricultural regime is determined by policies that are in harmony with general trade liberalisation.

[36] As reported in the Kompas (2004d), or visit the official website of Kompas at: www.kompas.com/kompas-cetak/0408/26/ekonomi/1231035.htm


BWIs, IFIs, FTAs and MDGs: WMDs for the TNCs: Monkey-Wrenching the Globalization Gang
Author: Aziz Choudry
I went to Bretton Woods, but all I got was this lousy t-shirt. Amazingly, it's not a "one size fits all" and it's not full of holes.

Walking through the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods two years ago, in the New Hampshire mountain resort and official birthplace, in July 1944, of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and of plans for an international trade organization - eventually embodied by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)/World Trade Organization (WTO), I thought about the genocide of Indigenous Peoples in that part of the USA, now called "New England", perpetrated by Puritans and other settlers who viewed them, as historian Douglas Leach put it, as a "graceless and savage people, dirty and slothful in their personal habits, treacherous in their relations with the superior race" ¦fit only to be pushed aside and subordinated"[i].

Neoliberalism and Colonialism

Fast forward a few centuries, and this colonizing mindset and racist contempt still underpins contemporary forms of subjugation, exploitation and dispossession against peoples of the Third World as well as Indigenous Peoples and racialized communities in the global North. It lives on at the G8, in the neoliberal policies of the Bretton Woods institutions, and powerful Northern governments like the US and the European Union, in aid arrangements and debt, in free trade and investment agreements, multilateral, regional and bilateral, and the activities of transnational corporations. 21st century imperialism is frequently masked in the language of development, 'good governance', 'working for a world free of poverty'[ii], 'fighting poverty in Asia and the Pacific'[iii] 'countering terror with trade'[iv] and 'building freedom through trade'[v]. They might call it market capitalism, economic reforms and free trade instead of Manifest Destiny (though this may be news to the Bush Administration as it wages its wars and occupations), but the song remains the same.

''''Colonialism is a big event that economists have not talked about,[vi]" MIT professor of economics and current winner of the John Bates Clark Medal, awarded by the American Economic Association to the US''s top economist under 40, Daron Acemoglu told the Boston Globe last month. ''''Historians talk about it. Political scientists talk about it. But economists just focus on the last 50 years."

When we discuss 'policy coherence' in the era of global neoliberal economics we should acknowledge the colonial roots of neoliberalism. In this supposedly 'post-colonial' world, colonial relations and geohistorical location continue to shape the reality of who eats, and who doesn't, who has freedom, and who doesn't, who has access to land and water, and who doesn't, who can work in dignity and justice, and who doesn't, who carries the burden of crippling debt, and who doesn't, who has the right to determine their own futures, and who doesn't.

When we hear 'policy coherence' talk, we should ask: coherent for whom and with what? The programmes of the IMF, World Bank and WTO fundamentally fail to cohere with development options which carve a different path than market capitalism. Indeed, they work to crush them, to shrink policy space and to prevent future governments from even thinking about alternatives. They are incoherent with peoples' struggles for justice, dignity and self-determination. Behind sustainable development and pro-poor rhetoric, these institutions' policies are utterly incoherent with socially and ecologically just development. 'Policy coherence' is a euphemism for imperialist globalization and expanded opportunities for domination by Northern governments and corporations.

There is definitely 'policy coherence' between colonization and neoliberalism. As activists, social movements and NGOs, we must name and confront the systems of capitalism and colonialism in our analyses and actions, if we are to put forward coherent agendas of resistance, and effectively struggle for justice, locally and globally.

Policy coherence: Singing from the same neoliberal songbook

Almost every few weeks, another high-level statement calls for greater coherence between the Bretton Woods institutions, the WTO, the UN, the baby banks, bilateral donors and so on. This coherence agenda means support for the Doha work programme of the WTO - liberalization in goods, services, investment, trade-related capacity-building, improving global financial stability through capital account liberalization (didn't that work well in Thailand and Korea in the 1990s![7]) and channelling increased investment to developing countries and assisting borrower countries to improve coherence in their national policies.

In 2001, L. Alan Winters, (Director of the World Bank's Development Research Group, Economic Professor at University of Sussex, and advisor to numerous international organizations on trade and development including the WTO, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the InterAmerican Development Bank (IADB), the European Commission and UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) wrote[vii]: "The WTO and the BWOs are already rather highly coherent. All subscribe to basically the same model of society and the economy, favouring markets over direction, advocating transparency and predictability, seeing international trade and investment as routes to prosperity and peace, accepting the importance of development and poverty alleviation, and recognizing the possibility that adjustment is painful. Hence much of what the three bodies do is mutually supportive, and incoherence is mostly just a matter of detail. This is not the impression one would get from some of the rhetoric behind calls for coherence." This does not mean that there are not differences among these organizations in areas where they have jurisdictional overlap, especially in relation to financial liberalization.

Besides shared commitment to neoliberalism, the WTO, IMF and World Bank have formal relationships to achieve 'policy coherence'. The Ministerial Declaration on the Contribution of the [World] Trade Organization to Achieving Greater Coherence in Global Economic Policymaking, in the Uruguay Round Act 1994, Part III.2[viii] urged the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO to follow "consistent and mutually supportive policies" ¦with a view to achieving greater coherence in global economic policymaking." This is expressed in various agreements, ministerial declarations and decisions between the institutions. In May 2003, senior officials of the three institutions, including IMF Managing Director Horst Koehler, WTO Director General Supachai Panitchpakdi and World Bank President James Wolfensohn met in Geneva under the umbrella of the WTO General Council to develop a common approach to global economic policies - the "coherence agenda."[ix].

The IMF and World Bank offer "technical assistance" and loans for adjusting debtor countries' economies to full trade and investment liberalization. "Technical assistance" sounds benign enough. In reality it means coercing countries of the South to swallow more neoliberal medicine, sometimes in sectors over which they have been disputing further liberalization at the WTO. World Bank and IMF loan conditionalities generally insist that governments lower or eliminate tariffs, remove restrictions on foreign investment, modify customs procedures, fiscal and labour regulations and procurement policies, and promote private sector ownership. Privatization, deregulation and trade and investment liberalization have been core to Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) and the so-called Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) which the World Bank and IMF now insist countries adopt in order to receive continued loans. Former World Bank chief economist and US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers claimed in 1998: "IMF and" ¦World Bank programs not just in East Asia but in India, Latin America, Central Europe and Africa, have led to more systematic trade liberalization than" ¦bilateral or multilateral negotiations have ever achieved."[x]

Amid much official rhetoric about trade replacing aid to move people out of poverty comes more explicit aid-for-trade liberalization, (and, as we have seen with the recent G8 finance ministers' debt reduction package, 'debt relief' for enforced liberalization and privatization) deals. The World Bank is increasingly concentrating its resources on trade-related operations, particularly towards least-developed countries (LDCs), transition economies and those in the process of WTO accession. The Bank is allocating more funds to trade-related activities in 2004-2006 than it did during the eight years from 1996-2003. Total trade lending over the next three years is nearly US $4 billion compared with just over $2 billion in the past 8 years[xi]. Lending for trade facilitation is increasing from $300 million over the past 8 years to a projected $1 billion over the next 3 years[xii]. Meanwhile the Bank leads the joint agency Integrated Framework for Trade-related Technical Assistance for Least Developed Countries (IF). The other agencies involved are the IMF, WTO, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), UNCTAD, and the ITC (International Trade Centre - the technical cooperation agency of UNCTAD and the WTO for operational, enterprise-oriented aspects of trade development). According to its website[xiii], the IF's objectives are to ""mainstream" (integrated) trade into the national development plans such as the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) of least-developed countries; and to assist in the co-ordinated delivery of trade-related technical assistance in response to needs identified by the LDC".

The spread of World Bank-led diagnostic trade studies is forcing rapid unilateral trade liberalisation into national development plans through the back door.

The IMF, meanwhile, remains the global gatekeeper for aid, the most important single agency in signalling the quality of a country's macro-economic environment and creditworthiness to other donors. The IMF's Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) complements and interlocks with the World Bank's PRSP and the work of the WTO. Its platform is trade liberalisation, privatisation and a reduced role for the state. In April 2004, the IMF launched its Trade Integrated Mechanism (TIM)[xiv] to assist member countries meet balance of payment shortfalls resulting from multilateral trade liberalization (like reduction in export revenues, and increased import bills). Its first recipients were Bangladesh and the Dominican Republic. The IMF has also boosted technical assistance and research on trade.

A 10 December 1999 World Bank-IMF operational document on PRGF-PRSP argues: "The impediments to faster sustainable growth should be identified and policies agreed to promote more rapid growth: such as structural reforms to create free and more open markets, including trade liberalisation, privatisation and tax reform and policies that create a stable and predictable environment for private sector activity."[xv]

IFIs, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, comprised of the world's thirteen most powerful Central Bankers[xvi], the WTO and the baby banks essentially form much of the framework for global economic policymaking. The IFIs set parameters for all donors of the accepted creed of policy discourse with developing countries and 'effective' aid delivery strategies. Calls for greater coherence of donor countries to harmonize their aid, investment, export credit insurance and trade policies are cold comfort when coherence means conformity to a neoliberal model of development. Trade-related conditionalities of the IMF-WB (and regional banks like the ADB) weaken negotiating positions and possibilities for formation of alliances of countries to stand against US-EU bullying in multilateral or regional trade negotiations or aggressive bilateral deal-making.

The 'Baby Banks'

Trade-related technical assistance has also become an increased focus of ADB and IADB lending policy. The IADB has a close formal relationship with the WTO. In February 2002 it signed a memorandum of understanding to deepen cooperation on providing technical assistance like training courses and workshops on trade negotiations and capacity-building to Latin American and Caribbean countries "to participate fully in the multilateral trading system." The IDB's central policy goal is economic integration of Latin American countries with the global market. Since 1994 the IADB has contributed over US $10 million to support the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) process[xvii]. In May 2002 WTO and ADB officials signed a memorandum of understanding under which their institutions agreed to cooperate on joint technical assistance programmes for participants from the ADB''s developing member governments in Asia and the Pacific[xviii].


As the WTO broadens its scope it opens up a greater interface with the IMF and World Bank, which have also broadened their roles beyond their original core activities in recent years. A key area for jurisdictional overlap between the institutions concerns capital liberalization, especially in relation to the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMs), and the plurilateral Financial Services Agreement. Continuing pressure from Northern governments and corporations in the GATS negotiations aims to achieve, by the backdoor, the liberalization and convertibility of capital accounts of developing countries. Meanwhile any future Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI)-style deal on investments at the WTO would inevitably create other areas of overlap with the IMF-World Bank.

Potential for inter-institutional tensions certainly exists, and there already are examples. As Korean academic Dukgeun Ahn has noted[xix], measures adopted under South Korea's December 1997 agreement with the IMF during the financial crisis became the focal point for WTO trade disputes with the USA and the EU. Here, IMF-prescribed and temporary increased roles of the government in the financial restructuring of the Korean corporate sector were challenged under the WTO Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures. Ahn observes: "There is no exception to WTO obligations for policy measures regardless of whether they are employed as parts of adjustment measures or IMF conditionality." Perhaps the moral of this story is that when there is apparently full coherence and congruence between IMF, World Bank and WTO measures, you stand to get screwed for not being neoliberal enough, and if there is inconsistency, you also get screwed for not being neoliberal enough!

The UN, Neoliberal Globalization and the Millennium Development Goals

The Monterrey Consensus declaration from the UN Conference on Financing for Development (FfD), attended by representatives of the IMF, World Bank, WTO and many corporations was aptly dubbed the "Washington Consensus wearing a sombrero"[xx] by John Foster of the Ottawa-based North-South Institute. With its advocacy of trade and investment liberalization, privatization and the marketization of land and resources, it highlights again the neoliberal capture of the United Nations. It comes on top of increasingly entrenched corporate involvement at UN agencies, its 1993 dissolution of the UN Centre on Transnational Corporations, and the UN Global Compact with 50 of the world's largest corporations, an initiative which Kofi Annan promised would "safeguard open markets while at the same time creating a human face for the global economy" among other things[xxi]. Arguments for more policy space must be seen in the context of an overall push to get UN members to ultimately move towards the same goal - free market economies.

On April 15 2005, a special high-level meeting of the UN ECOSOC[8] with the Bretton Woods institutions, the WTO and UNCTAD (WTO Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi's new employer) discussed 'Coherence, coordination and cooperation in the context of the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus: achieving the internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration."[xxii] The President of ECOSOC's summary noted that "the increasing interdependence of national economies in a globalizing world and the emergence of rule-based regimes for international economic relations meant that the space for national economic policy was now framed by international discipline, commitments and global market considerations".[xxiii] Most sought "decisive progress" in the Hong Kong WTO Ministerial Conference towards "a successful conclusion of WTO negotiations in 2006 on the basis of a truly development-oriented Doha agenda". Indeed, this is the UN Secretary-General's request. A June 1 2005 Secretary-General's report to the UN General Assembly reiterated support for "addressing systemic issues: enhancing the coherence and consistency of the international monetary, financial and trading systems in support of development."[xxiv]

The MDGs ignore structural issues at the root of poverty such as debt, unfair trade and economic policies. Perhaps that is unsurprising. They were essentially drawn up by ministers from OECD countries, with no participation by governments from the South let alone those most directly affected. How exactly will governments finance primary health care and education while they are being forced to cut public expenditure and privatize services under neoliberal conditionalities of IFIs? How can the poor afford commercialized healthcare, water, education? How can even the rather modest goals of the MDGs be achieved by any country in the grip of neoliberalism, privatisation, and debt slavery? The social development goals are little more than a whitewash of the continuing policies of structural adjustment and liberalization - policies which worsen poverty and stunt genuine development.

In his "In Larger Freedom" report, Kofi Annan says that "development, security and human rights go hand in hand".[xxv] But what little the MDGs appear to give with one hand is taken away with the other. Goal 8 of the MDGs is: 'Develop a global partnership for development " ¦. Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system (includes a commitment to good governance, development and poverty reduction - both nationally and internationally)"[xxvi]

IBON's Joseph Yu points out: "The pessimism towards meeting the MDGs is not meant to spur rich donor countries to increase development assistance to underdeveloped countries, but to set the stage for the prescription of further neoliberal reforms as the means to achieve rapid economic growth and consequently, poverty reduction" ¦Promoting an "open, rule-based trading and financial system", cooperation with the private sector and competition in the global economy risks poverty alleviation goals being overwhelmed by corporate and donor interests."[xxvii]

Finance Liberalization and FTAs

The 1998 UNCTAD Trade and Development Report noted: "the ascendancy of finance over industry together with the globalization of finance have become underlying sources of instability and unpredictability in the world economy. (" ¦) In particular, financial deregulation and capital account liberalization appear to be the best predictor of crises in developing countries."[xxviii] Capital account liberalization, the removal of controls, taxes, subsidies and quantitative restrictions that affect capital account transactions - whether promoted through IMF loan conditionalities, the WTO Agreement on Financial Services, or now, in bilateral free trade and investment agreements - has already devastated domestic economies, particularly in South East Asia and Mexico in the 1990s.

The Chile and Singapore FTAs with the USA have "NAFTA[9]-plus" broad definitions of investment, which throw the door wide open for disgruntled investors to take a case to a dispute tribunal. Both agreements impose alarming new limits on the use of capital controls.[xxix] Indian policy analyst and researcher Kavaljit Singh argues that Chile's controls on capital inflows have helped insulate it against financial crises. He writes that it "stands to reason that the probability of occurrence of a financial crisis in Chile and Singapore would increase manifold with the removal of capital controls as envisaged in the bilateral trade agreements with the U.S."[xxx]

Even free traders have slammed this aspect of these FTAs. In a March 2003 Financial Times article, Jagdish Bhagwati and Daniel Tarullo wrote, "The intention of the Bush administration to use these two agreements as 'templates' for other trade agreements, possibly including the Doha round, means that acceptance of the capital control provisions could engender a trade policy that causes far-reaching damage. The prohibition on capital controls has the makings of a U.S. foreign policy debacle. Imagine that a government imposes short-term capital controls in order to manage financial problems. Compensation will ensue, but only for American investors. The citizens of the developing country will then see a rich U.S. corporation or individual being indemnified while everyone else in the country suffers from the crisis. One would be hard-pressed to think of a better prescription for anti-American outrage."[xxxi]

Fighting Back

While some people say "make poverty history", some of us say "make capitalism history". Capitalism and colonialism are all too often the elephants in the room in NGO activities on debt, trade economic, social and political justice - and war.

If our analysis of neoliberalism takes an explicitly anti-colonial and anti-capitalist standpoint, we may question strategies which aim to move these predatory, carnivorous institutions and companies towards a vegetarian diet by polite petitioning and 'civil society dialogue', and instead work together to delegitimize them. We must go beyond a compartmentalized campaign approach to individual institutions and their policies and name and confront the values and ideology that lie behind and link them.

Both critics and supporters of policy coherence argue that coherence at an international level between institutions has to be based on coherence within national governments and their different ministries, agencies and departments. Strategically and practically, I think that it is primarily the domestic pressure points of intervention - conflicts, contradictions, tensions between officials, government ministries and departments - which are important to identify and campaign around, rather than the potential or apparent tensions between the IFIs and the WTO.

As labour researcher Gerard Greenfield warns, calls for transparency, openness and more democracy within institutions like the WTO ignore "the fact that we need to have the ability to do something about what we see, otherwise we'll just be spectators in a transparent process" ¦ Aggressively cutting back our ability to impose democratic priorities on capital is not an afterthought - it lies at the very heart of the globalization project.[xxxii]

For those in power, an opposition that prioritizes dialogue and a contest of ideas with elites is far less dangerous and more controllable than one that understands power and builds counter-power through community organizing and movement-building.

"Many of the biggest and strongest civil society organizations orient upwards, justifying and elaborating the actions and ideologies of the dominant power. Others orient to the grassroots, and within this there are two different types: those that organize and mobilize to fit into programmes constructed by dominant power, and those that organize and mobilize to confront the dominant power" write South African activists and researchers Stephen Greenberg and Nhlanhla Ndlovu.[xxxiii]

Perhaps we need to reclaim the roots of the word monkey-wrenching - it is a term from Ed Abbey's book about a fictional band of militant environmental activists, The Monkey Wrench Gang[xxxiv] referring to direct action against the powerful. The biggest and strongest kinds of monkey-wrench are strong and sustained communities of resistance and social movements. For those of us that do research and policy analysis, our challenge is to redouble our efforts to orient our work in ways that strengthen and support those popular struggles against neoliberalism, in our communities, and internationally.

[1] Bretton Woods Institutions. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were founded at the Bretton Woods Summit, New Hampshire, USA in July 1944, and a vision for an international trade organization - originally the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, now the World Trade Organization - was also put forward at the meeting.

[2] International Financial Institutions. Besides the World Bank and the IMF, these include regional banks such as the Asian Development Bank, the InterAmerican Development Bank, African Development Bank, and the European Union's European Investment Bank

[3] Bilateral Free Trade (and investment) Agreements

[4] United Nations' Millennium Development Goals

[5] Weapons of Mass Destruction

[6] Transnational Corporations

[7] see later section on financial liberalization

[8] UN Economic and Social Council

[9] North American Free Trade Agreement

[i] Douglas Edward Leach. 1958. Flintlock and Tomahawk: New England in King Philip's War. New York: Macmillan, p.22

[ii] World Bank website: http://www.worldbank.org

[iii] Asian Development Bank website: http://www.adb.org

[iv] Robert B. Zoellick, US Trade Representative. Countering Terror With Trade. Washington Post editorial, 20 September 2001. http://www.ustr.gov/Document_Library/Op-eds/2001/Countering_Terror_with_Trade.html

[v] US Trade Representative website: http://www.ustr.gov

[vi] Robert Gavin. MIT professor named top economist under 40: Key study minimizes geography in formation of rich vs. poor nations. Boston Globe. 15 June 2005. http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2005/06/15/mit_professor_named_top_economist_under_40

[vii] L. Alan Winters. Coherence with no "here": WTO co-operation with the World Bank and the IMF. Paper presented at CEPR/ECARES/World Bank Conference on 'The World Trading System Post Seattle: Institutional Design, Governance and Ownership', 14/15 July 2000, Universit ƒÂ© Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels.

[viii] WTO website, http://www.wto.org/english/docs_e/legal_e/32-dchor_e.htm

[ix] Emad Mekay, IMF, World Bank Join Forces With WTO, Inter Press Service. 13 May 2003

[x] Lawrence Summers, Why America Needs the IMF, Wall Street Journal, 27 March 1998, p. A.22

[xi] Bank Information Center USA website. The World Bank and Trade Liberalization. http://www.bicusa.org/bicusa/issues/trade/index.php

[xii] Bretton Woods Project. IFIs on trade: "enormous investment" but to what end? Bretton Woods Update, Number 45 - March April 2005

[xiii] Integrated Framework website. http://www.integratedframework.org/

[xiv] International Monetary Fund and International Development Association. Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers - Operational Issues. Prepared by the Staffs of the IMF and the World Bank. December 10, 1999. http://www.imf.org/external/np/pdr/prsp/poverty1.htm#I

[xv] IMF Factsheet. The IMF's Trade Integrated Mechanism (TIM). March 2005 http://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/facts/tim.htm

[xvi] Basel Committee on Banking Supervision website. http://www.bis.org/bcbs

[xvii] IDB website. IDB Support for Integration in Latin America and the Caribbean. www.iadb.org/EXR/AM/2003/eng/issuebriefs/am_integ.cfm

[xviii] ADB News Release. ADB, WTO Agree to Join Efforts to Promote Trade in Asia. 9 May 2002. http://www.adb.org/Documents/News/2002/nr2002076.asp

[xix] Dukgeun Ahn. WTO Disciplines Under the IMF Program: Congruence or Conflict. In Mitsuo Matsushita and Dukgeun Ahn (eds) 2004. WTO and East Asia, New Perspectives. London: Cameron May. Pp.25-38. http://www.worldtradelaw.net/articles/ahnimf.pdf

[xx] BBC website. Analysis: Mixed Feelings at Monterey. 23 March 2002 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1889536.stm

[xxi] George Monbiot. Getting Into Bed With Big Business: The UN is no longer just a joke. It is becoming the villain of the piece. The Guardian, 31 August 2000. http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Column/0,5673,361716,00.html

[xxii] UN Website: http://www.un.org/docs/ecosoc/meetings/2005/bwi2005/

[xxiii] UN General Assembly/Economic and Social Council. Summary by the President of the Economic and Social Council of the special high-level meeting of the Council with the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade Organization and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (New York, 16 April 2005). 2 June 2005. http://www.un.org/docs/ecosoc/meetings/2005/bwi2005/President%27sSummary.pdf

[xxiv] UN General Assembly. The Monterrey Consensus: status of implementation and tasks ahead. Report of the Secretary-General. I June 2005. http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N05/370/07/PDF/N0537007.pdf?OpenElement

[xxv] UN General Assembly. In larger freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all. Report of the Secretary-General. p.5 http://www.un.org/largerfreedom

[xxvi] UN Millennium Development Goals website. http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/

[xxvii] Joseph Yu. Kofi Annan's 'In Larger Freedom': Still not free from the neoliberal strategy. IBON Features. Vol XI No 11. April 2005 http://www.ibon.org

[xxviii] UNCTAD Trade and Development Report 1998: Financial Instability, Growth in Africa. pp. V. and 55. http://www.unctad.org/en/docs/tdr1998_en.pdf

[xxix] see Aziz Choudry. Bilateral Trade and Investment Deals: BITs a serious challenge for global justice movements. Z Magazine, December 2003 http://zmagsite.zmag.org/Dec2003/choudry1203.html

[xxx] Kavaljit Singh. Trading Away Capital Controls. 12 April 2003. http://www.ased.org/artman/publish/printer_72.shtml

[xxxi] Jagdish Bhagwati and Daniel Tarullo. A ban on capital controls is a bad trade-off. Financial Times, 17 March 2003

[xxxii] Gerard Greenfield. The Success of Being Dangerous: Resisting Free Trade & Investment Regimes. Studies in Political Economy, Spring 2001. http://www.global-labour.org/greenfield1.htm

[xxxiii] Stephen Greenberg and Nhlanhla Ndlovu. Civil Society Relationships. www.interfund.org.za/pdffiles/vol5_two/greenberg.pdf

[xxxiv] Edward Abbey. 1976. The Monkey Wrench Gang. New York: Avon Books
APEC and free trade agreements in the Asia Pacific
Author: Prof Jane Kelsey, ARENA

This conference provides a useful opportunity to reflect on the present and possible future role of APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation). In recent years, veteran APEC-watchers have rather complacently dismissed the grouping as irrelevant. But we may have under-estimated its contribution to the new matrix of economic alliances that are emerging within the region.

APEC is easy to dismiss. It has no institutional structure or binding legal agreements and sets ambitious goals for free trade and investment that most of its members appeared to have no intention of meeting. Yet its informality and flexibility may be its major advantage, as its proponents have often claimed. The top-down approach of negotiating ever-expanding formal regional treaties in Europe and the Americas is stalling in the face of popular and political opposition to the neoliberal agenda, the loss of sovereignty and the dominance of superpowers. When APEC tried to present itself as the regional equivalent of the EU and NAFTA it faced similar opposition from member governments and popular movements.

The more recent strategy, led by evangelical neoliberal governments in the region, has been to work less visibly from the 'bottom up'. That has helped create a new momentum that is much more difficult to mobilize against. Yet focusing only on this momentum disguises fundamental problems. These agreements reflect different models for regional capitalism, and the competing power politics and hegemonic aspirations of larger powers in the region. Their coverage and terms are uneven, making integration of the multiplicity of agreements almost impossible. Moreover, if governments try to implement all the current and proposed agreements they will create major social, economic and political conflict. These contradictions echo and are likely to intensify the instability and vulnerability of the multilateral 'trade' agenda.

A Brief History of APEC

APEC's history can be divided into four periods. The original proposals for a regional economic grouping came from Australia, supported by Japan and New Zealand, in 1988. This was a response to the paralysis of the Uruguay round and predictions that the world would split into three axes: Europe, the Americas and Asia (Africa was deemed irrelevant). At that time the Asian tigers were predicted to be the powerhouse of the 21st century, but there was no effective regional economic mechanism. ASEAN was seen as limited and ineffective, especially by Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan who were excluded. China was barely on the radar screen. The US bullied its way in to this arrangement, despite opposition from Australia, but with support from Japan who felt it would otherwise be targeted as the sole superpower in the grouping. Unlike the EU and NAFTA, APEC's rhetoric of 'open regionalism' was designed to act as a catalyst for the global agenda, rather than create a preferential regional bloc. Interest in APEC was hard to sustain once the Uruguay round got moving after 1990 and their next few annual meetings of trade ministers were non-events. President Clinton reluctantly convened the first leaders' summit in 1993, so that the US had something to show for hosting the meeting. There were limited protests in Seattle that mainly involving North American NGOs and unions.

From 1994 to 1996 APEC became infamous for the extravagance of its meetings and its rhetoric. The host 'economy' in 1994 was Soeharto's Indonesia. Under the strong influence of the US, Indonesia got APEC members to adopt the voluntary and non-binding 'Bogor Goal' of achieving free and open trade and investment by 2010 for its 'developed' member economies and 2020 for 'developing' economies. Mahathir immediately signaled Malaysia's dissent. In Osaka in 1995 member governments produced their first Individual Action Plans setting out the steps they would take to achieve the Bogor goal and a Collective Action Plan to develop common policy positions on key issues. This was built on in Manila in 1996.

Over this time, a split became apparent between the aggressive free trade and investment agenda of APEC's Anglo-American members and the economic integration approach of the Asian governments, led by Japan. That internally paralysed APEC. Externally, APEC faced mounting opposition at the annual ministers and leaders' summits. Building on a small gathering of activists in Indonesia in 1994, regional NGOs met in Osaka in 1995 to analyse and oppose these developments. Popular movements, as well as NGOs, held mass mobilizations in the Philippines in 1996. Connections were made with structural adjustment at the national level and the newly created WTO. Media scepticism helped foster a major credibility crisis for APEC.

In 1997 most commentators were writing APEC's obituary. The Vancouver leaders' summit came shortly after the collapse of Indonesian and Thai economies and Malaysia's intervention in currency markets. During the meeting itself the South Korean economy also collapsed. Proposals led by the Anglo-Americans to boost the WTO through Early Voluntary Sector Liberalisation failed to gain support (although some of that groundwork has resurfaced in the sectoral negotiations on non-agricultural products (NAMA) in the Doha round). Bitter divisions continued through 1998 when Malaysia was the APEC chair and the US boycotted the annual meeting. Vancouver saw the last of the major regional protests against APEC: the British Columbia provincial government hosted a mass-scale, politically moderate 'NGO Olympics' in Vancouver that provided little momentum for ongoing regional activism. The small-scale protests in Kuala Lumpur in 1998 blended with the local politics of the reformasi movement.

Since 1999 APEC has slowly emerged from this near death experience in a different, but temporarily more effective, form. This was not immediately apparent. The 1999 meeting was only saved from being a disaster for the New Zealand host by the brokering of a political deal with Indonesia on East Timor. This set a precedent for political, rather than economic, issues to dominate the leaders' meetings. That political element intensified after September 2001 as the US insisted that security and terrorism took centre stage. APEC was portrayed by its defenders as a low-key regional version of the G-8. At the same time, governments still insisted that they were meeting as 'economies', screening out broader considerations of social justice and human rights, and produced market-driven strategies such as the STAR initiative (Secure Trade in the APEC Region).

The role of APEC in promoting neoliberal globalization refocused on what New Zealand officials dubbed the 'Trojan Horse' strategy. The idea was to achieve the Bogor goals and revitalize the WTO from below by negotiating WTO-plus agreements among APEC's neoliberal evangelists. This was part of an international response to the crisis in the WTO and a desire for 'insurance' if multilateralism broke down (1988 revisited). Current research on this trend by Chris Dent from Leeds University reports 16 FTAs operating internationally in 1990; 72 by 1997; and some 178 in 2004, with many more being negotiated or proposed. By the end of 2004, 72 FTA projects were underway that involved APEC members.

The ambitious proposal for a Pacific 5 (Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, Chile and the US) was promoted by New Zealand soon after the Vancouver APEC meeting in 1997 had failed to agree on voluntary sectoral liberalisation and the East Asian crisis altered perceptions of the regional and global economy. The US and Australia were unenthusiastic. So New Zealand and Singapore as small country evangelists began negotiations for a bilateral agreement. Singapore was especially keen to distance itself from the 'failed' East Asian economies. Australia, Chile, Thailand, Mexico and Hong Kong China subsequently embraced the bilateral strategy. Meanwhile, the US was pursuing FTAs with many of the same countries, outside APEC, as part of its own geo-political strategy.

A number of ASEAN governments (notably Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia) did not support the 'Trojan Horse' strategy, seeing FTAs as breaking down ASEAN's solidarity and the prospects for an East Asia Economic Caucus - an idea actively promoted by Malaysian' Prime Minister Mahathir since the mid-1990s with implicit support from other ASEAN countries. This has been slowly moving forward. The ASEAN-plus-3 dialogue was institutionalised in 1999.

Thailand, under WTO Director-General-elect Supachai Panitchpakdi, was more favourably disposed to FTAs in general, including within ASEAN. The region's new economic powerhouse, the People's Republic of China, was also warming to the idea. Promoted by Supachai and Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji a China-ASEAN Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Co-operation was signed in 2002. This agreed to an 'early harvest' of tariff cuts by China in favour of ASEAN, ahead of those for other WTO members, and a China-ASEAN FTA (CAFTA) to be implemented in 2010. This would potentially create the third largest free trade area in the world.

The Anglo-American lobby was once again worried about being left out. In 2004 at the annual trade ministers meeting in Chile, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Taipei and Canada pushed to blend these initiatives into an Asia Pacific FTA - something the APEC business lobby (APEC Business Advisory Group or ABAC) had argued for as a way to overcome the 'spaghetti bowl' effect of the FTAs. China, Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia sunk the idea. However, Australia and New Zealand did secure agreement from ASEAN in November 2004 to launch negotiations for a combined FTA in 2005.

As of 2005 almost all APEC members are involved in some kind of FTA negotiations. Governments still routinely commission crude econometric studies that produce fanciful predictions of the gains; but they commonly downplay claims that tangible economic gains will be made. The motives are more strategic than economic. Negotiations between the US and Chile, Singapore, Thailand and South Korea have been largely influenced by geo-political relationships. China and Japan have competing hegemonic aspirations that are apparent in their approach to regional deals, with China in the lead. Countries that agree to negotiate with China, especially ASEAN, seem more concerned about the process of developing their relationship than they are about the economic (and social) outcome. Singapore and Chile justify the agreements as a way to sell themselves as platforms into their regions by providing to foreign investors with guaranteed 'high quality' neoliberal regimes. There is also an ideological 'demonstration effect'. The neoliberal evangelists believe that creating a critical mass will help them pressure other countries to join for fear of being left out, and reduce the influence of domestic opposition.

The result is a competitive form of liberalisation. As occurred within APEC itself, there are competing models of FTAs that cannot be integrated. The US demands agreements that reflect its political, economic and strategic interests. Japan and South Korea are more selective, seeking external opportunities while responding to domestic interests. China is primarily concerned to establish precedents, learn from negotiations that are relatively insignificant or secure their energy supplies. The neoliberal evangelists promote pure WTO-plus bilateral agreements, which they hope can be expanded to cover more parties; they cite the extension of the Singapore/New Zealand agreement, which became the Pacific Three with Chile and ultimately the Trans-Pacific Closer Economic Partnership in 2005 after Brunei joined. Sub-regional initiatives are also underway. Increasingly, these involve governments in a mix of models: notably ASEAN/CER (Australia and New Zealand), ASEAN/China, and the less developed ASEAN-plus-three.

The resulting web of agreements and negotiations is fragmented, unco-ordinated and uneven in content and coverage. It remains unclear whether governments actually intend to implement all these agreements, especially when rich country models are being pushed on poorer Asian countries where the economic, social and political consequences will be severe.

APEC is currently playing four roles in this new regional dynamic:

  1. Regular meetings of regional trade and finance ministers and political leaders provide triggers to advance the process at the multilateral and bilateral levels. APEC's 'open regionalism' is premised on the primacy of multilateral negotiations. Since the first WTO ministerial meeting in Singapore in 1996, APEC meetings have acted as rolling WTO mini-ministerials where key WTO players can broker deals and pressure reluctant governments behind closed doors. However, APEC meetings are just one of many opportunities for mini-ministerials and the deep ongoing divisions among APEC members and difficulty of gaining consensus on the Doha round programme means they have had limited impact.

    APEC meetings have been much more important as catalysts for the FTAs and RTAs. Evangelical governments use APEC to ratchet up the process. The desire of Trade Ministers and Leaders for headlines that can show some outcome from these meetings has produced opportunistic deadlines for negotiations that require officials and ministers to overcome the obstacles. Sometimes, one government will finesse the process: New Zealand announced conclusion of the FTA with Thailand during APEC in Chile in 2004, even though negotiations were yet concluded, because it feared the Thai government's commitment was weakening in response to domestic pressure.

  2. The 'Bogor Goal' of free and open trade and investment by 2010/2020 is used as justification for neoliberal policies and FTAs. Neoliberal evangelists in Chile, New Zealand, Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong cite the Bogor Goal as justification for unilateral, bilateral and regional liberalisation. It is referred to in the preamble and/or text of most agreements involving APEC members, so as to legitimize the agreement and justify built in reviews that will extend the original level of liberalisation. It is also used to justify peer pressure within APEC to ensure that bilaterals comply with WTO requirements for FTAs and the WTO-plus APEC objectives and various non-binding principles and guidelines. As part of the 'mid-term stock take' (half way to 2010) it has been agreed that each APEC government's Individual Action Plan is to include a chapter on FTAs, with a template for reporting on existing and proposed agreements that cover APEC's wide-ranging neoliberal agenda. The Trade Ministers meeting in 2005 also called for an active information exchange and forwarding of the APEC best practice guidelines to the WTO.
  3. APEC's internal work programme is increasingly focused on promoting and shaping FTAs & RTAs to achieve 'high quality' liberalisation and consistency. Best Practice guidelines for FTAs were developed in 2004 and endorsed by the Ministers and Leaders meetings. The Australian government also produced a handbook on FTAs for a workshop on FTA negotiations in December 2004, which includes a section on how to sell the agreements at home. This is part of the Australian government's 'capacity-building' activities in APEC that are funded by AUSAID. Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade also published a negotiating guide to FTAs in 2005, which includes the best practice principles and a stylized FTA.

    In 2003, 2004 and 2005 APEC has held policy dialogues on FTAs at Senior Official level. More are planned, specifically to share the experience of the Trans-Pacific CEP (Chile, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei) as a model for integrating bilateral FTAs. Training programmes have been organised to build micro-networks of officials, with several of the APEC Study Centres playing a key ideological role.

  4. APEC's ever broadening programme is used to justify WTO-plus FTAs and coherence with the neoliberal agenda of the international and regional financial institutions. Coverage of FTAs and Closer Economic Partnerships routinely reaches much further than current WTO agreements. This creates precedents that become new base lines that can be used to ratchet up the coverage and the rules in the next phase of FTAs and flow on to the WTO negotiations. Liberalisation of services has overtaken goods as the primary element of FTAs, with increasingly use of a negative list approach, which some governments now claim, has become the norm. Other chapters cover the 'new issues' that were explicitly rejected in Cancun.

    This is often justified by reference to 'voluntary and non-binding', 'best practice' principles, guidelines and policies that have been produced by secretive and undemocratic APEC committees for many years. They cover investment, competition, government procurement, structural adjustment, privatization, fiscal austerity, monetary regimes, and more. Most of these have been produced through a combination of trade officials from evangelic governments, plus the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (combining private sector, academics and officials 'acting in their personal capacity') and consultants from the APEC Study Centres. They also often involve collaboration with the Asian Development Bank. World Bank, IMF and OECD. These examples of 'best practice' are increasingly referred to in agreements to justify texts or as the basis for future negotiations.

Strategic Responses

So-called 'free trade' agreements are really strategic initiatives that are driven by a combination of political allegiances, ideology, hegemonic objectives and fear of marginalization. APEC's claim to be a body of member economies, and its myopic objective of 'open regionalism' to achieve free trade and investment by 2010/2020, excludes any critique of neoliberal globalization and hides the critical contradictions that are intrinsic to
- competing models of capitalist expansion;
- competing strategies for regional economic integration; and
- competing power politics and hegemonic goals.

If APEC is basically a pimp for the WTO and FTAs, is it worth the ongoing attention of activists in the region? In the past there have been gains from targeting APEC meetings: local awareness raising, challenges to an agenda that would otherwise have gone unchallenged, and providing leverage to debate the broader agenda that APEC represents locally, regionally and in the media. What form these challenges took was largely a reflection of local priorities and capacity. By the late 1990s they had been superseded by a new focus on the WTO. Successive meetings in Brunei and China also made mobilization impossible. Since then, activities around the annual meetings have been muted, except for anti-FTAA activities in Chile in 2004 and potentially South Korea this year.

The effectiveness of anti-APEC activities can also be seen as a product of the 1990s. Since the crisis in the WTO, and the current blind panic to sign up bilateral agreements, it has become much more difficult to derail the APEC agenda and hence those bilateral deals. This new role for APEC may be short lived. It is likely to become less significant again in the future, once the deals have been done or negotiations have collapsed - especially if ASEAN/China unleashes a new dynamic. New divisions are likely to emerge between Asia/Latin America/ the US and Australia/New Zealand and between the neoliberal evangelists, Chinese and Japanese hegemonic interests, economic nationalists, and US imperialists.

Is there is anything to gain from targeting APEC over the next few years and if so why, how and where? Could a focus on its activities through a revival of popular and media pressure and visibility slow the current process in the short term? Could it put the spotlight on FTAs where that is not impossible within the countries concerned? Is it possible for this pressure to heighten the internal contradictions that ensure that integration of these agreements is impossible in the longer run? Are there forthcoming meetings where the national politics and strength of local organizers makes this possible? Is it a priority for regional movements, given other competing priorities?

Prof Jane Kelsey
Action, Research and Education Network of Aotearoa (ARENA)

* Paper to the Asia Pacific Research Network Policy Research Conference on Trade, Hong Kong, 11-13 July 2005

Selected references:

ABAC, 'The First Decade Since Bogor. A Business Assessment of APEC's Progress', Hong Kong: ABAC 2004 www.abaconline.org

APEC, 'Best Practice for RTAs/FTAs in APEC', 16th APEC Ministerial Meeting, 17 November 2004, Santiago, Chile 2004/AMM/003

APEC 'Bogor Goals Mid-Term Stocktake Symposium Summary', Trade Ministers Meeting, 2-3 June 2005 Jeju, Korea 2005/MRT/006anx7

APEC Committee on Trade and Investment, 'Proposed IAP Chapter on FTAs and RTAs', 29-30 September 2004, Santiago, Chile 2004/SOMIII/CTI/007

APEC Finance Ministers' Meeting '2004 Policy Themes: Conclusion Report by the Chair', 2-3 September 2004, Santiago, Chile 2004/FMM/006

APEC-OECD Integrated Checklist on Regulatory Reform: Addressing Regulatory, Competition Policy and Market Openness Policy Issues' Trade Ministers Meeting, Jeju, Korea 2-3 June 20052005/MRT/006anx7

APEC 'Participant's Handbook, Workshop on Negotiating Free-Trade Agreements', 13-15 December 2004, Brunei Darussalam

APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade 'Statement of the Chair' 2-3 June 2005, Jeju, Korea 2005/MRT/008

Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 'Negotiating free-trade agreements: a guide', Canberra: APEC Branch/DFAT 2005

Dent, Christopher 'Bilateral Free Trade Agreements: Boon or Bane for Regionalism in East Asia and the Asia-Pacific?' (forthcoming)

Kelsey, Jane 'Whither APEC?' in Wesley Pue (ed) 'Pepper in Our Eyes: The APEC Affair' Vancouver: UBC Press 2000

McKay, John (Australian APEC Study Centre) 'ASEAN Plus Three & Alternative Visions of Economic Cooperation: Implications for APEC', APEC Study Centres Consortium, May 2005, Jeju, Korea

PECC, 'Asia-Pacific RTAs as Avenues to Achieving the Bogor Goals: Analysis and Ways Forward' SOM Policy Dialogue on RTAs/FTAs, 27 May 2003 Khon Kaen, Thailand 2003/SOMII/RTAs/FTAs/012

Scollay, Robert 'Preliminary Assessment of the Proposal for a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP). An Issues Paper for the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC)' Auckland: New Zealand APEC Study Centre 2004

Soesastro, Hadi 'Trends and Issues of RTAs/FTAs in East Asia', SOM Policy Dialogue on RTAs/FTAs, 27 May 2003 Khon Kaen, Thailand 2003/SOMII/RTAs/FTAs/015

Soesastro, Hadi 'APEC's Trade Policy Challenges: The Doha Development Agenda and Regional/Bilateral FTAs', SOM Policy Dialogue on RTAs/FTAs, 27 May 2003 Khon Kaen, Thailand 2003/SOMII/RTAs/FTAs/008

Invitation to the Policy Research Conference on Trade
Author: Secretariat, APRN
Asia-Pacific Research Network

Invites you to a
Policy-Research Conference on Trade
July 11-13, 2005
Hong Kong , SAR

Hosted by: Asia Monitor Resource Center, Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants, Documentation for Action Groups in Asia

This research-policy conference seeks to comprehensively address the issue of trade liberalization. Besides looking into the current course and intricacies of the WTO negotiations towards the 6th Ministerial Meeting in HongKong and its implications on the people, the conference will also look into the inter-linkages of trade with issues such as the bilateral, regional and plurilateral free trade mechanisms, the geopolitics of trade liberalization and economic integration, the relationship of domestic trade and international trade, development and technical aid, debt and other related trade-finance coherence issues.

This interlinking of issues is meant to locate the WTO issues in a broader regional and global context of various trade and development issues, and thus provide capacity for national and grassroots-based organizations to link their immediate issues to various national and international trade and related issues.

Through this conference, APRN hopes to advance the capacity and interest of CSO's and social movements in Asia to address various trade issues as preparation for and to increase their involvement in advocacy on the various issues related to the coming HK Ministerial. By locating the conference in HongKong, APRN hopes to contribute to the preparations by social movements in HongKong by focusing interest on HongKong SAR and the people's issues.

The three-day conference will include inputs from a wide range of international speakers/social movement experts and study workshops the various issues related to WTO and major agreements (AoA, TRIPs, GATS, NAMA), trade-finance coherence, regional and bilateral agreements, and domestic and international trade.

For more details, please contact Jaz Buncan at secretariat@aprnet.org or visit www.aprnet.org.

Reg'l Economic Cooperation & Human Rights in Asia
Policy Workshop on Regional Economic Cooperation and Human Rights in Asia
June 4-7, 2004
Subic International Hotel,
Subic Freeport Zone, Olongapo City
Background paper prepared for a workshop discussion
Author: Secretariat, APRN
Background paper prepared for a workshop discussion
Message from the Seminar Co-Hosts
Author: seminar co-hosts

On June 4-6, 2004, in Olongapo City, Philippines, the Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN) and Rights & Democracy hosted a regional seminar on the issue of Asian economic cooperation and human rights.

The event, entitled Regional Economic Cooperation and Human Rights in Asia, brought together approximately 40 civil society representatives and academics from across South Asia and Southeast Asia. Through a series of workshops and discussion panels, participants evaluated the current status of cooperation agreements in South and Southeast Asia and assessed their impact on human rights in the region.

This report provides a synopsis of the a various panel presentations and workshop discussions, with a revised version of the seminar's background paper entitled; Economic Integration and Human Rights in Asia: An Overview. We have also included selected conference papers in their entirety in order to reflect the diversity of the discussion. Finally, the event agenda and participant list is annexed.

It should be noted that there is always a risk of error or omission when summarizing spoken presentations. Any errors or misinterpretations that appear in this seminar report are entirely the fault of the editor and should not be attributed to the speakers themselves.

Rights & Democracy and the Asia Pacific Research Center hope that this compilation of materials will be a useful resource for organizations and individuals considering the adoption of a human rights framework to address poverty and underdevelopment in Asia. We welcome comments and suggestions and encourage further discussion via a new email list established for this purpose. To join the email list, please contact the APRN secretariat at secretariat@aprnet.org for more details.

Antonio Tujan Jr.
Asia Pacific Research Network

Jean-Louis Roy
Rights & Democracy

Summary of Proceedings
Author: Secretariat, APRN
Day 1

Opening Introductions:

Asia is the fast growing region in the world, noted Mr. Antonio Tujan, Research   Director of IBON and Chair of the APRN in his welcoming remarks.   Despite this rapid growth, however, Asia faces three great challenges   to its development - globalization, militarism and the violation of   human rights - phenomena which are fundamentally linked to each   other. The objective of this seminar, Mr. Tujan added, is to address   these challenges through the lens of regional cooperation and to   consider if regional cooperation is a positive or negative force for   sustainable development and the realisation of human rights. Is   regional cooperation simply a mechanism of globalisation? Or is it the   most practical means for Asia's survival in the context of   globalisation?

Iris Almeida , Director of   Programs, Policy and Planning at Rights & Democracy, emphasized the   importance of building alliances for research, analysis and advocacy.   She suggested that this seminar is an important moment to identify   linkages between our different areas of expertise in the hopes of   better exchange on the key challenges facing Asia today. Ms. Almeida   noted that when regional human rights organizations met in Bangkok in   1993 in the lead up to the Vienna World Conference on Human Rights,   they expressed a strong will to work together to promote and protect   human rights across the region. Ms. Almeida said that she hopes this   seminar will renew these commitments and lead to the development of a   collaborative and strategic action plan for the next five years.

Panel 1: The Global & Regional Context of Regional Cooperation

Mr. T. Rajamoorthy of Third World Network in Penang, Malaysia, observed that regionalism   is not a new phenomenon and he cited the examples of Europe and the   Americas. He noted that the evolution of regional cooperation has   accelerated since the end of the Cold War, particularly in Europe. With   regards to the emergence of regionalism in Asia, Mr. Rajamoorthy noted   that most cooperation arrangements take the form of trade and   investment agreements and that these have gained in significance since   the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Since 1997, the two most important   landmarks in the evolution of the Asian region are the Chiang Mai   Initiative for financial cooperation (which recently recommended the   creation of an Asian currency) in 2000 and the Association of Southeast   Asian Nations (ASEAN)- China free trade agreement in 2002.

Mr.   Rajamoorthy added that globalisation itself - both its triumph and   its crisis - has been another contributing factor to the expansion of   regionalism. Smaller countries have found that they are in a stronger   position when they negotiate as a block. Nevertheless, regionalism can   also replicate the problems of globalisation because its agreements   would extend benefits equally to all members regardless of their level   of development. Developing countries in Asia and in other regions,   might find that the Global System of Trade Preferences (GSTP), which is   housed within the UN Committee on Trade & Development (UNCTAD), is   more favourable to their interests because it is limited only to   developing countries and because it encourages south-south cooperation.

The full text of Mr. Rajamoorthy's presentation is including with this report.

Dr. Manoranjan Mojanty, professor   of Political Science and Director of the Developing Countries Research   at the University of Delhi as well as Co-chair of the Institute of   Chinese Studies in Delhi, India, expressed his hopes that this workshop   would result in initiatives to put human rights at the centre of   regional cooperation. He said that Asia is currently undergoing   transformation in three areas: from internal conflict to regional   cooperation; from imbalanced development to harmonious development;   from poverty to prosperity. However, Dr. Mojanty cautioned that if   these various processes are not successful in addressing deprived or   alienated groups, then regional cooperation based on economic growth   alone might actually accentuate social tension.

Dr. Mojanty   pointed to the emergence of new "Asian identity" stretching from Egypt   to Japan and Mongolia to Sri Lanka characterized by the rise of a new   middle class, the success of local entrepreneurs, the strengthened   voice of peasant and worker moments, and the growth of the woman's   movement. He reviewed current regional integration mechanisms such as   SAARC and the ASEAN and noted the emergence of sub-regional processes   such as the Shanghai Cooperation ( China , Russia, Kazakhstan,   Kyrgystan, Tajikistanan, Uzbekistan).

Dr. Mohanty emphasized   the growing influence of the Boao Forum for Asia, which has emerged   since 2000 as the single pan-Asian cooperation effort. The Boao Forum   brings together business leaders, political figures and academics at   annual conferences held in the Hainan Province of China with the goal   of assisting Asian economies to meet the challenges of globalisation.

Dr.   Mohanty pointed out, however, that while these various processes do   address social and environmental concerns, they have so far failed to   address human rights. He also cautioned that Asian cooperation is often   threatened by bilateral disputes and by the vastness of the region. For   example, he said, Western Asia and Central Asia are often unrepresented   in the various forums and agreements, including the Boao Forum for Asia.

The full text of Dr. Mohanty's presentation is included with this report .

Panel 2: The Concept of Human Rights and its Relationship to Trade & Investment

Mr. Basil Fernando , Director of the Asian Human Rights Commission in Hong Kong, described   human rights as a fundamental political concept and suggested that   economic cooperation should be evaluated from the perspective of how it   contributes towards the realization of rights. Human rights, he said,   are about power, that is - the relationship between state and people.   Therefore, when we are evaluating economic cooperation between states   from the perspective of human rights, we need to address the foundation   of democracy in our countries.

Mr. Fernando pointed out that Asia   is home to many human rights violations, from torture and   extra-judicial killings to hunger and poverty. To the extent that trade   relations contribute to these violations, or lead to more inequity both   within and between nations, then the relationship between the state and   its people is of critical importance. Judicial processes must be   independent and free of corruption which is not the case in most Asian   countries. He noted that article 2 of both human rights covenants   emphasizes the importance of available remedies for human rights   violations, be those remedies judicial, legislative or administrative   in nature. Implementation of this principle is essential if people are   to ensure that trading agreements enhance their enjoyment of human   rights.

In conclusion, Mr. Fernando suggested that human rights   activists should be focused on the creation of independent institutions   at the national level. These institutions would have the power to   challenge the government with regards to trade agreements or other   processes that have an impact on human rights.

The full text of Mr. Fernando's presentation is included with this report.

Ms. Glenda Litong , Chair of ESCR-Asia in Manila, Philippines, described the relationship   between globalisation and development. She pointed out that a human   rights framework for development promotes human dignity not only by   envisioning the person as the object of development but also by placing   the person at the centre of development planning and evaluation. Ms.   Litong described the process of development via globalisation as   "development aggression", taking no account of the human and   environmental costs. The result, she added, has been growing poverty -   a violation of rights perpetrated by the very governments responsible   for protecting them. Ms. Litong supported the position of Mr. Fernando   and agreed that access to systems of justice is key in order for   victims of human rights abuse to hold their governments accountable to   their human rights commitments.

Ms. Litong emphasized the primacy   of human rights treaties over other international agreements. She   highlighted article 103 of the UN Charter which states that "In the   event of a conflict between the obligations of the members of the   United Nations under the present charter and the obligations under any   other international agreement, their obligations under the present   charter shall prevail." Even the WTO agreement itself, she added,   specifies that its objective is to raise "standards of living".

The full text of Ms. Litong's presentation is included with this report .

Open discussion: Panels 1 and 2

During   the open discussion following the panel presentations, participants   debated the value of regionalism as a defence against the inequities   resulting from globalisation. They questioned the theory of   establishing comparative advantage through regional cooperation. Mr.   Rajamoorthy cautioned that the growing number of bilateral agreements,   particularly with the United States, was undermining the role of   South-South trading arrangements and any advantage they would offer to   Asian economies. Dr. Mohanty questioned the concept of comparative   advantage itself, suggesting that one needs to look at comparative   advantage from a different perspective, for example in terms of   differentiated groups and sectors within nations rather than between   nations.

Other discussion topics focused on increased   militarism in the region, the links between globalisation and security   arrangements such as the Asian anti-terror pact, the isolation of North   Asia within cooperation agreements and the weakness of regional human   rights protection processes. Some participants questioned whether or   not it is actually possible, from a theoretical point of view, to   negotiate rights-based trade rules given that the trade objective is   efficiency and the human rights approach requires special attention to   vulnerable groups, even if it is inefficient.

Finally, a point   was raised about popular resistance to globalisation, the   criminalisation of dissent and its implications for lobbying as an   effective means to bring change. Speakers questioned whether or not   legal approaches and attempts to influence formal processes would   actually result in the desired changes.

Panel 3: Political and Economic Analysis of Specific Trade Agreements

Mr. Tapan Bose of the South Asia Forum on Human Rights in Nepal, provided a short   history of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)   and the subsequent creation of the South Asia Preferential Trade   Agreement (SAPTA) in 1985. He noted that fears of India's dominance and   the conflict between India and Pakistan contributed to the inactivity   of SAPTA until 1995 and problems of national security and internal   conflicts have since continued to stand in the way of regionalism in   South Asia. For these reasons, Mr. Bose said, the "nature of the polity   of the states predicates the impossibility of a vision of cooperation".

Mr.   Bose noted that 40% of South Asia's population lives in poverty and yet   there is no political will to work together to end poverty in the   region. The Independent South Asian Commission on Poverty Alleviation   was established in 1991 but it was not until 2001 - ten years later   - that its objectives were approved. Since 2001, regional   "non-cooperation" has characterized the effort to address poverty and   promote sustainable development in South Asia. For cooperation   agreements to succeed in their efforts to reduce poverty and promote   economic, social and cultural rights, they must free the movement of   labour, particularly from the least-developed countries in the region,   Bangladesh and Nepal.

Ms. Vicky Corpuz ,   coordinator of the Asian Women Indigenous Network based in the   Philippines, noted that despite the proliferation of trading agreements   in Southeast Asia, the reality is that trading between ASEAN countries   themselves remains insignificant at 22.75% of the region's total trade   in 2001. ASEAN's biggest export and import markets, Corpuz added, are   still the US, EU, Japan, China and South Korea. ASEAN countries   therefore compete with each other, weakening the foundation for   cooperation and increasing the vulnerability of individual states to   the crisis of over-production and volatility of the global market.

Despite   this weakness, Corpuz noted the significance of the Chaing Mai   initiative mentioned earlier by Mr. Rajamoorthy. The proposal suggested   the establishment of an Asian Monetary Fund that would provide   emergency loans without conditionalities. A successful AMF would be a   positive development because it would decrease the influence of the   International Monetary Fund in ASEAN countries.

Panel 4: Review of Available Human Rights Mechanisms

Gopal Siwakoti , Director of the Nepal Policy Institute in Kathmandu, reviewed the   current status of national human rights institutions in the region   describing them as lacking in political independence and specific   expertise in the field of human rights. These institutions, he added,   are focused primarily on civil and political rights and as such may not   provide the needed scrutiny of economic policy and its relation to   poverty and inequality in the region. These weaknesses undermine the   state's ability to adequately implement its obligations under the   International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Siwakoti   noted that there is no regional human rights body in Asia, adding that   the Asia Pacific Forum deals only with the functioning of national   institutions and the Tehran Framework supports only national plans for   the promotion of human rights. Nevertheless, there are sub-regional   agreements on the prevention of the trafficking of women and children,   and the promotion of child welfare. Except for these, the people of   Asia must rely upon multilateral human rights treaties and declarations   signed by Asian countries in the context of the United Nations system,   or the International Criminal Court which provides recourse in the case   of severe human rights violations such as crimes against humanity and   war crimes.

Nimalka Fernando , of the   International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism   in Sri Lanka, described the present human rights situation in Sri   Lanka, along with other political, economic and cultural   issues - patriarchy, migrant rights, racial and women discrimination,   self-determination, among others.


Open discussion: Panels 3 and 4

During   the discussion forum, participants debated the merits of allocating   civil society resources towards the creation of a regional human rights   mechanism. There were several different views on this question, but the   majority did not support the adoption of a campaign priority towards   this goal at this time. Concerns were raised about the weakness of   national institutions, the narrowing of political space for civil   society and the danger of a roll-back on the definition of rights in   the region.

Instead, the general view was that civil society   and social movements in Asia should continue to concentrate their   energies on research coupled with public advocacy and grassroots   organizing. Participants agreed that cross-border and cross-sector   networking should be a key component of national and regional   campaigns. There was also strong agreement that civil society give more   attention to the monitoring of transnational corporations (TNC)   activities, particularly the activities of Asia-based TNCs.

Day 2

Panel 5: Sector Case Studies

Labour:Apo Leong,   Director of the Asia Monitor Resource Centre in Hong Kong, described   the situation of workers in export processing zones (EPZ) as a true   race to the bottom with EPZs competing against each other even within   the same country. He provided several examples of flagrant rights   abuses in EPZs, noting the number of labour activists who have become   the targets of their own governments. With the rise in influence of   Asian TNCs, pressure for regional integration has intensified but there   has been little attention to the impact on labour rights. Leong   suggested that the best way of tackling this problem is to encourage   worker exchange within the region and also between developed and   developing countries. Consumer solidarity, he added, should also be   encouraged. Leong suggested more research about the operations of Asian   TNCs both within the region and elsewhere in the world.

Peasant rights: Mr. Burhanudi of the Federation of Indonesian Peasant Unions in Jakarta, focused his   remarks on the issue of land rights which he described as the critical   issue facing peasants. The majority of peasants in Indonesia, he said,   do not own their land or they own very small pieces of land, on average   only .03 hectares. During the 1980's President Suharto attempted to   use technology to increase production and national food security.   Initially there was increased productivity, but it subsequently   decreased due to the use of pesticides and resulted in land degradation   and pollution. This in turn has resulted in loss of livelihood and   social disruption for the Indonesian peasant. With liberalisation of   the agricultural sector, Indonesian peasants have been further affected   by the expropriation of land for industrial farming, high production   costs, decreased agricultural subsidies, and low market price of goods.

Indigenous people and mining:Ms. Vicky Corpuz addressed the impact of mining on indigenous people in Asia. Corpuz   described mining as the "biggest scourge" in the life of indigenous   people adding that any resistance on their side usually results in   increased violence against them. While there is little indication of a   reduction in extractive industry operations in Asia, there has been   some success in addressing its impacts from a rights perspective. In   2002, a UN Special Rapportuer visited and released a report on the   situation in seven countries ( India, Indonesia, Philippines, Papua New   Guinea, Russia, Chad, Cameroon, Colombia, and Ecuador). A strong   network of mining-affected communities will soon be conducting   fact-finding missions to mining areas in conflict zones. Civil society   is also utilizing the findings of recent Extractive Industry Review to make better use of the policy space available within UN and World Bank processes as well as to promote its recommendations.

Food Sovereignty: Mr.Gilbert Sape , Project coordinator at the Pesticide Action Network, Asia Pacific,   described the concept of food sovereignty as the right of people to   feed themselves and to determine the nature of the food they eat. Sape   described the campaign against genetically-modified food and the use of   pesticides which he said have resulted in 35 million poisonings a year,   mostly in Asia. Noting that TNCs develop, control and promote the use   of these products, Sape voiced scepticism at the recent Food &   Agriculture Organization recommendations that governments invest more   in such technology, cautioning that this recommendation could soon   become a conditionality for joining trade agreements. Sape described   upcoming initiatives aimed at popularizing the food sovereignty   movement - the Food Sovereignty Caravan beginning in Malaysia in   September and the Peoples' Convention on Food Sovereignty in November   in Bangladesh.

Migrant Workers : Mr. Ramon Bultron,   of the Asia Pacific Mission on Migrants based in Hong Kong, described   the "business" of labour export. Migrants are being used by governments   and the private sector as cheap labour and revenues. Migrants do not   enjoy their human rights and are regularly exploited. Despite the many   problems faced in trying to organize migrants, in recent years there   has been significant growth of movements and organizations that are   educating them about their rights. There have been some positive   results; for example the wage cut for migrants proposed in Hong Kong   was blocked. Bultron added that it is now necessary to forge strong   ties between migrant workers and other workers in host countries.

The human right to food : Mr. Colin Gonsalvez,   Director of the Human Rights Law Network in Delhi, reviewed the   situation in India saying that 80% of the population is living below   the normal calorie intake and 50% of children are malnourished. This,   he said, will have lasting effects on India's development. Recently,   the Supreme Court of India issued a variety of decisions aimed at   implementation of the human right to food. For example, the Court   directed that all primary school children should receive a handful of   rice each day. Nevertheless, India is poised to accept genetically   modified food and to abandon its public distribution system which is   one of the best in the world. Gonsalvez hopes that seminar participants   will agree to develop and promote a regional initiative on hunger,   including perhaps the drafting of a Regional Convention on the Right to   Food which could be used by parliaments to create right to food   programming as has been achieved in India.

Open discussion: Panel 5

Panel   5 resulted in a lively and engaged discussion focused largely around 3   issues - the human right to food and agricultural policy, the   accountability of transnational corporations to human rights law, and   the impact of the 2005 textile quota elimination on women workers.

In   response to a question regarding the cause of the growing number of   farmer suicides in India, Colin Gonsalvez pointed to the pressures of   globalisation as the primary reason. In addition, farmers are unable to   obtain loans and are forced to use money lenders who charge extremely   high interest rates. Government procurement of grain has also been   decreasing and imported products are replacing those produced locally.   Farmers facing bankruptcy have become destitute after money lenders and   banks confiscate everything they own. Consequently, they have been   committing suicide en mass by consuming pesticides.

Gilbert   Sape added that the loss of control over seeds is another reason why   farmers are losing hope. Sape noted that Monsanto is currently engaged   in 370 court cases in which they are suing farmers for using the very   seeds they have used for generations. Apo Leong added that a growing   number of farmers in China are resorting to suicide in response to new   pressures being imposed by local governments. Nevertheless, he added   that farmers are beginning to fight back using a variety of measures   such as blockades and demonstrations in order to make their points.

Regarding   the accountability of TNCs, Vicky Corpuz said that this is a priority   struggle for the human rights community. Despite a number of efforts to   regulate the activities of TNCs via legally binding international   agreements, we are faced instead with a situation in which TNCs and   investors are winning rights within institutions such as the World   Trade Organization. Recently, there was a consensus within the   Extractive Industry Review to adopt a policy of "free prior informed   consent" with regards to indigenous people, but we as civil society   should be looking at ways to push these efforts into higher gear,   particularly within the World Bank and the United Nations.

Apo   Leong countered, saying that he had no faith in international   instruments helping workers because those in the greatest need are   often those with no rights - migrants and other casual workers. Ramon   Bultron agreed, noting that many of the most flagrant abuses occur in   the context of sub-contracting by TNCs and it is therefore difficult to   bring cases against the parent company. Campaigning in the host country   is often the most effective measure.

Gilbert Sape stressed that   UN mechanisms were weak at best and he cited 2 examples in which civil   society organizations submitted reports to the Committee on Economic,   Social and Cultural Rights and that the Committee endorsed their   position but there was no further action. This, Sape said, is the   weakness of the human rights system and people's movements need to   adopt other measures in order to win their battles.

Regarding the   Multi-Fiber Agreement and its impact on women, Apo Leong said that the   Committee for Asian Women, a non-governmental group based in Bangkok,   is following this issue. There is concern that western trade unions and   even some Asian trade unions are targeting Indian and Chinese workers   as the unfair beneficiaries of the agreement. This is not the case -   workers are enjoying the benefits of the agreement. There must be more   international solidarity and civil society should take up the challenge   of resolving the divide.

Panel 6: Country case studies

Bhutan:Ms. Radha Adhikari of the Human Rights Council of Bhutan, focused her presentation on the   plight of Bhutanese refugees in Nepal and the lack of progress towards   regaining their right to citizenship in Bhutan. Bhutan currently has no   constitution, no legal system and only one high court. Adhikari   explained that India is responsible for Bhutan's foreign relations   and security, guided by the Indian-Bhutan Treaty of 1949. In 1988   Bhutan issued its "one country - one people" policy which resulted in   discrimination against the southern Bhutanese who are primarily of   Nepalese descent. This led to an "ethnic cleansing" and the flight of   refugees to Nepal. There have been 15 rounds of negotiations between   Nepal and Bhutan but there is still no resolution to the problem. India   has not provided adequate leadership on this issue because of its own   economic interests in Bhutan, in particular the Chukka hydropower   project. The growing trade relations between Bhutan and South Asia   should be used to encourage a resolution of the refugee problem as well   as the development of democracy in Bhutan.

Burma : Charm Tong , representing Shan Women's Action Network and the Women's League of   Burma, both based in Thailand, reported that since1962 Burma has been   under military rule. The Burmese people have been denied their human   rights and have suffered the exploitation of their natural resources.   After suppression of the democratic uprising in 1988, the country began   opening itself up to foreign investment, primarily from Thailand and   China. This influx of foreign currency has served to further strengthen   the military regime's grip on power, even as foreign aid fails to reach   vulnerable groups within the country. Burma joined ASEAN in 1997, thus   facilitating the development of trade relations within the region but   failing to deliver on the promise of democratisation. Burma's   integration into regional agreements has resulted in increased logging   and mining as well as the construction of a dam in the Shan State,   which will serve the Mekong power grid. The project has already had a   negative human rights impact through the displacement of people and   environmental disruption.

Cambodia : Gonzalo Solares of   the Catholic Relief Services in Cambodia reported that agriculture is   the main economic activity in Cambodia, employing 85% of the people and   contributing 37% to the GNP. Rice is the basic commodity. Currently,   the Government of Cambodia is in the application process for WTO   membership. The WTO accession agreement will require the reduction of   tariffs on all agricultural products and the elimination of all   domestic support for farmers. The only subsidies that would be   available to Cambodia are those under the Green Box provision for non   trade-distorting support, for example for training or research. There   has been no consultation between the government and civil society   during the accession process. The reduction of tariffs on rice will   certainly result in lower prices which is good for urban centres, but   it will put Cambodian farmers out of business. In order to reduce   production costs and raise productivity to improve competitiveness,   there must be investment in basic infrastructure such as roads. But   Cambodia does not have the resources for such projects and the   provision of resources does not factor into the WTO accession process.

Malaysia : Arul Arutchelvan, representing   SUARAM, a human rights organization based in Kuala Lumpur, painted a   bleak picture of life in Malaysia under the internal security laws   which have been in effect for several years and which undermine   democracy and human rights. Mr. Arutchelvan noted that although   Malaysia is a prosperous country, it has no freedom of speech or of the   media, unions are not independent and deaths while in police custody   are common. There are 3 million migrant workers in Malaysia who work in   the absence of any human rights protection. Prosperity has been   accompanied by a rate of inequality that is one of the highest in Asia.   Regional trade agreements have resulted in the loss of factory jobs to   China and have turned Malaysia, once a food-exporting country, to a   food-importing country. Agricultural workers and indigenous peoples   have been displaced by large infrastructure projects and commercial   development.

Thailand :Witoon Lianchamroon of FTA-Watch in Bangkok outlined what he described as decreasing   respect for human rights and democracy under the current Thai   leadership. He pointed to the recent violence in southern Thailand as a   symptom of new policies which are imposed through a system   characterised by corruption and cronyism. In addition to being a member   of ASEAN, Thailand has entered into ten bilateral trade agreements,   including agreements with China and Australia. There are negotiations   ongoing with India and the United States. As a result of these   agreements, Thailand has eliminated tariffs on fruit, vegetables and   dairy. The United States is pressing for the opening of Thailand's   agricultural sector to genetically-modified food. One third of   Thailand's garlic and onion producers have already lost their   livelihoods; an estimated 100,000 dairy farms will close within ten   years and more than 2 million corn and soy farmers are expected to lose   their livelihoods to cheap GMO grain imports from the US. FTA-Watch is   a new organization that has been established in order to raise public   awareness of these issues.

Philippines:Marie Hilao-Enriquez of Karapatan in the Philippines, said that in recent years the   Philippines has witnessed increased suppression of human rights due   partly to the increase of military activities framed as 'the war on   terror'. Dissidents and social activists are labelled either   terrorists or communists or communist-terrorists and these labels have   had a negative impact on their personal security. Globalisation has   also had an impact. Liberalization of the agriculture sector has led to   the loss of close to one million jobs in the poultry sector alone.   Indigenous people have been pushed off their land by the influx of   foreign mining and logging corporations. The number one export from the   Philippines is labour, destabilizing families and communities. Growing   poverty coupled with militarization and intimidation of trade unions is   exacerbating social unrest and creating a cycle of poverty, unrest and   violence.

Open Discussion: Panel 6

Discussion   following the presentation of country case studies focused on the   obstacles faced by civil society in countries where human rights are   not respected and basic democratic freedoms do not exist. Speakers   observed that the country case studies indicate that regional   cooperation may actually be undermining efforts to promote human rights   in the region rather than the other way around. This conclusion led   again to a debate regarding tactics and strategies for change. For   example, is it realistic to engage the regional cooperation processes   or is it more advisable for civil society to strengthen its capacity at   the national level coupled with regional networking? It was agreed that   there should be a variety of approaches depending on the national   context and the priorities of our various organizations and networks.

Some   proposals for regional collaborative initiatives were put forward for   consideration, including, for example: increased solidarity across   borders and sectors; conceptualization and promotion of alternate   development models; greater participation in anti-war movements; and   improved collaboration between intellectuals and activists. This   discussion forum set the tone for the strategy workshops that followed.

Workshops: Strategies for action

Seminar   participants were divided into 3 smaller groups and each group was   requested to respond to the same set of questions aimed at the   development of specific follow-up activities. The questions were:  

  • Is it advisable to work together towards the creation of a regional human rights mechanism? If so, how?  
  • Is   there usefulness in addressing globalisation through the lens of   regional cooperation initiatives such as SAARC and ASEAN? If so, how?  
  • Is   there a need for Asia-wide or sub-regional coordination of civil   society activities around human rights in the context of globalisation?   If so, how?

Closing Plenary

The   closing plenary comprised reports from the three working groups   followed by a facilitated effort to synthesize the various responses to   the workshop questions. It should be noted that not all groups   responded fully to all questions and not all groups understood the   questions in the same way. Nevertheless, certain common trends emerged   and these were compiled for reference, to be used by individual   organizations or as ideas for collaborative initiatives depending on   interest. In addition, some workshops had agreed to assign   responsibility for some tasks, while others did not. It was therefore   agreed, as the first follow-up action, that a new email listserv   devoted to human rights in Asia, be established to facilitate ongoing   discussion and collaboration.

In response to the three questions, the common views emerged as follows:  
  • Although   a formalized human rights mechanism in Asia would be a positive step   and welcomed by the group, the current political reality is such that   it is not advisable for civil society organizations to devote their   human and financial resources towards this goal at this time. There   was, however, some interest expressed in efforts aimed at making   national human rights institutions more effective.
  • Participants   felt that there is a need to have better understanding of the regional   cooperation agreements and more analysis of their impacts. It was   important, they agreed, to keep the regional processes in mind when   developing advocacy positions around globalisation and human rights.   However, most participants were reluctant to adopt a focus on the   regional processes at the expense of attention to the multilateral   (WTO) and national grassroots organizing.  
  • Everyone agreed that   greater coordination of civil society on a regional level would promote   popular understanding of the relationship between human rights and   economic policy in general.

Following the working group reports, the seminar participants formulated specific recommendations for joint action as follows:

  1. Participants will exchange information via a listserve to be established by the APRN secretariat.  
  2. Dependent   on financial resources, participants will meet again on the margins of   the ASEAN leaders' summit, with the aim of expanding the network of   civil society organizations interested in advocating human rights in   the context of regional integration.  
  3. A process will be   developed towards the adoption of a regional "People's Charter". The   process will be an educational exercise beginning at the community   level and progressing towards a national and then regional civil   society statement of principles.  
  4. Participants will lend their   active support to human rights defenders who oppose economic policy in   their countries and they will promote increased regional solidarity in   support of democracy movements in Burma, Nepal and Bhutan.  
  5. Colin   Gonsalvez and Basil Fernando will submit a proposal to the group for   the establishment of a "hunger alert" or 'hunger early-warning   mechanism'.  
  6. Glenda Litong and Edre Olalia will submit a   proposal for a case law database, which would include not only a record   of successful legal challenges based on human rights law in the region,   but also a compilation of relevant legislation from Asian countries.  
  7. Participants   will, in their public policy and advocacy initiatives around   globalisation and its relationship to the war on terror, promote the   interdependence and indivisibility of human rights.  
  8. Participants will, whenever possible, promote a human rights framework for development policy.  
  9. Participants will collaborate in the formulation of human rights training for Asian youth.

Program of Activities
Author: Secretariat, APRN

June 4, 2004

ARRIVALS - Welcome dinner at Subic International Hotel


June 5, 2004



8:00 AM - 9:00 AM

Registration and Welcome


9:00 - 9:30





Opening Remarks by Iris Almeida, Director Policy, Programmes & Planning of Rights and Democracy, with introduction by Antonio Tujan, Jr. (Chair, Asia Pacific Research Network) as Host

9:30 - 10:30

Panel Discussion




Global and Asian context of regional cooperation


Proposed speakers: T. Rajamoorthy (TWN) for global


Dr. Mohanty for the Asian context


10:30 - 11:00

Coffee Break

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM




The concept of human rights and their relationship to trade and investment


Proposed speakers: Basil Fernando (AHRC)


Glenda Litong


12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Open Forum/Discussion


1:00 - 2:30



2:30 - 3:30

Panel Discussion




Review of specific agreements including political and economic analysis of specific trade agreements


Sandeep Pendse for SAARC


Vicky Corpuz for ASEAN


3:30 - 4:00

Coffee Break


4:00 - 5:00





Review of available human rights mechanisms


Proposed speakers:
Gopal Siwakoti (Nepal Policy Institute)


Nimalka Fernando (IMADR)


5:00 - 6:00

Open Discussion


June 6, 2004


9:00 AM - 11:00

Panel Discussion on Case studies on the impacts on human rights



Sectoral Studies:

Worker's Rights

Apo Leung, AMRC


Peasant's Rights

Henry Saragih or Indra Lubis, FSPI

to be confirmed

Indigenous People and Mining

Vicky Corpuz, AWIN


Food Sovereignty

Gilbert Sape, PANAP


Migrant Labour

Ramon Bultron

to be confirmed

11-00 AM - 1:00 PM

Panel Discussion on Case studies on the impacts on human rights



Country case studies:

ODA and human rights in China

Sophia Woodman, Hongkong University



Witoon Leanchamroon, FTA Watch



Marie Hilao, Karapatan

to be confirmed


Tek Nath Rijal

to be confirmed


Feryal Guahar

to be confirmed


Charm Tong

to be confirmed


Dr. Benedict Alo D'Rozario

to be confirmed


Gonzalo Solares

to be confirmed

1:00 - 2:30

Lunch break


Workshops on Sub-region


Workshops on strategies for action


June 7, 2004


9:00 - 10:00

Workshop report backs

10:00 - 10:30

Coffee Break

10:30 - 12:30

Compilation of strategies and follow-up commitments


Closing & Synthesis - Antonio Tujan Jr., APRN


Closing Luncheon

List of Participants
Author: Secretariat, APRN
Country Organization Participant's Name Address Email Phone/Fax status
Malaysia Third World Network Mr. T. Rajamoorthy 121-S, Jalan Utama 10450
Penang Malaysia
twnet@po.jaring.my +60-4-2266728 confirmed
Tenaganita Ms. Irene Fernandez Penthouse House Wisma MLS
No. 31 Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman 50100 Kuala Lumpur,Malaysia
tnita@streamyx.com / tenaganita@yahoo.co.uk 603-26913691/
Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Asia and the Pacific Mr.Gilbert Sape P.O. Box 1170, 10850
Hongkong Asia Paficic Mission on Migrants Mr. Ramon Bultron No.4 Jordan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong, PRC apmm@hknet.com +852-27237536/
Asia Monitor Resource Mr. Apo Leung 8-B 444 Nathan Road Kowloon, Hong Kong, PRC apo@amrc.org.hk +852-23321346/ +852-23855319 confirmed
Asian HR Commission Mr. Basil Fernando 19th Floor, Go Up Commercial Bldg., 998 Canton Road, Kowloon ahrchk@ahrchk.org; basilfwp@ahrchk.org   confirmed
Philippines Asia Pacific Research Network Mr. Antonio Tujan, Jr. 3/F SCC Bldg., 4427 Interior Old Sta. Mesa, Manila atujan@info.com.ph +632-7132737/ +632-7160108 confirmed
ESC Rights Asia Ms. Glenda Litong Rm. 209 2nd Flr., ICSI, ISO Bldg. Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights, Quezon City daglenz@justice.com +632-4265953/ +632-4266070 confirmed
Karapatan Ms. Marie Enriquez-Hilao 43 Masikap St., Brgy. Pi ƒÆ’ ±ahan, Quezon City 1100 PHILIPPINES karapatan@edsamail.com.ph/ krptn@philonline.com +632-4354146/ +632-9286078 confirmed
Asian Women Indigenous Network Ms. Vicky Corpuz No.1 Roman Ayson Rd., Campo Filipino 2600 Baguio City tebtebba@skyinet.net +6374-4447703/ +6374-4439459 confirmed
Public Interest Law Center Mr. Edre Olalia 4th Floor KAIJA Bldg., 7836 Makati Ave. cor. Valdez St., Makati City pilc@tri-isys.com; edurem@tri-isys.com +632-8993439/ +632-8993416 confirmed
Indonesia La Via Campesina- Indonesia will send name JL Karya Jaya No. 176, Medan 20143 Indonesia petani@indosat.net.id    
Thailand Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development Ms. Mary Jane Real Santhitham YMCA Building, 3rd Flr. Room 305-308, 11 Soi Mengrairasmi, Sermsuk Road Chiang Mai 50300 apwld@apwld.org/ amarsanaa@apwid.org +6653-404613/ +6653-404615 confirmed
Forum Asia Mr. Kamol Kamoltrakul 109 Suthisarnwinichai Road,Samsennok, huay Kwang, Bangkok 10320 kamol@forumasia.org +662-2769846 to 7 ext.0 / +662-6934939 confirmed
BIO THAI/ FTA Watch Mr. Witoon Lianchamroon 801/8 Ngamwongwan 27 Soi 5, Muang District Nonthaburi 11000, Thailand biothai@biothai.net +662-9527953/ +662-9527371 confirmed
Bhutan Human Rights Council of Bhutan Ms. Radha Adhikari       confirmed
Pakistan UN Ambassador for Population Ms. Feryal Gauhar   cinemaya@aol.com   confirmed
India Human Rights Law Network, Right to Food Campaign Mr. Colin Gonsalvez 65 Masjid Road, Jungpura, New Delhi, India 110 014 slicdehli@vsnl.net +9111-24319857 confirmed
Vikas Adhyayan Kendra Mr. Sandeep Pendse D-1 Shivdham 62 Link Rd. Malad (W) Mumbai, 400064 India sandeeppendse@hathway.com +9122-28822850/ +9122-28898941 confirmed
People's Watch-Tamil Nadu Mr. Henri Tiphagne No.6 Valladi Road, Chokkikulam, Mudarai - 625 002 India henry@satyam.net.in; henritiphagne@eth.net +452-2539520 confirmed
BOAO Forum for Asia Mr. Manoranjan Mohanty   dr_mohanty@yahoo.com   confirmed
Ms. Bidyut Mohanty       confirmed
Nepal Campaign for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Mr. Gopal Siwakoti 'Chintan' P.O. Box 2125 60 New Plaza Marga Kathmandu Nepal


+9777-1-419610 confirmed
South Asia Forum for Human Rights Mr. Tapan Bose 3/23 Shree Durbar Tole, Patan Dhoka, Kathmandu, Lalitput Nepal 12855 tapan@safhr.org; south@safhr.org   confirmed
Sri Lanka IMADRN Ms. Nimalka Fernando 22 1/6, Pedris Road, Colombo 3 Sri Lanka imadr@slt.lk; imadrn@sltnet.lk +941-682505/9 confirmed
Burma Concerned Individuals Ms. Charm Tong P.O. Box 120 Phrasingh Post Office Chiangmai 50200 Thailand charmtong2@yahoo.com   confirmed
US Catholic Relief Service Ms. Daisy Francis   dfrancis@catholicrelief.org   confirmed





Catholic Relief Service - South Asia Regional Office Mr. Paul Hicks   phicks@crs-mindanao.org.ph   confirmed
Catholic Relief Service Mr. Gonzalo Solares #14 St. 278, BKK1 Phnom Penh, Cambodia gsolares@bigpond.com.kh

(855-23) 211165 / (855-23) 216960

Indian Social Institute Mr. Prakash Louis 1S1, Lodi Road, New Delhi, 110004 prakash@unv.ernet.in   confirmed
Bangladesh Caritas Bangladesh Mr. Benedict D'Rozario 2, Outer Circular Road Shantlbagh, Dhaka-1217 Bangladesh ddmd@caritasdb.org +880-2-8314993 confirmed
Canada Rights and Democracy Ms. Carol Samdup 1001, boul de Maisonneuve Est, Bureau, Montreal (Quebec) Canada H2L 4P9
csamdup@ichrdd.ca +514 - 283-6073 confirmed
Rights and Democracy
Ms. Iris Almeida
1001, boul de Maisonneuve Est, Bureau, Montreal (Quebec) Canada H2L 4P9
  +514 - 283-3792
Paper: Global Context of Regional Cooperation
Author: T. Rajamoorthy

Regional economic cooperation is not a new phenomenon. Since the end of the 2nd World War, the phenomenon has manifested itself in all the major continents of the world. One important facet of such cooperation is the signing of regional trading agreements.

Richard Pomfret in his book The Economics of Regional Trading Arrangements has identified 3 waves of such regionalism. 1

The first of these began in the early 50s in Europe and culminated towards the end of the decade with the signing of the Treaty of Rome in 1957 (which established the European Economic Community or EEC) and the 1959 Stockholm Convention (which created the European Free Trade Association or EFTA comprised mainly of the seven non-EEC countries). After a short period of rivalry between these two blocs, there was a process of rapprochement in the 60s and 70s, with the two blocs forming a free trade area in manufactured goods in 1972. The process of regional integration revived in the 80s with a 1985 White Paper which launched the programme for creating a single market by 1992. This programme, together with the unexpected collapse of the Soviet bloc in Eastern Europe in 1989, ushered in a new expansion of the EU - a process which has recently witnessed the accession of 10 new members to the bloc.

A second wave of regionalism took place in the 80s and this was primarily a US initiative. It began with the negotiations for the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement (CUSTA) initiated in 1986 and which were concluded in 1988 with the signing of the agreement between the two countries. Two years later, moves began to expand the treaty to include Mexico and this culminated in the emergence of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in August 1992. Since NAFTA came into force in 1994, there has been a drive to further enlarge the free trade agreement to embrace the whole of the continent (Free Trade Area of the Americas or FTAA). The process, which began with the Miami Summit of the Americas in December 1994, is scheduled to be completed by the year 2005.

According to Pomfret, the third wave of regionalism, which is gathering force at the beginning of the 21st century, is one led by Asian countries. Although the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established in 1967 and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in 1985, he is of the opinion that the real emergence of Asian regionalism should be dated from the aftermath of the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

While it is certainly open to question whether developments in Asian regionalism have been sufficiently pronounced and significant to warrant the description of them as a "wave", what is missing in the above analysis is the development and revival of regionalism in both Latin America and Africa in the 90s.

In this respect, the most important of the Latin American initiatives was the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), which originated in March 1991 with the conclusion of an agreement by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay to set up a common market by the end of 1994. Chile and Bolivia became associate members in 1996, and Peru in 2003. The 90s also witnessed a revival of the Andean Pact and the Central American Common Market (CACM) (see pg. 4).

In the same decade there was also some revitalisation of regionalism in Africa. The most significant was the transformation in 1992 of the Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference (SADCC, founded in 1979) into the Southern African Development Community (SADC). In 1996, the 12 members committed themselves to the establishment of a free trade area within 8 years.

While it is evident that the trend towards regionalism has been a fact of international life throughout the post-war period, it is nevertheless true to say that the whole process has gained in impetus and momentum in the last few decades. The question arises as to the factors that have propelled this movement since the 90s. It would appear there are four important factors that have been crucial in this regard.

1 The end of the cold war

This has perhaps been the most important determinant in shaping the drive towards regionalism. The cold war congealed and froze all international economic relations along ideological/strategic lines. In such an environment, the scope for regionalism was limited and more often than not, such blocs as emerged were unable or unwilling to transcend the defining ideological/strategic limits. It was the end of the cold war and the thaw that followed that made possible the realisation of the full potentialities of regionalism.

Perhaps the best illustration of the decisive impact of the end of the cold war is the expansion of ASEAN, to include Vietnam and the other countries of Indo-China. ASEAN was founded as an anti-Communist bloc at the height of the cold war to contain "Vietnamese expansionism". Yet by 1995, the world situation had so changed that it seemed almost a natural process for Vietnam to join its erstwhile enemies as a member of this regional body. Such a development would have been inconceivable if the cold war had not ended. The expansion of ASEAN to include the Indo-China countries, as well as the body's new relationship with China, were the fruits of the end of the cold war.

It is also worth noting that it was the end of the cold war that was instrumental in reviving SAARC. Although founded in 1985, it is significant that it was only in 1993 that a framework of preferential treatment was signed.

Finally, it is in Europe that we have witnessed the most dramatic impact of the end of the cold war on regionalism. The accession of the countries of Eastern Europe which were formerly part of the Soviet bloc to the European Union is a development made possible by the end of the cold war.

2 Globalisation

An even more important factor in facilitating regionalism has been the phenomenon of globalisation. (The term is used here in its widest sense, both as a process and as a set of policies facilitating the process.)

a) Globalisation as an expansion of capitalist relations of production has been instrumental in the enlargement of the space for regionalism. While the end of the cold war created the conditions for such enlargement, the scope for the participation of countries such as Vietnam and China would have been restricted had they pursued a developmental model other than capitalism. However, by undertaking 'capitalist' economic reforms and by integrating their economies into the world capitalist system, the erstwhile Socialist regimes have jettisoned the obstacles to a wider and deeper regional economic co-operation and integration with their capitalist neighbours.

Apart from breaking down the barriers between countries which formerly pursued different economic models of development, the world-wide ideological hegemony of neo-liberalism has resulted in the liberalisation of trade, investment and even finance by governments everywhere. By so facilitating the unhindered movement of capital, goods and services across frontiers, the foundation has been laid for regional integration and cooperation, whenever the conditions are appropriate.

Ironically enough, it is not only the triumph of globalisation that has resulted in the expansion of regionalism. The crisis engendered by it has also served to promote regionalism. Two examples are instructive.

In September 1985, more than a decade after the breakdown of the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates and the liberalisation of financial markets, the Reagan administration became concerned about the soaring exchange rate of the dollar in relation with the yen. As a result of what became known as the Plaza Agreement (because it was sealed at the Plaza Hotel in New York), the US and Japan agreed to intervene in the markets to lower the value of the dollar in relation to the yen. 2 Faced with the problem of a rising yen which made Japanese goods less competitive, Japan began a process of shifting its production offshore, with South East Asia as the principal beneficiary.

The move by Japanese corporations to relocate their production to South East Asia was a turning point in the relations between South East Asia and Japan. With South East Asia becoming tightly integrated into a common Japanese production and trade network, Japan acquired a vested interest in the economic fate of the region. When some 12 years later, the Asian financial crisis broke out, Japan moved to bail out the region from the crisis by launching an Asian Monetary Fund. Although US opposition caused the plan to be aborted, Japan had established her regional role in South East Asia and laid the basis for cooperation with South East Asian countries. Later in 2001, that role was crystallised with Japan's participation in the Chiang Mai Initiative.

3 "Challenge and response"

A major move towards regionalism in one part of the world is quite often viewed by other regional actors as a challenge which calls for a regional response. Thus the emergence of the EU and NAFTA provoked responses in other regions of the world. In Latin America, the birth of MERCOSUR in 1991 can be viewed as a response to these developments. The emergence of the EU and NAFTA also provoked a revival of other seemingly moribund regional bodies. The Andean Pact, founded in December 1970 but effectively dead by the late 80s, was revived in the 90s with a free trade area which came into existence in 1995. Likewise, CACM was reactivated in the 90s, with a "free trade zone" which came into effect by the end of 1992.

In Asia, the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) came into existence as a response to the emergence of the EU and NAFTA. And former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad's rationale for pushing for the development of an East Asia Economic Caucus was the emergence of the EU and NAFTA.

It is important to note that to many regional players, a threat may be perceived as arising not only from an external trading bloc, but also from within the regional body of which they are members. In this respect, the US is clearly viewed as a threat by many Latin American members of the FTAA and there has indeed been a strong response to the US attempts to dominate and shape the FTAA project to serve its interests.

Members of MERCOSUR (other than Uruguay) have in recent years taken positive steps to strengthen their own regional body in anticipation of the development of the FTAA. At the FTAA negotiations in Miami in November last year, they made it clear that they would be negotiating as a bloc with the US. What they seek is a "balanced" free trade area marked by "a spirit of reciprocity". Their blueprint is for a "flexible" agreement under which countries can opt out of certain parts of the accord and continue to negotiate others.

In December last year, these members of MERCOSUR took an important step in strengthening their position by signing an "economic complementarity accord" with the Andean Community in order to strengthen and improve political and trade relations. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva made no secret of the fact that "the stronger the MERCOSUR and Andean Community are, the stronger they will be in the negotiations of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)..." 3

4 Crisis or impasse in multilateral trade system

A key factor that has propelled nations to turn to regionalism has been the failure of the multilateral trading system or a serious deadlock in such negotiations. Thus the Latin American nations that came together at Asuncion in March 1991 to establish MERCOSUR did so because "they were frustrated at the slow pace of multilateral trade negotiations". 4

It is often said that the US experienced a similar frustration with the slow pace of the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations and it was this that prompted it to resort to unilateralism and regionalism i.e. CUSTA and NAFTA. Here a note of caution is necessary and it is important to distinguish the conduct of the US from that of the Third World nations. Third World countries generally resort to regionalism as a defensive measure, or when multilateralism fails or appears to fail. In contrast, the US has always pursued, in an aggressive fashion, a two-track strategy, i.e. both multilateralism and regionalism, to secure its interests. Those who argue that when the US initiated the CUSTA and later the NAFTA negotiations, the Uruguay Round negotiations were facing an uncertain future, ignore the fact that even after NAFTA had come into force in 1994, there was no let-up in the momentum to further expand NAFTA into the FTAA. The FTAA negotiations commenced in December 1994, when the Uruguay Round negotiations were being successfully concluded.

Clearly, for the US, regionalism has not been an imposition, but a matter of choice. In this respect, at present, the US seems to be more interested in pushing forward with the FTAA than in breaking the current impasse at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). This is because it perceives the FTAA to be more advantageous to it. For a start, the FTAA will offer US corporations preferential treatment which will be denied to the EU and other major competitors outside the Americas. In addition to a virtually 'closed' market, the FTAA is tailor-made to meet the demands of US corporations in that, in respect of matters such as intellectual property and legal remedies to pursue claims, it would confer greater rights to corporations than those granted by the WTO agreements i.e. it is "WTO-plus." An additional consideration may be that there is probably less resistance to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Latin America than in Europe or other parts of the world.

Regionalism and the problem of South-South cooperation

Finally, for those of us concerned with the problem of development and human rights, the question of the relationship between regionalism and South-South cooperation has to be considered.

South-South trade is an important component of South-South cooperation and one useful mechanism for such trade is the Global System of Trade Preferences (GSTP). The GSTP is an agreement by developing countries for mutual reduction of tariffs which is administered by a secretariat located in the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The GSTP is permitted under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and hence it does not require any special waiver by the WTO. Unlike the WTO, where because of the MFN (most favoured nation) principle any reduction of tariffs has to be extended to all member states (regardless of whether they are developed or developing), the benefit of a reduction of tariffs within the GSTP is limited only to the developing countries which are members of the GSTP. A first round of negotiations was launched in 1989 when the GSTP was established, but the second round became bogged down in dispute over the right of non-participating developing countries to receive the benefits of the GSTP.

It is obviously in the interests of developing countries to fully exploit this GSTP programme (mutual trade of GSTP members was estimated to be close to $2 trillion in 2000) so that they share the benefit of tariff reduction among themselves, rather than confer it on the rich countries. The same result can be obtained by entering into agreements for regional economic cooperation, PROVIDED all the member states are developing countries.

However, problems arise when regional groupings are not confined to developing countries. Gamani Corea, the former Secretary-General of UNCTAD, highlighted this problem several years ago:

"Recent years have witnessed the emergence of cooperation groupings that link up the major industrialised countries of the world with some, but not all, developing countries. Such 'mega blocs' as the European Union, NAFTA and APEC include developing countries either as members or as partners enjoying special relationships. They aim at preferential or free trade arrangements among the participants that overlap or cut across the arrangement of South-South groupings. This development, whatever its merits, runs counter to the concept of 'generalised' preferences for all developing countries that won acceptance as far back as 1964 at UNCTAD I and that came, since then, to be incorporated, as the Generalized System of Preferences - the GSP - into the tariff regimes of the developed countries. It raises the problem of the exclusion or discriminatory treatment of non-members of these groupings by their members, be they developed or developing countries, as well as of 'patron-client' relationships among the members themselves. Issues such as these are made even more complex by the membership of individual countries in multiple cooperation groupings and arrangements." 5

Clearly, this is a worrying trend. It results in the fragmentation of the South and slowly undermines the whole concept of South-South cooperation. In this respect, it is distressing to note that countries that formerly criticised this trend have now decided to participate in such arrangements, presumably because they fear losing out altogether if they do not join the bandwagon. While moves such as those taken by the MERCOSUR countries to improve their bargaining position within the FTAA are welcome, they are purely defensive moves which do not address the heart of the problem.

In this context, the call made by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to member states of the Group of 20 (G20) last December for a free trade agreement among themselves is to be welcomed. Whatsoever the difficulties of realising such a proposal, the merit of it is that it does bring back to the fore the whole question of South-South cooperation. In any case, as President Lula stressed, his proposal was put forward so that ministerial delegations could "carefully reflect" on it with the aim of discussing it during the 11th Meeting of UNCTAD, which is slated to be held on 13-18 June in Sao Paulo. At the time of writing, news has just emerged of a decision to launch a third round of trade negotiations among developing countries under the GSTP on the occasion of the UNCTAD meeting. An interesting aspect of this decision is that besides GSTP members, interested members of the Group of 77 and China have been invited to participate in the third round. It is to be hoped that the UNCTAD conference will come out with constructive proposals to enhance South-South cooperation.


1. Richard Pomfret (1997), The Economics of Regional Trading Arrangements, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2. Paul Volcker and Toyoo Gyohten (1992), Changing Fortunes: The World's Money and the Threat to American Leadership, New York: Times Books, p. 229.

3. Raul Pierri (2003), "Huge stride towards South American integration", South-North Development Monitor (SUNS), No. 5486, 19 December.

4. Stephen Browne (1998), "Expanding Lateral Partnerships", Cooperation South, No. 2, p. 87.

5. Gamani Corea (1996), " The Importance of South-South Cooperation in the Contemporary World of Globalisation and Liberalisation", Cooperation South, Winter 1996.

Paper: Unfolding the Asian visions: Regional cooperation in the Asian Context
Author: Manoranjan Mohanty

Multiple layers of self-assertion in the contemporary world:

Addressing the annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia ( 24-25 April 2004) Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen called for three kinds of transformations in Asia : 1) from internal conflicts to a zone of peace and cooperation, 2) from imbalanced development to comprehensive and harmonious development ; 3) from poverty and under- development to epicentre of prosperity. This by and large reflects the nature of the political and economic processes going on in the contemporary Asia. They involve recognition of multiple levels of self-assertion by deprived or alienated groups within and across countries all of whom are reckoning with the forces of globalisation and going through various kinds of economic reforms. If the efforts at regional cooperation focus only on trade and economic growth without addressing these demands they may actually accentuate social tensions .

The internal conflicts within countries are mostly connected with the autonomy movements by cultural and regional groups seeking self-determination and various democratic rights movements , especially agrarian movements and tribal struggles. Until recently, these demands were seen by the leaders of the nation states as fissiparous and separatist campaigns to disintegrate the postcolonial states. In recent years however, there is increasing appreciation of the nature of the demands resulting in peace talks in various countries. In south Asia the talks with LTTE in Sri Lanka, the Naga peace talks leading to cease-fire in northeast India and the initial steps towards dialogue on Kashmir are some examples of the new trend.. Peace talks with the Maoists in Nepal may be resumed to end the deadlock and violence. Many of these autonomy movements and social upsurges have international dimensions; therefore the solutions of internal problems requires creating an international environment conducive to peace. Regional disparities within each country often lead to the alienation of the people of the underdeveloped regions. There are regions of poverty in every country , and more extensively in south Asia. Hence, tackling poverty and regional disparity have emerged as major goals in the current phase of economic reforms in many countries including China and India.

Thus the contemporary Asian environment has three vertical levels of self assertion "" at the level of regions within the countries, at the level of countries/nations and at the trans-national level. Horizontally, the class, caste, race, ethnic and gender based domination are the basis of many social struggles.The current process of globalization has to recognize these multiple levels of self-assertion. The important task is how to reconcile these levels to mutual benefits. No level can subdued by another level and each level has to prove its positive advantages for the lower as well as for higher levels. A nation state or multi-national state values its sovereignty that it has achieved after long years of anti-colonial struggle. But today it is called upon to exercise it by granting autonomy to regions and groups within it. At the same time many layers of integration are now emerging above the nation states- at the levels of regions in Asia , at the continental level and the at the level of the third world or the South or the developing countries and also many issue -based regional and global formations. Thus the discourse on regional cooperation has to be located in a framework of multi-layered self-assertion and integration.

It should be pointed out that most of the current initiatives at region al cooperation take the national governments as their units of cooperation. No doubt they are the most important agencies of cooperation but they often remain insensitive to the aspirations of autonomy struggles and people's movements. At the non-governmental level many organizations have come up particularly the NGO networks facilitated by SAARC and ASEAN. Business groups have also evolved their own networks through the operational channels of the multinational corporations. But there is clear gap between the intergovernmental and the NGO networks. The gap has been relatively lessened because of the UN summits which usually have NGO forums in addition to government representatives' meetings. Still the gap persists because people's organizations and social movement groups have very little networking on a sustained basis. The problem is further confounded by the fact that collaboration among academics of the Asian countries remains minimal. Only when cooperative links are forged at all the four levels- government, NGO, people's organizations and academics "" can regional cooperation advance smoothly.

Resurgence of Asia:

In the recent years we have seen a continental self-assertion in Asia. After two centuries of struggle people of Asia begun to perceive themselves as Asians with historical, cultural and transformative identities.

For one and a half-century western colonialism had plundered Asia and it so divided Asian territories that a pan-Asian identity could not emerge. Some thinkers like Rabindranath Tagore and leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru did try to articulate the Asian visions. Tagore spoke of Asian civilization in his lectures in China and Japan. Nehru talked about Asian nationalism in Glimpses of World History. The Japanese militarists' concept of an Asian Co-prosperity Sphere had done considerable damage to the concept of Asia already.

The second half of the twentieth century saw post- colonial Asian countries pitted against one another as a result of the cold war policies of the super powers. The Bandung Conference of the Asian and African countries in 1955 was an important initiative to counter cold war politics. But they did not succeed in consolidating anti-imperialist forces. Western social science writings including the area studies scholars emphasized the diversity and disparateness of Asian countries and regions so much that the concept of Asia remained almost an illusion. Only after the end of the cold war and the rise of a new wave of self "" assertion throughout the continent of Asia a new climate of regional identity began to develop.

Asia was now seen as a civilisational zone extending from Egypt to Japan and Mongolia to Sri Lanka or beyond where great religions and cultural systems such as Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Confucianism flourished and interacted with each other together with large varieties of local religions and cultures for at least two millennia. The Himalayas and the rivers flowing from them on all sides and the large stretches of dryland and pastures constitute the geo- cultural region of Asia .

Besides, the anti -colonial history of Asian countries had enduring legacies of agrarian revolution and multi-dimensional liberation. During the past half century the economic development experience of Asian countries especially the experiments with various models of Gandhi and Nehru, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, the East Asian tigers and dragons and the oil economies, the practice of planning and market reforms "" all this presented unique experiences. As many Asian countries exhibited their self-confidence by their economic successes, political voice and highlighting their cultural and natural resources at the dawn of the twenty-first century there was the talk of an Asian century. No doubt, China's economic success, the performance of ASEAN and Japan and other East Asian countries have made a major contribution to this new image of Asia. But equally important has been the rise of democratic consciousness of people of Asia. The cumulative force of the new middle class, the entrepreneurs, the awakened peasants and workers, the women's movement has made a significant impact on this new situation.

There are similar trends of resurgence in Africa and South America as well. But for historical reasons the forces of transformation are more active today in Asia though the other two continents are fast catching up. What is significant is that the three continents are coming together on global economic issues. In this effort the initiative taken by Brazil, South Africa, India and China has been crucial as was evident in Cancun.

Growing Asian Initiatives

Though the new Asian consciousness has not translated itself into many continental level organizations still some of the regional associations have made remarkable progress. In Asia the most successful experience in regional cooperation is that of ASEAN which already set up an ASEAN Free Trade Area in 1992. It aims at becoming an ASEAN Community by 2020. The Bali Summit in October 2003 agreed on what it called the " ‹Å“Three Pillars on ASEAN community' viz. Political and security cooperation; economic cooperation and socio-cultural cooperation. ASEAN had already agreed to have a free trade area with China by 2010 and with India by 2011 and with Japan in the following year.

In South Asia, the process of regional cooperation has been much slower. However, the twelfth SAARC Summit held in Islamabad on 4-6 January 2004 turned out to be a landmark. Besides the India "" Pakistan peace initiative taken by Vajpayee and Musharraf the SAARC Summit adopted the SAFTA Framework Treaty. The SAARC leaders agreed to reduce tariffs in the region in two phases to 0-5% partly by 1 January 2006 and fully by 31 December 2015. The leaders also agreed to set up a South Asian Economic Union and explored the possibility of the establishment of the South Asian Development Bank. The adoption of the SAARC social chapter was another successful event of this Summit. 2004 was designated as the SAARC Awareness Year. Vajpayee also floated the idea of a South Asian currency.

India 's Look East Policy launched by the PV Narasimha Rao regime in the early 1990s has not only led to closer cooperation with ASEAN but also to participation in another regional initiative called BIMST-EC ( Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand- Economic Cooperation). Its Sixth Ministerial meeting in Phukat in Thailand on 8 January 2004 adopted the Framework Agreement of BIMST-EC Free Trade Area. It also chalked out a program of cooperation in developing hydropower projects, air links, shipping and highway linkages. The first BIMST-EC Summit is scheduled for 30-31 July 2004 in Bangkok.

Whereas ASEAN, SAARC and BIMST-EC were either South East Asian or South Asian initiatives the Sanghai Cooperation Organization ( SCO) was mainly a Chinese initiative. The in 1996 the Shanghai Five consisted of three central Asian republics-Kazakhstan, Kirgystan, Turkmenistan - the republics of the erstwhile Soviet Union, Russia and China. Uzbekistan became a formal member later when it formally constituted itself as the Sanghai Cooperation Organization in 2000. Its original tasks focused on handling boundary issues, tackling separatism, religious fundamentalism and terrorism. Gradually the functions acquired significant economic and strategic dimensions. The profitable utilisation of natural resources of Central Asia, which attracted the western corporate interests to the region became important items in the agenda of the SCO framework.

Whereas the above aforesaid initiatives are intergovernmental there are some non-governmental or semi-governmental forums for regional cooperation. The BCIM is one such example.

BCIM on Track II

An initiative was taken by the scholars, business groups and officials in China's Yunan province through the Yunan Academy of Social Sciences to promote regional cooperation among the neighboring regionsand countries of China's Yunan Province. The first conference of scholars and business interests from Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM) was convened in Kumming in August 1999. The participants agreed on exploring the ways to improve cooperation in tourism, transport , connectivity and border trade. The first round of meetings had been completed in New Delhi (2001), Dacca ( 2002) and Yangoon ( 2003). The Government of India had not yet shown adequate interest in this effort thought it had not shown any hostility to the idea. As Sino-Indian relations imroved and their trade developed steadily, security sensitivity in disputed the border area which was also a region of insurgency began to give place to confident policy making. So far only academic institutions had been involved in organising the conferences. The governmental involvement in China and Myanmar was fairly conspicuous from the beginning. The Chinese are keen to raise this initiative from track II to track I so that this effort graduates to the level of the SCO governments carry on the business of cooperation.. In the changing Asian environment it is not unlikely to see this grow into a n intergovernmental organisation for regional cooperation.

While the above initiatives were confined to regions of Asia another initiative has emerged as a pan-Asian effort, though it is only called a Forum "" the Boao Forum for Asia ( BFA). During the past three years BFA has emerged an important fulcrum of Asian initiatives.

Boao Forum for Asia since 2001

An initiative taken by former Philippines President Fidel Ramos, former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke, and the former Japanese Prime Minister M Hoshokawa and others including former Indian Prime Minister I K Gujral in the wake of the 1997 Asian financial crisis got enthusiastic response from China in 2000 leading to the creation of a forum for Asia. The idea was to bring together business leaders, political figures and academicians from Asian countries to have an annual conference at a permanent venue to discuss Asian economic problems and world development issues from Asian perspective. Boao in China's Hainan Province was chosen as a convenient venue in terms of distances from various parts of Asia.. The World Economic Forum at Davos is an inspiration for this effort though the BFA may have a wider functions as well to take up economic, social as well as environmental issues. Boao which was a tiny fishing village until four years ago is now a fast growing metropolis and a tourist attraction

Inaugurated by Jiang Zemin in 2001, the BFA recently held its third annual conference where the distinguished guests included the Prime Minister Jamali of Pakistan, the Cambodian Premier and the President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Claus. The President of Tajikstan Romanov who was the key note speaker last year was also present . Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed who has been an important champion of third world interests returned to the Forum after two years. President Hu Jintao made an important speech in which he summed up the experiences of the past 25 years of reforms and assured that the 'peaceful rise of China' presented a great opportunity for peace and development in Asia and the world. Last year newly appointed Chinese premier Wen Jiabao had addressed the gathering. Over 1000 business representatives, political figures and scholars from 35 countries of Asia and the world including delegates from France, Sweden, UK and US participated in the conference.

Two visions of Asia have gently crisscrossed at the annual conferences of the Boao Forum for Asia . One perspective was clearly laid out by the Secretariat led by BFA Secretary-General Long Yongtu, PRC's former Trade Negotiator with WTO who took charge in early 2003 after a short tenure by Malaysia's Ajit Singh. The organisers of BFA wished to assure the Western captains of globalisation that this Forum was not intended as a challenge to the World Economic Forum of Davos and that it was indeed a complementary initiative in Asia to help the Asian economies and entrepreneurs to cope with the challenges of international economic integration.

The other vision emerged from the speeches of some of the political leaders and a few academics and business executives which stressed the role of Asia in the movement for a just, fair and equitable world economic and political order. They too welcomed the idea of global economic integration, but that should reduce the gap between the north and the south and enable the countries to cope with their domestic economic and social problems. Asia had large poverty-stricken populations who demanded urgent attention. Economic globalisation had to address itself to the problems of farmers, workers and peple of backward regions.

Philippines' former President Ramos who is the President of the BFA Board spelt out his vision unambiguously of building a prosperous Asia as a united family which will contribute towards creating a stable and equitable international order. This echoed the sentiments expressed by Jiang Zemin in his inaugural speech in and by Mahathir Mohamed in his key note speech on the occasion of the opening of the Forum in 2001. In the first conference in 2002 the Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi stressed the importance of Asian cooperation and the then Chinese Premier Zhu Rongzhi had outlined a grand vision for a Win-Win path for Asia which has become a permanent theme note for BFA. The theme 2003 was : Asia searching for Win-Win: Development through Cooperation. i.e. how to ensure that all parties benefit out of the development process. For 2004 it was :Asian Development Path:A Win-Win Modality and Commitment

The Secretary-General of the Forum, Long Yongtu was China's Vice-Minister for Trade who had led the thirteen year long Chinese negotiations for entry into the WTO that fruitioned in December 2001. He was also a member of the Chinese Mission at UN and later a UN official. His vast experience was in action in the congregation of the top functionaries of WEF, World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the UNDP who have been prominent speakers at the various sessions of the BFA conferences . As an important representative of the Chinese government Long secured the full participation and support of the top Chinese leadership in BFA while at the same time bringing in the international intstitutions. It is believed that the first Sec-Gen Tano Sri Ajit Singh had faced problems of coordination with the Chinese government.

The programmes at Boao reflected much care taken by the Chinese about the Forum's character and diplomacy. In 2003 for example, the Inaugural session had one political leader, President Emomali Rakhmonov of Tajikistan and one business leader from Japan, Jiro Nemoto. Rakhmonov not only brought a Central Asian perspective into the conference, he called for united efforts for reducing poverty and regional disparity to advance peace and sustainable development in Asia . Nemoto referred to Asian values and declared that economic development and human development are two wheels of a cart; if one is weak the cart will be stuck.

At the 2003 conference, a cautious affirmation of Asian solidarity was the thread running throught the key note speeches of President Musharaf of Pakistan, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong of Singapore and the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. Musharaf who began his state visit to China from Boao urged the Conference to find out ways to integrate South Asia and Central Asia with the dynamic economic region of East and Southeast Asia so that Asian prosperity was not limited to pockets of growth in the Continent .Goh Chok Tong gave a celebratory account of ASEAN's steady progress and charted out possibilities of further cooperation among the ten member states together with their dialogue partners. Formation of a Free Trade Area of ASEAN with China in 2010, with India in 2011 and Japan in 2012 ,the ASEAN Economic Community by 2020 and the emerging trends in the economic cooperation between them figured prominently throughout the Conference. ASEAN's experience in regional integration, China's economic success, Japan's trend of recovery and India's IT industry were some of the strengths on which Asian cooperation can be designed.

The highlight of the third conference in April 2004 was Hu Jintao's speech in which he spoke of Asia's rejuvination and spelt out how China's development could contribute to it. " A developing China generates important opportunities for Asia', said Hu, referring to the growth of China as the third largest importer in the world, with $272 billion imports from the rest of Asia and Chinese investment expanding fast in Asia. Hu Jintao presented a much wider vision of Asian cooperation than trade and investment by presenting a five point approach:i). Enhancing political trust and good-neighbourliness based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, ii)expanding and deepening bilateral economic cooperation, iii) accelerating regional economic integration, iv) promoting cultural interaction and personnel exchanges and v) facilitating security dialogue and military-to-military exchanges and setting up a military security dialogue in Asia.

The BFA was still in a preliminary stage of Asian economic dialogue. As Sec-Gen Long Yongtu put it , though it was developing in the right direction it had a long distance to traverse before it became an influential forum in world economic affairs. Governments of Asian countries had not taken enough interest in it. The organisers still depended more on the retired leaders and a few other leaders from countries friendly to China. Government of India sent its Ambassador from Beijing to Boao only in 2003. Many governments treat it as a Chinese initiative rather than a multilateral initiative.

However, BFA is slowly growing into an active forum for exchange of ideas and launching of new initiatives at the asian level. The effort to set up an Asian Development Fund has made steady progress. China, Japan, South Korea and ASEAN have contributed $1 billion to set up a fund for Asian Bonds . Discussion on creating an Asian currency - an Asian Dollar invited considerable attention in the last conference at Boao. It was argued that such a currency zone will protect the Asian economies from the fluctuation of the US Dollar or the Euro, stabilise the prices of Asian bonds and facilitate the coming of a zero tariff zone .

Asian Regional Cooperation - Some issues

At BoaoHu Jintao spoke of the need for bringing about "five balances" in China's development strategy - a theme frequently touched by him during the first year of his leadership of China. In course of economic growth China must aim at achieving a balance between I) urban and rural development, ii) different regions of China ( the prosperous coastal area and the backward Western area), iii) social and economic development ( reducing social inequality and promoting human development), iv) man and nature ( economy and ecology ) and domestic development and open door foreign policy. This should be read together with the recent amendments to the Chinese Constitution which has added a provision guaranteeing Human Rights and also adding the building of ' political civilisation' along with material and spiritual civilisation. In other words, democratic rights are beginning to be recognized as important goals together with economic development . In India too the new government of the United Progressive Alliance led by Manmohan Singh has adopted a Common Minimum Programme in May 2004 which focusses on the human and social dimensions of economic reforms. Reforms with a human face seems to have arrived as a new mantra of the new generation of the reform leaders in Asian countries. This was the theme of the World Social Forum and the Mumbai Resistance in January 2004 where social movement groups had gathered to register their protest against imperialist globalisation.

But Asian regional forums have yet to show adequate commitment to these issues. The SAARC Summit in Islamabad adopted the Social Charter and if NGOs and people's democratic organisations take the initiative even the minimal goals of alleviating poverty, promoting the realisation of rights of women and other oppressed groups can be advanced.

The spatial perception of Asia remains partial if not conflicting. For many East and Southeast Asia exhausts Asia. Some include South Asia in it. Central Asia still does not figure prominently in the consciousness of the policy-makers in many countries. West Asia is poorly represented even in Boao. Actually all these regions have legitimate space in the historical notion of Asia. The literature and culture of each of these regions reflects all the others. It should be recalled that Nehru's vision of Asia encompassed all these regions. In this context the old idea of regional leaders has lost its relevance. Even though countries like India, China and Japan may play key role in providing the impetus for Asian cooperation their economic, technological and professional resources have to be so used as to create mutual confidence among the smaller countries. Or else countries would be once again divided into cold war like formations with the help of big powers.

Asian regional cooperation has sometimes been hostage to bilateral disputes among countries. Recent developments show that peple's initiatives create strong popular forces forcing regimes to take peace initiatives as in South Asia. Larger regional and continental formations would facilitate confidence-building measures. Cold war approach is fast giving in to new multilateral multi- track initiatives because of the rising democratic consciousness in all countries.

Multilaterism is a democratic idea just as federalism is when it respects other levels and forms of multilateralism. Any attempt to counterpose multilateralism against globalism on the one hand and national sovereignty on the other takes a narrow view of multilateralism. More and more arenas of collective and cooperative efforts aimed at promoting peace and democracy in world scale will respond to the multiple urges for self-assertion in the contemporary world. In this process the role of governments, civil society organisations, social movement groups and academics is equally important.

Manoranjan Mohanty
Director, Developing Countries Research Centre
University of Delhi
Co-Chairperson, Institute of Chinese Studies
Emeritus Chairperson, indian Congress of Asian and Pacific Studies
29 Rajpur road, Delhi-110054 Tel/fax 91-11-2399 2166
e-mail: dr_mohanty@yahoo.co ics@ndf.vsnl.net.in

The Concept of Human Rights and its Relationship to Trade and Investment
Author: Basil Fernando, Executive Director, Asian Human Rights Commission
At first glance, the title of this paper may seem rather strange. Why speak of a special relationship between human rights and trade and investment? Human rights is a holistic concept having equal bearing on all aspect of life, and therefore it is unusual to speak if a relationship between human rights and any specific arena of life, such as economics, politics or aesthetics. Human rights has an equally valid relationship with all such fields.

The core of any human rights concept is the right to life. The right to human life is so intrinsically connected with the survival of all forms of life, that human rights today is understood as a very comprehensive concept. Rather than the perspective that humans are the masters of the universe, the human rights concept today is based on the opposite understanding: the value of every being (and/or object) and every action must be measures by its relevance to the preservation and enhancement of life itself. No master stands above this principle.

The cornerstone of the human rights concept is the recognition that power tends to corrupt, and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. This implies that every form of power should be bound and controlled. The final boundary that no power should be allowed to cross is that human rights. The covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and numerous other conventions and declarations adopted by the international community through the mediation of the United nations have expressed various aspects of this boundary. While there will be further development of the exposition of the human rights idea, the fundamental concept will always remain the same: that no power can legitimately cross the boundary of human rights. The illegitimate but is seen as contrary to the interest of human beings who are affected by such attempts.

In relation to human rights, power means not only political power but also all forms of power including economic and social power. In modern times we are also seeing that economic power can be far superior to political power and can also be separated from political power. Therefore human rights is not only about limits to political power, it also sets limits to every form of economic and social power.

Trade and investment are important economic activities and these activities have a bearing on all aspects of life in a given society. In fact in terms of modern day trade and investment, the areas of influence are not just a particular locality or even a national boundary but global society at large.

The question then is how such activities should be measured from the point of view of the enhancement and improvement of human life. From the point of view of human rights, such enhancement and improvement cannot be measured only from the point of view of those who are engaged in such activities. This being the case, the measurement clearly cannot consist of whether the material wealth of the trades and the investors was improves as a result of their activities. The real measurement is whether the quality of the life of everyone in a given community has been enhanced and improved. Negatively, this would mean that any diminishment or deterioration of the quality of life of the community would amount to a violation of the basic human rights of the people whose lives have been so affected.

How then do we measure the diminishment and deterioration of the quality of life? These measures have been written down by the international community through the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), all of which have been further elaborated upon by other covenants and conventions. From a human rights point of view, the role of trade and investment should be to improve the rights of everyone, both in the area of civil rights and also in the area of social economic and cultural rights. 1 The question of how trade and investment could diminish or deteriorate human rights as enshrined in these basic documents, must then be asked. Can it not be presumed that all trade and investment by their very nature, enhance and improve such basic rights? Closer examination will shoe that such a presumption is flawed.

In all civilization there has been the distinction between what may be called good trade and bad trade, or legitimate trade and illegitimate trade. Also, over a periods of time, certain things that were initially considered a part of legitimate trade (but not good trade), have been subsequently recognized as illegitimate trade. The slave trade was one such example. There was a long and protracted struggle to gain the recognition that slave trading offends the very basic nature of human beings and that it should be universally condemned. The struggle to eliminate the slave trade was one of the foundational struggles that gave rise to the concept of human rights as we understand them today. Thus the distinction between what may be acceptable as legitimate trade and what is not, is a core element of the human rights heritage.

In modern times we speak of drug trafficking and the trafficking of human beings. The work 'trafficking' is in fact a substitute for the word 'trade', but what it implies is the same: the trading of illicit drugs and human beings. Quite a considerable amount of human rights discourse, especially in the recent decades, has been devoted to this subject. The idea of women's rights and children's rights in particular, as part of human rights, comes from such discourses. There have been various types of sales and purchases relating to women and children, which have been carried on for centuries, sometimes even having legitimacy. The discourse that is occurring on this subject will also show that there is nothing sacrosanct in trade in itself. There can be bad trade an very harmful forms of trade.

This from a human rights perspective, not only is it legitimate to distinguish harmful trade from beneficial trade, but it is crucial. However, there are some difficult problems surrounding such distinctions. For example, trading in arms is legitimate from a legalistic point of view. There are many serous challenges though, to such a legalistic point view; the sale of arms to private citizens is illegal in many countries while in the United States of America possession of arms by private citizens has been claimed as a moral right. In fact, the very accusation of double standards relating to human rights arises around controversies such as this.

It is important that these controversies be placed within the perspective that human rights, as enshrines in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the two subsequent covenants (ICESCR and ICCPR), are universal and indivisible. Within the human rights field there is no longer a controversy on this matter, with the Vienna Declaration of 1993 having resolved any doubt on the matter. The practical implication then, is that where there is a conflict between trade, investment and human rights, human rights considerations should be given priority over considerations relating to trade and investment. Unfortunately, in most instances what takes place is the very opposite. The considerations relating to trade and investment are given pre-eminence, despite whatever consequences of such trade and investment.

It is no longer under dispute that bad economic practices can lead to gamin, hunger and other adverse consequences to the population. The work of Amartya Sen in this regard is well known and acclaimed. That the reason for famine is not necessarily the lesser availability of food but the lack of the means by which the people are able to buy food, is a premise that also seems to be well accepted now. The lack of means with which to buy food means a lack of entitlements. Thus, people may starve, suffer from malnutrition or suffer from other forms of acute poverty due to lack of entitlements. The direct cause of a lack of entitlements are the problems arising from economic and social factors. Thus. As Amrtya Sen outs it, "In poverty, the problem is not lack of assets, these are actually symptoms. The problem is actually with the capabilities."

In the language of human rights, a lack of entitlement means the deprivation of the means to achieve basic human rights. Therefore in critically examining the relationship between trade, investment and human rights, the important question to be answered is whether particular trade or investment practices enhance the entitlements of all peoples. Or if these practices in fact reduce their entitlements. In considering this, what happens to the lowest in the economic strata as a result of such trade and investment is the yardstick, because those who are the economically weakest are the ones likely to suffer and lose their entitlements before any others. Keeping this in mind, the following items may be considered.

Will some people be unemployed as a result of a particular form of trade or investment and if so, what alternatives are provided for such people to retain their entitlements?

Will some people be dislocated from their usual habitat as a result of the introduction of any particular practice of trade or investment? If so, what alternatives are provided for such people to retain their entitlements?

Does the introduction of such trade or investment practices lead to the enhancement or deterioration of the people's rights to organize themselves, to form trade unions and to express themselves freely?

Is one of the pre-conditions for the introduction of any trade or investment practices the removal of basic welfare measures such as facilities for education, health and the like? If there is any such depravation of existing entitlements, what is being envisioned to undo such disentitlements?

Does the introduction of new trade and investment require changes in the political system that are more in favour of totalitarian practices, as opposed to greater democratic practices?

Will the new trade and investment practices require a greater use of state-sponsored violence such as martial law, national or internal security laws or grater emergency powers?

Will the new trade and investment practices lead to the destabilization of a given society? If so, will it lead to the exacerbation of internal conflicts, such as religious, ethnic and minority conflicts? Will a state anarchy be likely to spread due to such trade and investment practices, spreading a situation of collapse of the rule of law and the basic institutional framework of justice?

Is there a link between the new trade and investment practices and the increase of corruption?

Anyone familiar with the situation in many Asian countries in recent decades will not find such questions irrelevant. In fact they are the burning questions of most societies. Finding solutions to these questions is an integral part of human rights work. Many of the human rights activities including the ratification of international covenants and conventions and also human rights education, are undermined due to the instability that is prevalent in various countries and the serious problems regarding the rule of law arising therein.

The most important question that arises out of all this from a human rights point of view, is the concept of the implementation of human rights as required by the common Article 2 of the ICCPR 2 as well as the ICESCR. This requires all state parties to provide legislative, judicial, administrative and other mechanisms to implement human rights. The question in terms of trade and investment would be whether the state parties strictly implement the obligations of the common Article 2. The state has to protect the interest of all. This means that while safeguarding the interest of trade and investment, the state is under the obligation to ensure that these interest will not adversely affect the interest of others. To do that, the state must provide strong mechanisms for the protection of the human rights as required by the common Article 2 of the human rights covenants. This Article provides the basic conceptual framework to deal with this issue: the protection of human rights must be enshrined in local legislation in an effective manner with the legislation being enforced. The enforcement of such legislation requires that investigations into violations of rights are done through proper institutions such as a functioning police force and corruption control mechanism - for example, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) of Hong Kong. The judiciary must be independent and competent with powers to intervene in the instances of human rights violations. If Article 2 is effectively implemented, it will give rise to a climate where the interest of trade and investment can be properly balanced with the interest of all citizens.


1 For detailed commentary on human rights provisions relating to international trade, investment and finance policy and practice see the paper "The Realization of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - Commission On Human Rights - Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, Fifty-fist session, Item 4 of the provisional agenda

2 See the open letter to the global human rights community: Let us rise to the Article 2 of the ICCPR, article 2, Volume 1 No. 1 February 2002 - http://www.article2.org/mainfile.


Amartya Sen, 'Democracy as a Universal Value' Journal of Democracy 10.3 (1999) 3-17 ; © 1999 National Endowment for Democracy and the John Hopkins University Press

Amartya Sen, 'Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation', 257 pages, published by Oxford University Press

Basil Fernando, The Right to Speak Loudly (2004), Asian Legal Resource Centre publication
Making a case for human rights in the context of globalization or vice versa?
Author: Glenda T. Litong
I. Introduction

This paper shall briefly look into the facts relating to the values and institutional, particularly the legal framework, structures of two tides of international movements that the international community is faced with at the moment: the economic kind on one hand, referred to as globalization, and the human rights aspect on the other; and how each tide impact on the other. After which, recommendations in the form of responses to the tide of globalization, which takes into account human rights shall be propounded consonant with the goals of the conference.

Offhand, given the experiences so far documented, one would readily conclude that there is a clash of ideologies between the two as translated in their respective institutional and normative systems. This paper will neither attempt to validate nor refute the said observation; at the very least, this paper will attempt to contribute to the ongoing and much debated discourse by making a business case for human rights or vice versa from a very pragmatic way of looking at the international and regional scenario in the context of the author's practice as an alternative lawyer in the Philippines.

II. Facts About Globalization, International Trade and Investments

As pronounced by its movers and advocates, globalization is meant to alleviate poverty. Its ultimate objective is development, achieved through rapid economic growth. From this perspective, defining globalization would necessarily involve international trade and investments, which are the areas most affected by globalization, and advancement in information and technology.

"Globalization refers primarily to the progressive elimination of barriers to trade and investment and unprecedented international mobility of capital. It also refers to the rapidly improved communications systems, which have served to reduce distances between different countries and regions, bringing not only a greater exchange of goods and services but more exchanges between people and information from different countries."

While globalization seems to be abstract, it operates through agents and conduits, which are institutional in character in the form of trade arrangements, structural adjustments in fiscal and monetary policies, and information technology, all of which are market-oriented.

Globalization was brought about by major political changes whereby highly centralized economies adopted market-oriented reforms. Asia, for its part, has long entered into bilateral and multi-lateral negotiations, which included liberalization of trade by reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers to free trade. As breaches of said agreements become common, moves towards regionalization was undertaken, which can be seen in the formation of regional trading arrangements and regional trading blocs, which is a major part of globalization.

Side by side with these developments is the evolution of the so-called "global firm", a manifest product of globalization, where production and distribution is dictated by the shifts in the global market. To achieve optimum production, the global firm must have the following characteristics:

  1. It is really a network firm where production processes and components are spread out globally and any of the firms along the chain does the product completion;
  2. It makes use of forms of firm arrangements like licensing, joint ventures, etc.;
  3. It emphasizes coordination more than control;
  4. There is mutuality of relationships based on the assumption that parties to the globalization process have something to contribute to production;
  5. Firms form groups or enter into alliances to take advantage of joint services, joint marketing and other similar economies without necessarily entering into joint ownership.
With the distribution of the stages of production comes the expectation of greater efficiency through the utilization of less costly resources and the establishment of plants in areas where these resources can be obtained at a lower price. Countries are committed to open up their borders and markets through investment and trade policies such as liberalizations and other investment strategies, a clear departure from early protectionist attitudes.

Having in mind the foregoing backdrop, what then is the concrete impact of globalization, particularly those involving policies on trade and investment, on the lives of the people, particularly the poor? The succeeding discussion pertains to the Philippine experience in trying to comply with the demands of globalization, which is pretty much reflective of other experiences in Asia.


Proponents of the economic growth model of development argue that the gains from an open market system shall have a ripple effect and shall trickle down to the lowest strata of society. Since globalization involved the efficient distribution and utilization of the factors of production, it necessarily impacts on labor, particularly on labor standards, and especially on the vulnerable sections of society.

While labor is considered to be the most important factor of production, the ultimate power holder is the "firm", and in the case of globalization, the "global firm", which provides the other factors of production like capital and assets. In ensuring its success and well-being, the "global firm" has taken on a character, described earlier, which enables it to achieve optimum production through the employment of strategies which are centered on minimization of costs and procurement of short term gains. These strategies range from utilization of high-technology processes and computers, foreign direct investments and global competitiveness.

To increase profits, the "global firm" externalizes costs in the form of foreign direct investments (FDIs), which is perceived to be the impetus of rapid development, particularly in the manufacturing sector, of most Asian countries.

Global competitiveness, the sound byte of globalization, is actually the process whereby "labor is pitted against each other to push the wage down" thereby minimizing cost of production.

On the other hand, the use of high technology displaces not only workers but traditional industries especially in the Third World, which produces simple goods, relies heavily on agriculture and have industries that are labor-intensive.

In the Philippines, the decrease in the employment in the agricultural sector brought about by industrialization does not necessarily translate in the absorption by the industry sector of displaced workers. In fact, the employment rate in the agriculture and the industry sector has been decreasing over the years.

The displaced workers from the agricultural and industry sectors go to the informal sector- a phenomenon brought about by industrialization and is known as the "invisible" sector-which is unregulated and therefore unprotected.

To attain global competitiveness, casualization or contingent employment has been a major trend in hiring labor, thereby eroding labor standards, security of tenure and trade union rights, especially in export-processing zones. Not only is casualization the hiring policy in export-oriented industries, it has also been the growing practice among local employers.

On the other hand, "global firms" enter into mergers and alliances to cushion themselves from the ill effects of global competitiveness.

Also, the demand for cheap labor has affected the sector of labor migrants. Migrant workers are subjected to maltreatment, abuse, rape and other inhuman treatment and are not covered by labor standards law despite regulation. What more in an environment of deregulation- a mandate set by the law which subjected the plight of migrant workers to market forces.

Globalization has its most insidious impact on vulnerable groups particularly women and children. Women particularly bear the brunt of industrialization since there is preference for employment of women in soft industries, whether local or foreign employment. Female participation in the informal sector and labor export has increased considerably. Given the Philippine cultural and social realities, industrialization also has its gender dimensions. The presence of children in export-oriented industries is an indication of the "global firm's" strict adherence to the value of economic efficiency.

Food Security

Food insecurity is brought about by massive land conversions from irrigated agricultural lands to industrial zones (which include massive tracts of land for golf courses and country clubs), land reclamation (which destroys mangroves and marine resources), and utilization of agricultural lands to crops meant for exports (which displaces traditional and staple produce), to accommodate foreign investors. These investor-oriented policies impose a heavy toll on the environment and the ecosystem itself, thereby endangering food security, not only of the nation but the family that depends on the production of agricultural products, mainly the subsistence farmers and fisherfolks.

Up to now, the Philippines has no land use law that would make better use of land resources towards achieving sustainable economic development, in the light of large-scale denudation of forest land, indiscriminate and illegal land conversion, dwindling food production, soil degradation, widespread destruction of aquatic life, depletion of fresh water resources, displacement of indigenous peoples, and increasing urban migration, among others, to which industrialization has contributed significantly.


It is in the arena of free flow of information that globalization has its positive impact, characterized by widespread use of advanced communications and information technology. The dissemination of human rights theory, principles and values ride on the wave of information and communication technology. Technology has enabled and facilitated human rights advocates to network and strategically intervene in the promotion of human rights across borders.

Despite the same, access to information infrastructure and cognitive utilization of information still are major problems in the Philippines in view of the failure of industrialization to eradicate poverty and the imposition of structural adjustment policies from international financial institutions, which caused social services, particularly education, to take smaller budget allocations in favor of debt servicing. Hence, the information does not translate into political empowerment in favor of the poor and marginalized, in the absence of economic well-being.


Massive investments by reason of industrialization have displaced communities in the form of demolitions of "squatters", uprooting indigenous peoples from their ancestral domains and depriving subsistence farmers of genuine agrarian reform in favor of industrial or development sites.

At the international level, other influences of globalization that have human rights implications come in the form of new types of transboundary criminal activities like illegal drug trade, trafficking of persons and money laundering, and the proliferation of criminal syndicates that are competing with the "global firm" for economic power. The situations that engender these international criminal activities are the very same situations that enable free trade, i.e., free flow of capital and commodities and new technologies.

III. The Relationship Between Globalization and Human Rights

The value systems of globalization and human rights seem to be at odds. The value associated with globalization is economic efficiency. As pointed out, "international trade and finance institutions generally work on the economic model, i.e., the system is based upon enhancing the well being of the nations through trade on the theory that gains are maximized through the unrestricted flow of goods across national boundaries, where man is viewed as an economic being that seek to maximize wealth and self-interested satisfaction of personal preferences. The economic model focuses on efficiency, and values outside of efficiency are irrelevant, even pernicious as they complicate or hamper the trading system."

On the other hand, the values of human rights hinge on the basic dignity of humanity, which dictates that the individual must not only be the object of development but its subject as well. Development is not only an end-goal but a right and in itself and does not refer merely to the economic well-being but to the total physical" ¦? Further, it means that the individual must not only be the beneficiary of the fruits of development but must also participate in the formulation of the development agenda and in its assessment and evaluation.

The immediate manifestation of the seeming incongruence of the value of economic efficiency vis- ƒÆ’  -vis human rights is what is known as development aggression, i. e. where "economic decisions take little or no account of human and environmental costs, that are planned and implemented from the top and without participation of those concerned, and that are imposed on people either by force or by depriving them of the necessary information and means to make a real choice."

According to the Oxfam Poverty Report, "trade has the power to create opportunities to create opportunities and support livelihoods; and it has the power to destroy them. Production for export can generate income, employment, and the foreign exchange which poor countries need for their development. But it can also cause environmental destruction and a loss of livelihoods, or lead to unacceptable levels of exploitation. The human impact of trade depends on how goods are produced, who controls the production and marketing, how the wealth generated is distributed and the terms upon which countries trade. The way in which the international trading system is managed bas a critical bearing on all of these cases."

Impact of globalization on human rights

The Philippine experience, as discussed in the preceding section, has shown to a large extent the negative impact of trade and investment policies in a globalized world on human rights of the people, where the rights to work and at work, right to adequate food, right to education in relation to the right to political participation and right to property, are, not only sacrificed, but violated. In particular, the economic, social and cultural rights are disregarded in the name of free trade. Other human rights that are affected relates to privacy, intellectual property, security, among others.

If left on its own, opponents of globalization espouse that it is a threat to human rights in several ways, namely:
  • Local decision-making and democratic participation are undermined when MNC, WB/IMF set the national economic and social policies
  • Unrestricted market forces threaten ESC rights when structural adjustment policies reduce public expenditures
  • Accumulations of power and wealth in the hands of foreign MNCs increase unemployment, poverty and marginalization of vulnerable groups
As it is right now, there is still rampant poverty especially in the Third World which has opened up its doors to accommodate "global firms", trade and investments from the developed countries in the hope that economic growth can be achieved which would lead to its eventual development. However, poverty is not merely economic deprivation. "Poverty is not a natural state or phenomenon. Poverty results from the direct denial, violation and abuse of the human rights of men, women, girls and boys, by entities that have more access to power, or through systems that are based on injustice, inequality and discrimination."

The problem therefore revolves primarily on the capacity states to comply with its international obligations; more importantly, state capacity to comply with human rights obligations. This is especially true in the light of transboundary criminal enterprise brought about by globalization. Further, structural adjustments shifted its role from being a mechanism of national debt management into a vehicle for deregulation, trade liberalization and privatization, which reduced the role of the state in national development to one of policing and security.

b. Impact of human rights on globalization

The proposition of several economic advocates in multilateral financial institutions that any factor that impedes global trade and investment is bad for development may not be gospel truth at all, if the findings of several studies are to be considered.

The existence of democracy and representative government propels economic growth in view of the establishment of the rule of law insofar as protecting rights based on contracts and property rights, which is essential to maintaining favorable and secure international trade and investment environment.

Trade and investment is more conducive, especially in the tourism industry, in areas where there are no images of repression, political instability, human rights violation or acts of terrorism.

There is an obvious relationship between human rights and globalization. Both seek to restrain the power of the state. Both recognize the individual as an economic being, with property rights. However, the failure to respect labor standards and other human rights of the people may create the unneeded tensions politically. The stability of the world's trading system may thus depend on ensuring that an open trading system does not come at the price of human rights.

IV. Why Human Rights Over Globalization?

Human rights are guarantees, which must be respected and protected not only of the state party but also by the international community. The nature of human rights obligations, particularly those arising out of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other treaty-based obligations, shall be discussed in detail in this section. A "business" case for human rights shall also be looked into in an attempt to harmonize the merits of both globalization and human rights.

International Human Rights Legal Regime

In the early stages of industrialization, human rights have already been recognized, particularly those rights that eliminate the negative impact of globalization, like movement against slave trade and production of destructive weaponry, even if such acts were deemed to be private actions. Human rights theory already supports the claims of rights holders against all others, including non-state actors.

In 1919, the International Labour Organization (ILO) was created to avoid competitive distortions during the early movement of international trade and technology and enhance the protection of fundamental rights of workers, which led to the enactment of international labor standards. The ILO engages a tripartite approach where all the relevant actors, i.e., business, labor and government, where involved in its operations. Non-state actors, i.e., labor and business, participate in ILO's law-making and supervisory procedures even if parties to the ILO and its conventions are limited to states.

In response to the atrocities committed during the Worlds War II, the United Nations (UN) was created and its Charter entered into force in October 24, 1945. The UN Charter focuses on state responsibility in the promotion and protection of human rights, since the state is seen as the primary threat to human rights.

The UN Charter establishes human rights protection as a basic principle as well as a prominent way of furthering the fundamental goals of the UN. Art. 55 (c) provides that the UN will further "universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion." Art 56 provides that "all members pledge themselves to take joint and separate action in co-operation with the Organization for the achievement of the purposes set forth in Art. 55". Art. 103 affirms this commitment and provides that "in the event of a conflict between the obligations of the Members of the United Nations under the present Charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present Charter shall prevail."

To specify the "pledge" indicated above, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was enacted in December 10, 1948, which expressly recognizes the inherent dignity of the human being and the rights attached to such dignity. In its preamble, the UDHR serves to establish "a common standard of achievement for all peoples and nations." The International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which run the whole gamut of human rights, were both adopted in 1966 and entered into force in 1967. At present, 150 states have ratified the ICCPR while 142 states ratified the ICESCR out 191 member states of the UN.

While the emphasis of these international human rights instruments is on state responsibility, they continue to recognize human rights that are violated by non-state actors, including "global firms", international organizations and individuals. Art. 1 and 29 of the UDHR explicitly views that individuals have duties towards each other. Further, Art. 30 provides that "Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any state, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein."

Individual responsibility is also existent for human rights violations, which constitute crimes under international law. State responsibility in this instance requires that the state where the offender is found should try or extradite the individual and, in few instances, may allow prosecution before an international tribunal.

Aside from the foregoing instruments, studies on the aspects of globalization by the human rights organs of the UN (Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and the Commission on Human Rights) where undertaken, and which bodies issued resolutions on trade liberalization and its impact on human rights. The resolutions enjoined all governments and fora of economic policy to take fully into consideration the obligations and principles of human rights in the formulation of international economic policy.

On the other hand, human rights law also guarantees rights essential for the furtherance of globalizations, e.g., right to property, freedom of expression and communications, due process for contractual or business disputes, remedy before an independent tribunal.

b. Legal Framework of Globalization

The institutional structure of international trade and investment is composed mainly of the Bretton Woods multilateral lending institutions and the WTO. The Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (signed by 117 member countries on April 15, 1994) established the WTO and expanded the substantive reach of international trade regulation to include trade related aspect of IP, trade in services, and trade-related investment measures.

In the preamble of the WTO Agreement is an explicit recognition of Art. 55 (a) of the UN Charter wherein it states that " relations in the field of trade and economic endeavor should be conducted with a view to raising standards of living, ensuring full employment and a large and steadily growing volume of real income and effective demand." It also refers to a concept developed in the UN, which is sustainable development. It provided that the international trade and economic relations must allow for the "optimal use of the world's resources in accordance with the objective of sustainable development."

Human rights is also considered in the legal instruments and policies related to trade and investments, e.g., ban on importation of products stemming from prison labor, allows trade measures necessary to promote human morals or human, animal or plant life or health (article XX, GATT, 1994; Art. XIV of GATS). However, these expressions are qualified by the chapeau that requires the measures taken not be a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination or a disguised restriction of trade. In other words, trade is not required to conform to fundamental human rights; rather the reverse is true. ( Shelton)

The role of IMF and WB in international finance is highlighted because of the impact of its debt conditions relating to structural adjustment policies on human rights. Initially, poverty alleviation is its main objective but in 1990, the General Counsel of WB determined that "violation of political rights may reach such proportions as to become a Bank concern due to significant direct economic effects or if it results in violation of international obligations." It then came out with a published a report in 1998 on development and human rights emphasizing equality and development and protection of vulnerable groups and instituted its Inspection Panel to hear a narrow spectrum of complaints about violations of Bank policy.

On the other hand, IMF limited its involvement in the ensuring private sector confidence through institutional reforms like combating corruption and need to establish transparent operational systems within states, and thereby lay the basis for sustained growth.

At the regional level, the ASEAN in particular, while justice and law forms part of the mandate of the organization per the Bangkok Declaration, no mention was made of human rights. It has assumed a non-political stance and limited itself to concerns relating to economic growth, social progress, cultural development and other "soft" issues. It considers human rights as added conditionalities and protectionism by other means on trade, investment and finance. In the same ministerial meeting, it was agreed upon "that while human rights is universal in character, implementation in the national context should remain within the competence and responsibility of each country, having regard for the complex variety of economic, social and cultural realities" and "emphasized that the international application of human rights be narrow and selective nor should it violate the sovereignty of nations." These sentiments were reiterated over time, further declaring that the international trading system would be undermined "if the trend of state, provincial and other local authorities in countries outside this region seek(ing) to impose trade sanctions against other States on grounds of alleged human rights violation and non-trade related issues." Essentially, ASEAN believes that issues of environmental protection and human rights must not be linked to development and economic cooperation.

On the other hand, the ASEAN, on its own or jointly with the European Commission, had issued declarations and statements on human rights, e.g., agreements relating to the nature of the cooperation that the same "should serve their people by promoting greater prosperity, social justice and human rights," that "the (Foreign) Ministers were of the view that international cooperation to promote and encourage respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction to race, sex and religion should be enhance," and that they "emphasized their common commitment to the promotion of and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms on the basis of the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action."

In particular, the ASEAN adopted during its 14 th General Assembly the Kuala Lumpur AIPO Declaration on Human Rights, which declares that "it is likewise the task and responsibility of member states to establish an appropriate regional mechanism on human rights." The declaration was reiterated during the 26 th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in the same year, through a Joint Communique, which states that the Foreign Ministers "in support of the Vienna Declaration" ¦ agreed that ASEAN should also consider the establishment of an appropriate regional mechanism on human rights." The Vienna Declaration referred to the World Conference on Human Rights sponsored by the United Nations, which reiterated the "need to consider the possibility of establishing regional and sub-regional arrangements for the promotion and protection of human rights where they do not already exist."

Practically all ASEAN states have signed the international human rights conventions. Despite the same, differences abound among the members on the meaning and nature of human rights. Legal systems of the countries vary as well, including the degree of political openness to the perceived Western concept of human rights.

c. The Primacy of Human Rights

One needs to differentiate between human rights instruments vis- ƒÆ’  -vis all other multilateral treaties, including trading agreements. "Human rights are not multilateral treaties of the traditional type; their object and purpose is the protection of the basic rights of individual human beings, irrespective of their nationality, both against the State of their nationality and all other contracting States. In concluding these human rights treaties, the States can be deemed to submit themselves to a legal order within which they, for the common good, assume various obligations, not in relation to other States, but towards all individuals within their jurisdiction."

The UDHR has acquired the status as a principle of international customary law under international law. Constant references to it as a fundamental source in multilateral discussion within the UN and other fora, international treaties and legislative/judicial proceedings of many countries, and the signatures and ratifications of the greater majority of the international community are clear indications of this status. Under Art. 38 of the International Court of Justice, international custom as evidence of a general practice accepted as law and opinio juris is a source of international law. In the case of UDHR, state practice is shown in the signatures and ratifications. Opinio juris, the belief that such conduct represents legally permissible behavior, is shown in several UN General Assembly Resolutions indicating the stand of the international community on pressing issues, like the supremacy of human rights. Furthermore, the ratifications of the majority of states of the ICCPR and ICESCR, which gave rise to treaty-based obligations, have contributed to the transformation of the UDHR as legally binging obligations upon States.

Clearly, the UDHR is legally binding on all countries and it is binding erga omnes (flowing to all), wherein all states have a vested legal interest in the protection of such rights. Lastly, the UDHR is also considered as a binding principle of jus cogens (compelling law) within the meaning of Art. 53 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

In view of the foregoing, it cannot be doubted that the UDHR is supreme over any other international or regional trading agreements, and states have the obligations to promote, respect, protect and fulfill the human rights, fundamental freedoms and the development of the people. Human rights must be used as standards and norms even in the arena of international trade and investment.

d. A "Business" Case For Human Rights

International trade and investment and human rights rely on rules. Adherence to the rule of law is essential pre-requisite to the long-term conduct of trade and investment as it secures economic stability and private sector confidence. The rule of law includes human rights. Certain human rights, mentioned earlier, securing business interests are requisites to this rule of law. However, efforts to incorporate human rights principles and norms in trade law has encountered difficulties, like, states affirming the jurisdiction of the ILO or other bodies on the matter, opposing any discussion on worker rights during WTO meetings, and opposing the use of unilateral and multilateral trade sanctions for HR violations. This is a double standard on the part of business.

What the private sector does not want to consider is that there is a "business" case for human rights. Benefits that could accrue to business when they promote human rights include effective risk management, avoidance of litigation, shareholder confidence, enhanced reputation, staff and public goodwill and other competitive advantages. Significant financial losses can also be incurred when unethical operations result in labor strikes, community uprisings or bad publicity. Greater awareness of human rights by the people has placed business under scrutiny.

The norms of human rights relating to property, contract, fraud and competition should be considered as appropriate business norms as well. After all, business is entirely dependent on the effective functioning of society and the global environment.

V. Responses to Globalization From the Human Rights Perspective

The track record so far of state compliance with human rights in the context of globalization is not very heartwarming. It seems that states try to isolate its responses to globalization from their obligations under international human rights law. This is happening not only in the international level but also at the regional level, as can be gleaned from the declarations of ASEAN.

It can no longer be ignored that responses to globalization is linked to human rights. In the face of obvious hesitation of states to take into consideration human rights in their development agenda in compliance with international and regional trade agreements, efforts of advocates for human rights must not wane and rather, must be pursued more vigorously.

At the international level, responses to globalization within the context of human rights have achieved considerable mileage. The following initiatives, which has also been adopted at the regional level, relates to the strengthening of the international human rights regime in the context of globalization:

Human rights activities and institutions have posited the primacy of human rights law.

The primacy of human rights over other international legal regimes cannot be ignored by states as they have submitted themselves to this fundamental principle and as evidenced by the prevailing general principles of international law on the matter relating to state practice. Human rights advocates approach the phenomenon of globalization from a rights-based approach and has engaged, even capacitated, states to adopt said approach in their economic decision and policy making.

Focus on state responsibility for the actions of non-state actors.

There is growing insistence on the responsibility of states, for the behavior of non-state actors within their respective jurisdictions. The inaction or omission of states on human rights violations committed by non-state actors has been the subject, and continues to be a fertile ground for test case litigations. Test case litigations are " ¦

Even actions of states before international organizations are being looked into. Voting in favor of actions that contravenes human rights is considered a violation of its obligations under the treaties, particularly the IESCR which mandates minimum core obligations on the part of state parties irrespective of resource or other constraints.

Also, state responsibility also pertains to home and host states over the actions of global firms.

International law has increasingly regulating non-state behaviors directly.

This finds support in the earlier discussion on human rights law governing private or non-state actions that impedes on human rights, particularly art. 29 and 30 of the UDHR.

Institutionalization of private market mechanisms like corporate code of conducts and consumer purchasing schemed to influence corporate behavior.

Economic activity is not the sole responsibility of states. In the realm of economic, social and cultural rights, its realization is not entirely dependent on state action; business entities, particularly the transnational and multinational companies, are actors whose decisions greatly impact on human rights. Human rights law asserts that economic, social and cultural rights set the limits of globalization. There is thus a growing clamor for the development of codes of corporate conduct, formation of venues wherein stakeholders to the issue of globalization and human rights participate and existence of grievance mechanisms for the enforcement of accountability of non-state actors.

International organizations cannot escape accountability for its actions in case of violations of human rights. As mere creations of states, international organizations cannot lawfully do collectively what states cannot lawfully do individually.

In order to reach corporate behavior, efforts have been directed towards the utilization of market mechanisms and other forms of private regulation like corporate social responsibilities, with emphasis on its implementation.

Restructured international governance mechanisms.

Efforts geared towards ensured participation of state as well as non-state actors, which includes the private sector, NGOs and civil society, in international governance have been undertaken as embodied in several UN documents like UN Millenium Declaration, UN Global Compact Initiative and reports by UN Special Rapporteurs.

Based on the foregoing discussions, the issue most pertinent to pose would be: What can be done at the regional level that would advocate for human rights in the context of free trade?

Strategic interventions are needed to strengthen human rights in an environment of free trade and investment, having the following in mind.

First, primacy of human rights, as articulated earlier, must be brought to the attention of policy makers at the regional and state level. Human rights advocacy requires that it is articulated and human rights mainstreamed or integrated in decision and policy making in all branches and agencies as well as processes of the state. There is thus a need for a body of work that details the impact of economic decisions on economic, social and cultural rights. This can come from research or studies, test cases or consultations or other social fora that engages a wide spectrum of stakeholders on the impact of globalization and its conduits and agents. A state that is fully aware of its obligations in international law and the primacy of human rights over any other international obligations is in a better position to articulate the same at the regional as well as international trade fora.

Despite the declarations of ASEAN relating to the compartmentalization of trade and investments vis- ƒÆ’  -vis human rights, there is a window of willingness on its part to talk and cooperate on the issue of human rights. Again, advocacy on the primacy of rights over trade obligations must be surfaced and brought to their level.

Second, activities that aim at strengthening and capacitating the state must be undertaken. The rights-based approach must be incorporated in the strategies of state formulation and implementation of programs and policies that address the needs of the people. This could mean holistic and integrated reforms in the political as well as economic landscapes of states, including judicial reform. Reforms in the judiciary, the rule of law and the justice system are also needed in ensuring a favorable investment climate, which must not be at the expense of human rights. The state can take on an "interventionist" attitude, as differentiated from being "protectionist", the latter relating to policies on the manner by which goods flow across and within the national borders. An "interventionist" state means that the state prepares an environment where every sector of the economy can participate and no one enjoys a sizable amount of advantage over the other.

Third, legal empowerment of the people is needed since this is the other side of the rights-based approach, where people can assert their entitlements against the state as the duty-holder, not only for its actions but for the actions of non-state actors as well. The people must also be the recipient of the body of work that upholds the primacy of human rights. A special concern relates to the people's access to justice in case of human rights violations, given the initiative to advocate for the primacy of human rights.

VI. Conclusion

The promise of a higher standard of well-being for every individual put forth by globalization has remained cast in stone and has not benefited its supposed beneficiaries, the people. Approaching development from a purely economic perspective has not worked and will continue to fail if the basic human entitlements of the people are not addressed and not taken into account in pursuing economic growth. In particular, as long as structures that impede equality, equitable distribution of wealth and human rights exist, development shall fail its subjects.

On the other hand, business has a lot to gain in ensuring the well-being and dignity of human beings in terms of higher productivity by reason of secured and contented labor force and less cost in the absence of litigation, bad goodwill and industrial chaos.

In this arena, only the State has the resource and the machinery to put into effect policies and programs that would cushion the negative effects of globalization and to capacitate itself to ensure that globalization realizes its promise of development to the people. It would be an irony of sorts that the same development agenda being implemented in the name of the people are the very same instrumentalities that perpetuate and continue their poverty and marginalization of the people, particularly the poor.


ASEAN and Human Rights: A Compilation of ASEAN Statements on Human Rights. Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism, 2003.

Dinah Shelton, Protecting Human Rights in a Globalized World, http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/law/lwsch/journals/bciclr/25_2/06_FMS.htm, 3 June 2004.

Habbard, Anne-Christine and Guiraud, The World Trade Organization and Human Rights,International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) Position Paper, http://www.fidh.org/rapports/wto-fidh.htm, 3 June 2004.

Kaisahan Tungo Sa Kaunlaran ng Kanayunan at Repormang Pansakahan, A Citizen's Guide to the Proposed National Land Use Act.

Mining Ombudsman Annual Report 2001-2002 , Oxfam Community Aid Abroad, November 2002.

Mining Ombudsman Annual Report 2003 , Oxfam Community Aid Abroad, September 2003.

Raquedan, Joel, Globalization and Human Rights, 1998 Philippine Peace and Human Rights Review.

Sandoval, Raymond Vincent, Human Rights Treaty and Customary International Law, Human Rights Agenda, Vol. 8, Issue 6, November-December 2003, Institute of Human Rights, University of the Philippines Law Center, Quezon City.

Villaroman, Noel, An ASEAN Human Rights "Mechanism': Transforming Dream Into Reality, The Human Rights Agenda, Volume #5, Issue #6, June 2000, Institute of Human Rights, University of the Philippines Law Center, Quezon City.

Raquedan, Joel, Globalization and Human Rights, 1998 Philippine Peace and Human Rights Review, Institute of Human Rights, University of the Philippines Law Center, Quezon City, p. 348.

Ibid., p. 353.

Kaisahan Tungo Sa Kaunlaran ng Kanayunan at Repormang Pansakahan, A Citizen's Guide to the Proposed National Land Use Act, pp. 2-5.

Dinah Shelton, Protecting Human Rights in a Globalized World, (citation)

Raguedan, supra, p. 380.

Shelton, supra.


Mining Ombudsmand Annual Report 2003, Oxfam Community Aid Abroad, September 2003, p. 6.

Par. 7, Joint Communique of the 24 th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 19-20 July 1991.

Par. 15, supra.

Par. 35, Joint Communique of the 30 th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, Subang Jaya, Malaysia, 24-25 July 1997.

Par. 11, Joint Declaration of the ASEAN-EC Ministerial Meeting, Brussels, Belgium, 21 November 1978.

Par. 7, Joint Declaration of the 9 th EC-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, Luxembourg, 30-31 May 1991.

Par. 25, Joint Declaration of the 11 th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting, Karlsruhe, Germany, 22-23 September 1994.

Sandoval, Human Rights Treaty and Customary International Law, Human Rights Agenda, Vol. 8, Issue 6, November-December 2003, Institute of Human Rights, University of the Philippines Law Center, Quezon City, pp. 12-15.

Raquedan, supra., p. 412.
Logistical Information
Author: Secretariat, APRN



Full name: Republic of the Philippines
Area: 300,000 sq. km.
Population: 82 million
Capital City: Manila
People: Predominantly descendants of Malays, Chinese and Muslims
minorities and a number of mestizos (Filipino-Spanish or Filipino-Americans).
Language: Filipino (Tagalog) and English plus numerous widely spoken indigenous languages, some Spanish are spoken.
Religion: 83% Roman Catholic, 9% Protestant, 5% Muslim, 3% Buddhist.


Subic is known widely in the Philippines as the former home of the largest US military facility in Asia-Pacific. It was a symbol of American intervention and dominance in Philippine affairs until September 11, 1991 when the Philippine Senate decided to terminate the leasehold agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States that ousted the military bases from Philippine soil. Since then, the area was converted into a Freeport zone under the administration of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA). Now known as Subic Freeport Zone, the area is a tourism haven complete with tourism facilities such as jungle trekking, swimming, fishing, arts center, concert and show venue, conference site, and other recreational facilities. For more information about its history and travel guide, please visit http://www.sbma.com/hist/hist.html


The Subic Freeport Zone is accessible by air, sea, and land. Note that international flights from Taipei, Kuala Lumpur and Guangzhou have regular routes to Subic International Airport.

Participants are expected to arrive in Manila and Subic on June 4, 2004. Upon arrival at the Manila International Airport, and having cleared immigration and customs, please proceed to the ARRIVAL EXTENSION AREA.

The organizers will provide land transportation service from the airport to Subic International Hotel and from the hotel back to the airport. Estimated travel time from Manila to Subic is 3-5 hours.

Participants arriving via Subic International Airport, please inform the Secretariat for pick-up and send-off schedules.


Please send your arrival and departure details (pre-registration form) to the APRN Secretariat no latter than May 15, 2004. The details should include arrival and departure date, time, airline, flight number, and where the flight will be coming from. The details are important for the Secretariat to organize the airport pick-up and send-off. Also, the hotel Secretariat will use them to reconfirm your return flight.


Philippine Customs MAY NOT allow the entry of fresh agricultural produce such as meat, fruits, and plants.


The meeting and your stay will be at the Subic International Hotel, Labitan & Sta. Rita Roads, Freeport Zone Subic Bay, Olongapo City, Philippines. The Secretariat has booked participants in double occupancy rooms at the Delta Building of the hotel. Participants are expected to check-in from 12:00nn until the evening of June 4, 2004. Check-out from the hotel is on June 7, 2004 at lunch time. If you need to check out at a later time, please inform the APRN Secretariat.

Hotel details are as follows:

Subic International Hotel
Labitan & Sta. Rita Roads, Freeport Zone Subic Bay,
Olongapo City, Philippines.
Tels. (0632) 843-7794 & 97 (047) 252-22222
Fax No. (0632) 894-5579
Email: sales@subichotel.com

SIH is conveniently located at the heart of the Freeport zone, accessible to banks, shopping centers and other recreational facilities. To view the hotel, visit their webpage at: www.subichotel.com


Package rate includes 3-nights accommodation in a deluxe room, three (3) buffet breakfast; three (3) buffet lunch; three (3) buffet dinner; five (5) nourishing snacks and 10% service charge:

Single Occupancy room is at P7,650 net/pax/day (USD 137.00)
Twin Occupancy room is at P5,550 net/pax/day (USD 99.00)


Buffet meals will be serve at the SIH designated restaurant starting on the evening of June 4 until luncheon of June 7, 2004. Please inform the Secretariat of your meal preferences in your pre-registration form so that we can arrange with the hotel your dietary requirements.


The Philippines has two seasons-- dry and rainy. Early June in the Philippines is sometimes rainy and sometimes sunny. But since the venue is near the beach, we hope that it would be sunny. Please bring your beach wear and rainwear just in case. We would like our meeting to be as relaxed as possible so wearing of casual shorts is allowed.


Electricity is 220V, 60Hz


The hotel has a business center equipped with at least three computers for email checking and internet access. For laptop computer users, you can just buy pre-paid internet cards at P100 (with 9 hours internet access) from any convenient stores and just hook-up using the telephone lines inside your rooms.


The unit of currency in the Philippines is Philippine Peso indicated as P. The exchange rate as of this writing is US$1 = P56.20.


For those participants with confirmed travel subsidy, the Secretariat will reimburse your airfare cost and visa fees in US dollars. Please bring a photocopy of your ticket and original invoice and present them to the Secretariat on June 6, 2004. Participants are also expected to inform the Secretariat of their actual travel costs prior to buying their ticket.


Please prepare 550.00 php for airport depature tax or 11.00 USD at the time of departure.


Participants requiring visa assistance must fill-up the complete information in the pre-registration form and send it to the Secretariat as soon as possible.

To Oppose FTAs: Making People Matter
To Oppose FTAs: Making People Matter
September 4-6, 2007
Sydney, Australia
Summary of documents from "To Oppose FTAs: Making People Matter"
Author: APRN Secretariat

We are pleased to inform everyone that we have uploaded some of the papers and PPT presented at the "To Oppose FTAs: Making People Matter" held last September 4-6, 2007 in Sydney, Australia.

Papers available:

Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific islands
Nic Maclellan

China's Agenda
Pao-yu Ching

Free Trade Agreements and Security Concerns
Kinda Mohamadieh
Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND)

New developments on services and investment in FTAs
Jane Kelsey
ARENA (Action, Research,Education Network of Aoteroa)

Securing the world for nukes and fossil fools
Geoff Evans
Mineral Policy Institute

Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) and Military Alliance
Koshida Kiyokazu
Pacific Asia Resource Center

Synopsis: War on Terror and Free Trade
Elmer Labog and Peter Murphy

Korea-US FTA and Social Movements in Korea
Mikyung Ryu
Korean Alliance against Korea-US FTA

Powerpoint presentations during the conference (PDF view)

APEC: Making the world secure for nukes and fossil fools
Geoff Evans, Mineral Policy Institute

APEC's Security Agenda
IBON Foundation

Australia and Aotearoa / New Zealand in the Pacific
Nic Maclellan

The Latest Crow Bar: Bilateral Agreements and Agriculture
Azra Talat Sayeed, Roots for Equity

Bush's legacy on bilateral trade & investment deals

Exposing Imperial Agendas: US FTAs
IBON Foundation

What's new about FTAs? Intellectual property (IP)
Sanya Reid Smith, Third World Network

Lessons from FTA struggles: Malaysia
Sanya Reid Smith, Third World Network

What's new about FTAs? NAMA
Sanya Reid Smith, Third World Network

Oppose FTAs and APEC (FTAAP)
The Institute for Global Justice (IGJ)

Free trade agreements and security concerns


Please feel free to use these resources for your education and advocacy work. Spread the word!

Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific islands
Author: Nic Maclellan

As we gather in the lead up to the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Forum, it is important to extend our analysis and action to the Pacific islands, which are often ignored in discussions of regional trade liberalisation, structural adjustment and "economic reform."

Just as the peoples of Asia are suffering adverse economic, social and environmental effects from current APEC policies, these policies are also affecting the populations of small island developing states in the Pacific. APEC's decisions this weekend on trade, climate change and security will have significant effects on indigenous communities in the region, even though from the 16-member Pacific Islands Forum, only Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea are full members of APEC.[1]

The development priorities of island nations are under challenge from trade and security agendas being driven by Australia and New Zealand. In recent years, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat has increasingly focussed on trade liberalisation, in compliance with World Trade Organisation (WTO) principles and trade rules. As with APEC, WTO policies affect the whole region, even though few island states are members - only Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands are full members of the WTO, while Tonga, Samoa and Vanuatu have applied to join.[2]

The regional trade agenda is being played out through negotiations over free trade agreements (FTAs): the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA); the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) and the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) currently being negotiated between the European Union and Pacific members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific grouping (EU-PACP). The adverse effects of these FTAs been critiqued by community groups such as the Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG), the South Pacific and Oceanic Council of Trade Unions (SPOCTU) and activists like Jane Kelsey from Auckland University in New Zealand.[3]

As Professor Kelsey has noted: "Binding treaties for free trade and investment, more commonly referred to as  ¢â‚¬Ëœregional economic integration', close the policy space and regulatory options available to parliamentarians at a regional level, and the potential for national governments to adopt a divergent development agenda. Fiji, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, and potentially Tonga, Samoa and Vanuatu, are also governed by World Trade Organisation rules that impose considerable additional constraints."

Key allies see Australia and New Zealand playing a central role in the Pacific. The 1997 white paper In the National Interest noted: "Australia's international standing, especially in East Asia and North America and Europe, is influenced by perceptions of how well Australia fulfils a leadership role in the islands region."[4]

But as the largest economic powers in the Pacific Islands Forum, Australia and New Zealand often clash with their island neighbours on key issues of security and development. The Australian government's failure to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, and ongoing refusal to set mandatory targets and timetables for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, symbolise the gap over issues of vital importance to small island developing states.

In the first five years after its election in 1996, the conservative government of Prime Minister John Howard was largely focussed on relations with Asia rather than the Pacific. Even today, Asia retains this central focus - China, India and Japan are crucial markets for Australian energy, minerals and agricultural products and the government's current push to expand the export of uranium. But the 1998 crisis in Solomon Islands, the 1999 intervention in Timor and the 2000 Fiji coup helped spark renewed engagement by the Australian government in the islands region - amplified by September 11, the 2002 Bali bombing and the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

The rhetoric of "failed" or "fragile" states in the Pacific is used to justify greater intervention in the region. Much of the debate has highlighted potential threats to Australia: the concern that Pacific Island nations will become a base for drug-smuggling, gun running or al-Qaida terror attacks on Australia. Politicians and commentators have spoken of the so-called "arc of instability" to the north and east of Australia and the potential "Balkanisation" of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.[5] As Australia and New Zealand deployed troops and police under the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) in July 2003, Prime Minister John Howard stressed: "What I want people to understand is that this is very much our patch."[6]

In Aotearoa / New Zealand, under the Labor government led by Prime Minister Helen Clark, there is a stronger orientation to the islands region, influenced by longstanding economic and security ties and the country's large Polynesian population. But while there are significant policy differences between the two countries on some issues, on core policies of trade and security there is a commonality of interest.

A central response from Australia and New Zealand to recent crises has been to support programs of "good governance" and "economic reform" in the region. There has also been a focus on increased regional integration, highlighted by the signing of a "Pacific Plan for Strengthening Regional Co-operation and Integration" in 2005.[7]

Corporations based in Australia and New Zealand have significant investments in the region, especially in finance and banking, tourism and mining. These deserve further research by APRN, but this paper will focus on state policies on trade, security and regional integration.

Trade liberalisation and Free Trade Agreements in the Pacific

From the early 1990s, the "good governance" and "trade liberalisation" agenda being promoted by multilateral agencies such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) was adopted enthusiastically by AusAID and NZAID. Around the Pacific, the ADB has financed reform programs in a process co-ordinated through donors' meetings and the Forum Economic Ministers' Meetings (FEMM). The FEMM Action Plan has been used to promote these policies to Pacific elites: liberalisation of trade and removal of tariffs; reduction of staffing in the public sector; flexible labour markets; corporatisation and privatisation of public utilities in transport, communications, energy, water and other sectors; introduction of "Value Added" consumption taxes; and removal of some controls on the finance sector.[8]

The ADB has long been advocating cuts in public sector employment throughout the Pacific, with structural reform programs leading to massive job losses in the late 1990s, ranging from 33 per cent (Marshall Islands) to 57 per cent (Cook Islands).[9] There has been significant debate over the social impacts of these cuts, as public sector employment is one of the few sources of income for people in small island states.

Key donor governments are also beginning to push for land reform or "land mobilisation" in the region, seeking changes to customary land tenure to promote growth, open the way for new resource or tourism projects and guarantee security of investment for overseas corporations.

The concept of regional trade integration was first discussed at the inaugural South Pacific Forum (now Pacific Islands Forum) in August 1971. But the need for an actual agreement was taken up more recently as part of the region's response to global trends, including preparation for the launch in December 1999 of a new round of WTO trade negotiations. In 1999, Forum Leaders endorsed in principle a free trade area among Forum members, noting that this would be implemented in stages over a period of up to 2009 for developing Forum Island Countries and 2011 for the Smaller Island States and Least Developed Countries.

In coming months, Pacific governments will make key decisions on regional trade agreements with Europe, Australia and New Zealand. There are three main strands to the trade negotiations involving Pacific Island states:

  1. the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA) covers trade in goods for the fourteen Forum island countries excluding Australia and New Zealand. PICTA was endorsed at the Forum Heads of Government meeting in Nauru in August 2001 and provides for the phased elimination of tariffs between island countries. The larger island economies should have abolished most tariffs by 2009 and the smaller ones by 2011. The phasing in of the agreement over this period is to be accompanied by strategies to help governments adopt alternative taxes and economic reform measures to compensate for the revenue they will lose from tariff reductions.[10]
  2. the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) was also endorsed at the Forum meeting in Nauru in 2001. It sets out a broader umbrella agreement for all Forum members including Australia and New Zealand.
  3. an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) is being negotiated between the European Union and Pacific members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific grouping (EU-ACP), under the Cotonou Agreement. A deal is scheduled to be finalised by December 2007, but recent disagreements have indicated that the agreement may not be forged by that date.

These three trade negotiations are interlinked. For example, PACER requires that Australia and New Zealand be treated at least on the same negotiating basis as the European Union. Hence, any provisions agreed to by Pacific Island nations under the EPA will have a flow on effect on trade agreements with their more immediate neighbours.

PICTA currently covers trade in goods, but the Forum leaders' meeting in 2005 agreed on the need for "integration of trades in services, including temporary movement of labour", although this is occurring without sufficient study of possible social, cultural and environmental impacts. There is growing debate over the economic and social impacts of labour mobility, and the potential to further exacerbate the current  ¢â‚¬Ëœbrain drain' from the Pacific which takes professionals to jobs offshore that offer better pay or career advancement, while low or semi-skilled workers, who also need cash, are left behind with limited employment opportunities.

Agreement on issues like labour mobility and services in the EPA have important implications for PACER, which is a more important agreement for Pacific island governments (given the much greater significance of Australia and New Zealand as sources of investment and markets for future employment of Pacific Islanders)

Labour mobility and labour rights

Globally, the amount of remittances sent home by overseas workers now doubles the level of Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) to developing countries.[11] As part of the debate on trade, the issue of labour mobility is firmly on the regional agenda.

Pacific island governments see access to the labour markets of Australia and New Zealand as a crucial element in long-term job creation and development. Island community and government leaders have long argued that increased access to the Australian and New Zealand labour markets, especially for unskilled workers, should be a central component of regional economic integration. At the October 2005 Forum meeting which adopted the Pacific Plan, PNG Foreign Minister Sir Rabbie Namaliu stated:

"We believe that permitting increased labour mobility should be part of Australia's and New Zealand's commitment to implementing the Pacific Plan. It is one way to demonstrate to our leaders that they are serious about assisting island countries to develop their capacity and their economies."[12]

The World Bank has also been actively promoting increased labour mobility as an element of trade liberalisation in the region, as most Pacific island countries (PICs) are experiencing relatively low growth rates, at the same time they face significant population growth. A 2006 World Bank report states that the projected population growth between 2004 and 2029 will be 25.5 per cent in Fiji but much higher in other countries: Papua New Guinea (72.2 per cent), Solomon Islands (75.3 per cent), Vanuatu (89.7 per cent), Kiribati (72.7 per cent), Marshall Islands (82.4 per cent).[13]

In Australia, Prime Minister Howard and Foreign Minister Downer have rejected proposals for seasonal worker schemes. New Zealand's October 2006 decision to begin a Recognised Seasonal Employer policy - to open a new window for unskilled workers - won significant support from island governments, and there is ongoing pressure for Australia to follow suit by creating a seasonal labour program. However labour schemes in the Pacific will only work if the community sector and trade unions act to protect labour rights and address the social impacts of regional labour mobility.[14]

Pacific men are travelling overseas to take up employment opportunities, seeking the three E's (education, employment and enjoyment) but often ending up with the three D's & jobs that are dirty, difficult and dangerous (for example, there are hundreds of Fijians currently working in Iraq as security guards, truck drivers and labourers & more than twenty have been killed.[15]) In turn, women must deal with the consequences of the three Ms - mobile men with money & and the burden on those who remain at home and are responsible for family care and upkeep.

Around the region, women's labour is central to food security, health and care within the family. But Pacific women are facing many challenges to improving livelihoods and their lack of economic empowerment means that they may remain stuck in situations of violence. The focus on trade liberalisation and public sector cutbacks are doubly discriminatory against women - not only does the loss of jobs in the public sector affect women in particular (especially in areas like health and education which have a high proportion of female employees), but at the same time cutbacks to or privatisation of basic services place a disproportionate burden on women by impacting on their role in family life (childcare, care for the elderly and sick etc).

Changing patterns of international trade also impact women by affecting the few areas of private sector employment that provide significant numbers of job opportunities in the Pacific (e.g. garment factories and fish canning plants which have a high rate of female employees).[16] Today, there is increasing evidence of women moving offshore, seeking employment as health workers, domestic carers or in other trades. These women are often engaged in precarious work (part-time, casual or temporary jobs) that does not provide secure employment, union membership, or provident funds.

For the labour movements in Australia and New Zealand, there is a need for increased analysis and debate on these new trends in labour mobility (which will only be exacerbated as food security and land tenure in Asia and the Pacific are affected by global warming and extreme weather events).

Nauru & a case study on aid conditionality and public sector reform

For over a decade, Australia has used its overseas aid budget to promote "Policy Management and Reform" in the Pacific. To highlight the ways that aid funds are used to support policy change, it's worth looking at one recent example - the small Micronesian island state of Nauru.

Until independence in 1968, Nauru was administered by Australia under a UN Trusteeship, and the centre of the island was ravaged by phosphate mining.[17] The Nauru Phosphate Royalties Trust was established in 1968 to invest royalties from this key export commodity. However Nauru's economy has been faltering since the early 1990s, due to the decline of the export price of phosphate, reduced production by the Nauru Phosphate Corporation and mismanagement of the country's invested assets.

In spite of Nauru's relative wealth during the 1970s and 1980s, the capital and assets managed through the Phosphate Royalties Trust (including property investments in Australia and the Pacific and the resources of Air Nauru) were squandered by successive governments. Business deals went bad and politicians agreed to a host of uninformed investment decisions.[18] The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has estimated that per capita income in the island state of just 10,000 people has dropped from US$2000 in 2004 to US$500 in 2005.[19]

Given the poor economic circumstances of its former trust territory, Australia has used the opportunity to intervene in Nauru's politics and economy. Since 2001, the Howard government has detained nearly 1700 asylum seekers and refugees in camps on Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, through a program known as the "Pacific Solution".[20] This policy of offshore processing of applications for refugee protection has been widely criticised for the human and financial costs. But less widely publicised are the ways that this scheme has been used to promote Australia's "economic reform" agenda.

As part of the Pacific Solution since 2001, Australia has increased its aid to Nauru fivefold in comparison to the 1990s. However the aid to Nauru is tied to strict conditions requiring reform of economic and governance structures. The Australia-Nauru Memorandum of Understanding governing the program states that ongoing aid is conditional on "implementation of the public sector reform strategy, resulting in implementation of an affordable scale of salary payments and design of a strategy for a substantial reduction in the size of the Nauru public service." The MOU states that "should Nauru fail to meet these reform commitments, then the level of development assistance provided by Australia may be reduced."[21]

Nauru has 12 state owned enterprises that employed some 2,000 people when the government led by President Ludwig Scotty came to power in October 2004 & the largest is the Nauru Phosphate Corporation with 1,500 staff, which is involved in mining, power, water and port management.

Australia has funded the ADB research into the future of the Phosphate Corporation and other public utilities.[22] The fourth MOU between Australia and Nauru sets out requirements that must be met, including a study on the privatisation of the RONTEL telecommunications authority and "agreement to implement the preferred option identified through the ADB Technical Assistance on reforming power and water services." This includes the "phased introduction of a broader user pays system for power services." (Schedule C, MOU).

The decision to promote private sector control over public utilities across the Pacific is controversial, especially in small states where there is limited opportunity for competition between providers. Privatisation will mean the shift from public monopoly to private monopoly. Like other Pacific Island Countries, Nauru does not have the regulatory capacity to control the behaviour of private sector operators - in most PICs, Ombudsman's offices and leadership codes are directed at public service and government operations, not the private sector, and there is limited capacity for the regulation provided by bodies like the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

The privatisation of public services will place significant burdens on the community, through loss of employment affecting wider family groups, and increased "user pays" policies hurting the poorest sector of the community. Even the ADB has acknowledged the difficulties of promoting private sector investment in these areas:

"Given the size of the economy of Nauru and the history of poor governance, potential private investors are likely to view the country as high risk. Options for privatising water and electricity services may be meagre, short term and require high returns to cover risk. The country also lacks the capacity to regulate and monitor a private sector monopoly."[23]

There are fundamental questions of accountability in this process - it's uncertain that public sector reform will achieve the stated aims of efficiency and ending corruption. In the Fiji context, academic Satendra Prasad has argued that "public sector reforms increase, rather than reduce the potential for corruption", due to the reduction of government oversight and the lack of corporate accountability through the use of "commercial in confidence" secrecy.[24]

Land and conflict

As well as reforms to public utilities, Australia and New Zealand are promoting new programs for land registration, land titling and land mobilisation:

  • AusAID's Regional Aid Strategy for the Pacific 2004-2009 commits to "continue and expand programs to introduce modern land titling and improved land management systems." The strategy argues that "traditional communal systems of land ownership have led to a low level of security of tenure for investors which impacts on the development of the private sector and economic growth."[25]
  • NZAID's draft Pacific Regional Strategy 2006-2015 says New Zealand will be "supporting appropriate land tenure reform."
  • The European Union has included a call for greater foreign ownership of land in its requests to Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands under WTO GATS negotiations
  • A Ministerial White Paper on Overseas Aid, launched by Foreign Minister Alexander Downer in April 2006, notes: "The aid program will encourage growth by improving the policy environment for private sector growth. Initiatives include a collaborative and demand-driven Pacific Land Mobilisation Program to explore the major land tenure constraints to growth in the region."[26]

However for indigenous peoples in the Pacific, land is at the centre of life: as a source of livelihood through subsistence activities; a source of power, authority and status through ownership; and above all as a source of security and identity. Around the region, there are significant variations in land tenure systems, but issues of land ownership, usage or degradation are at the heart of many conflicts in the Pacific. There are fundamental conflicts between land and resource owners, governments and transnational corporations over who controls the vast wealth of the Pacific. There are extensive reserves of timber and strategic metals such as copper, gold, nickel and cobalt throughout Melanesia. The island nations' 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) give sovereignty and control over fisheries and marine resources around every islet, reef and archipelago. The ocean seabed also harbours wealth such as polymetallic nodules and oil and gas reserves.

The pressure to rapidly develop domestic economies and the apparently ready returns to be gained from the exploitation of the region's natural resources has led Melanesian governments to base their development strategies on natural resources exploitation (timber, minerals, fisheries). However these policies often bring little real benefit to most communities and come with high environmental and social costs.

The ways in which natural resources are extracted can devastate ecosystems and destroy indigenous cultures and livelihoods, as was shown with major projects such as Ok Tedi (PNG), Panguna (Bougainville) and Freeport (West Papua). Clear fell logging and the disposal of mining tailings have caused serious environmental damage and local landowners have fought back against this despoliation. In turn, governments have relied on police and military forces to control these enclave resource developments, sparking a cycle of repression, conflict and further militarisation.

This tendency towards large scale natural resources developments has been exacerbated by a buoyant natural resources market, fed by growing demand from China. There is a need for further research on the role of Asian investment in the Pacific islands, as there are many sectors where there are significant capital investments (for example, the Malaysian logging firm Rimbunan Hijau in Papua New Guinea, China's new investments in the Ramu nickel project; growing tourism from China, Korea and South East Asia etc.)

Militarisation and Conflict

Media commentators often present conflicts in the Pacific as "ethnic" clashes & between Fijians and Indians, Kanaks and French settlers, Guadalcanal islanders and Malaitans & suggesting that conflict arises from the failure of island communities to adapt to modern Western models of democracy, governance and economic development. But debates over identity and ethnicity take place in a broader context of economic change, affected by the failure of a development model promoted by former colonial powers and overseas aid donors.

The major source of crisis in the islands is not "ethnic violence", but the militarisation of political and social disputes, arising from the interaction of local struggles for power and resources - particularly land, paid employment and services & and global economic trends that disadvantage small island developing states. With no credible external military threats, security doctrines have now turned inwards to deal with threats to the security of the State from resource and landowners, indigenous groups and movements for democratic rights.

Although internal repression has not reached the level of many other Asian states, a worrying feature of some Pacific island nations is the militarisation of their police forces and engagement of military forces in political life (such as the four coups d'etat in Fiji, or the PNGDF intervention in Bougainville during the 1990s). The blurring of roles and responsibilities between military and unarmed constabulary is a major concern. In Papua New Guinea, PNGDF military troops have been used in the policing of industrial disputes; clashes with land and resource owners over mineral and timber projects; and crackdowns on criminal raskol gangs and unemployed youths.[27]

Perceptions of conflict in neighbouring island states have driven new interventions by Australia and New Zealand. Australia, with New Zealand and PIC support, has intervened in Solomon Islands since July 2003 under the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), with the deployment of a large military and police contingent. Although this is supposed to be a regional initiative, Australia is the dominant player in RAMSI - by mid 2006, 152 out of 173 civilian advisors were Australians, while only five were Pacific islanders.[28]

With Australian operations in Solomon Islands, Timor and Papua New Guinea, there is an increased role for the Australian Federal Police (AFP) as well as the Australian Defence Force (ADF). Since 2004, AFP officers have been posted as police commissioners to Solomon Islands, Fiji and Nauru.[29] AFP officers are currently based in many Pacific capitals for liaison and training operations. The has been extended through the Law Enforcement Co-operation Program (LECP) which has supported the development of the Pacific Transnational Crime Co-ordination Centre in Fiji, with teams in transnational crime centres in Suva, Port Vila, Honiara, Port Moresby, Nuku'alofa, and Apia. The 2004 budget allocated $21.4 million over 4 years for the extension of this network throughout Melanesia.

In September 2004, the first of 200 Australian police were deployed to Papua New Guinea under the Extended Co-operation (ECP). However the size of the planned deployment has now been sharply reduced in scale after questions of immunity and jurisdiction were raised.[30]

Since October 2004, the AFP provision has seconded a Police Commissioner, a Protection Unit Advisor and a Senior Training Advisor to Nauru, under an agreement signed on 10 May 2004 with the previous government of President Rene Harris.[31] This agreement makes clear that Australian police are governed by Australian, rather than Nauruan law:

  • Under Article 3, the head of the Assisting Australian Police shall be responsible to the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police (AFP).
  • Under Article 4, "any tasks or orders carried out by Assisting Australian Police Personnel shall be consistent with the laws, procedures and standards of conduct applicable to them in Australia. Assisting Australian Police Personnel will be subject to Australian disciplinary laws and procedures."
  • Under Article 5, Assisting Australian Police Personnel shall not be subject to "the jurisdiction of any Nauruan disciplinary authority, court or tribunal."
  • Under Article 11.2 of the Agreement, the Australian Government is responsible for the salary, allowances, removal expenses, costs of transport to Nauru, and medical and dental expenses of Australian officials deployed to Nauru. Australia is also responsible for personnel accommodation and transport costs within Nauru.

The International Deployment Group (IDG) was formed in February 2004 to manage the deployment of Australian police overseas. In 2006, Prime Minister Howard announced the IDG will increase from 800 to 1200 people, including the creation of a 150-strong Operational Response Group (ORG) "who can deploy at short notice in response to law and order issues and undertake stabilisation operations."

In August 2006, the government announced that the AFP would receive additional funding of $493 million - the biggest funding boost since the agencies inception in 1979.

There are now a range of police, security and intelligence bodies working at inter- governmental level on regional security issues: the Oceania Customs Organisation (OCO), the South Pacific Chiefs of Police Conference (SPCPC), the Combined Law Agency Group (CLAG). There has been an extension of support for regional security programs (customs and immigration training, police training, diplomacy training, intelligence sharing etc). There is also the International Training Complex in Canberra, which is used for training of AFP and Pacific island police forces, with training in counter-terrorism, search and rescue, protection and forensics.

As part of the war on terror, there has been increased focus on intelligence and counter-terrorism operations. Between 2004 - 2008, $29.6 million was budgeted for the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Co-operation "to strengthen regional co-operation and skills in combating terrorism." Officers from Pacific police forces, including Papua New Guinea and Fiji, have attended JCLEC courses.

The Australian Secret Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) got $1.2 million in the 2004-05 budget over four years to provide counter-terrorism training to Melanesian countries. The Attorney General's Department (AGO) Protective Security Co-ordination Centre has also been active in regional counter-terrorism training exercises, including a discussion exercise at the Pacific Islands Forum in November 2005 and the New Zealand Guardian CT exercise in May 2006. Visitors from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Indonesia observed Mercury 05, the largest counter-terrorism exercise ever conducted in Australia.

The Pacific Islands Forum has created a Forum Working Group on Counter-Terrorism, with New Zealand hosting Exercise Ready Pasifika in Auckland in April 2006. New Zealand's MFAT has also established a Pacific Security Fund, and in January 2007 announced a grant to the UN Terrorism Prevention Branch to assist with the development of counter-terrorism legislation in Pacific island countries.

An alternative vision for the Pacific

There has been growing concern about the social and cultural impacts arising from the neo-liberal orthodoxy that underlies these trade and security programs.[32] Churches and NGOs have established a Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG). A regional Gender and Trade Network is analysing the impact of WTO policies on Pacific women and young people, and feminist scholars and activists have been documenting the particular impacts of debt, trade and reform policies on women and poverty.[33]

Indigenous landowners have tried to resist the alienation of their land for tourism and mining projects.[34] Public sector employees, farmers groups and university students have resisted government cutbacks, while in Fiji and Papua New Guinea there have been protests against the privatisation of public utilities like water and electricity. Some protests have led to conflict with the authorities - in June 2001, several thousand students and their supporters marched to Parliament House, shouting "Rausim [kick out] World Bank, Rausim IMF, Rausim Australia." The aftermath of the protest led to a mobile police assault against the University of Papua New Guinea, with four shot dead and many more wounded.

But civil society groups and trade unions are relatively weak in the Pacific. They face pressure from governments (such as travel bans on NGO activists by the post-coup interim administration in Fiji) or co-option by donors who are funding civil society programs but refuse to allow advocacy and lobbying.[35] It's important that groups in Australia, New Zealand and Asia extend solidarity to the people of the islands. Trad