Free trade takeover of Earth Summit:
US and EU bullying revealed on first day of talks
JOHANNESBURG: On the first day (August 25) of informal negotiations at the Johannesburg Earth Summit, Friends of the Earth International, Greenpeace International and Third World Network obtained a leaked copy of a joint US/EU negotiating paper, which they said threatened to hijack the Earth Summit process and turn it from a sustainable development into a trade summit. The international NGOs blasted the EU and the US for trying to bulldoze their trade and globalisation agenda through the Earth Summit process. The groups said that Johannesburg was being turned from Rio+10 into Doha +10 months. The groups said that the (US/EU) paper moves forward the rich countries' trade liberalisation and corporate globalisation priorities at the expense of adequately addressing the issues of environmental protection, poverty relief and sustainable development that the Earth Summit is supposed to be about. The groups called on President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, the official Chair of the Earth Summit, to resist US and EU pressure and to ensure that the negotiating process is held in the open with all countries and NGOs represented. South Africa should not allow this paper, the current status of which is unclear, to become the main negotiating text on the key issues trade and finance. The negotiations should proceed on the basis of the draft implementation plan agreed at the last talks in June in Bali, and the negotiations should be open for all countries to be present, as well as NGOs. The Earth Summit is the only political process where all the Governments are supposed to be able to negotiate freely around global environment and development problems — irrespective of size or economic power. The US/EU approach is likely to cause substantial frustration amongst other countries, because this paper smacks of a top down approach in which — just like at the WTO — the two major power houses strike a deal and then try to pressurise other countries to accept their agenda.
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