The Guardian August 28, 2002


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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For more information, visit http://www.foe.org/earthsummit

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