The following is the official World Trade Organisation response to, and a hoax email from the Yes Men that sparked off, a fair bit of confusion on the web over the past week.
More of the work of The Yes Men can be viewed at http://theyesmen.org/. Readers may also be interested to view the remarkable resemblances between the http://www.wto.org and http://www.gatt.org websites.
World Trade Organization - Warning
Date sent: Thu, 23 May 2002 16:13:01 +0200
World Trade Organization – Hoax PR Warning
Some of you may have received a press release from those clever folks at "Yes Men" which purports to be a press release from the "World Trade Organization Public Relations."
This press release states that the WTO will disband and be reformed under a new charter as the Trade Regulation Organization. Needless to say, the communique is a hoax.
The release is quite cleverly written and it expresses noble sentiments which include addressing the problem of market access for poor countries and the importance of considering the development dimension in trade negotiations. In fact, such sentiments are so noble that the 144 WTO Member Governments committed themselves to precisely these objectives at the Doha Ministerial Conference last November. ( http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/minist_e/min01_e/mindecl_e.htm )
Through the use of their WebSite ( http://www.gatt.org) and other media tools, the Yes Men have had impressive success in duping various organizations around the world into believing that they are representatives of the WTO. While we can appreciate their sense of humour, we would not wish for reputable news organizations like yours to be counted among those duped.
Please contact us if you have any questions.
KEITH M. ROCKWELL Director, Information and Media Relations
HOAX EMAIL FOLLOWS…
Subject: [vicwto] WTO to shut down, refound under
new charter based on UN
Declaration of Human Rights
Date: Thu, 23 May 2002 23:30:05 +1000
[NOTE: On May 21, information regarding the WTO's restructuring was released prematurely at a special luncheon of CPA Australia, Sydney ( http://www.aapmedianet.com.au/scripts/DisplayRelease.dll?id=304601). The early release of this information, which met with overwhelming approval, has accelerated this announcement, originally scheduled for next Friday.]
May 23, 2002
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION WILL DISBAND, REFOUND UNDER NEW CHARTER
After a protracted and detailed review of current trade policy and its effects on developing countries, the World Trade Organization has decided to effect a cessation of all operations, to be accomplished over a period of four months, culminating in September. The WTO will reintegrate as a new trade body whose charter will be to ensure that trade benefits the poor.
As of September, agreements reached under the WTO will be suspended pending ratification by the new organization, tentatively referred to as the Trade Regulation Organization. Many existing agreements are likely to be re-ratified, but each will be subject to individual review for compliance with the TRO's charter, which is based upon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The restructuring has come in response to numerous studies ( http://www.gatt.org/trastat_e/) indicating that current trade liberalisation rules and policies have led to increased poverty and inequality, and have eroded democratic principles, with a disproportionately large effect on the poorest countries.
Under the restructuring, the GATS agreement will be scrapped entirely, and a new agreement regulating services will be forged after an assessment of the effects of past services liberalisation, and when there has been adequate opportunity for governments and civil society to analyse and debate new proposals.
In addition, all aspects of TRIPS, TRIMS, AoA, and other agreements will be reviewed with humanitarian and other considerations in mind, and will be progressively replaced with corresponding versions under the TRO.
Proposals and resolutions for the foundation of the TRO will be evaluated beginning in June according to their likelihood of furthering the TRO charter. Specifically this will mean redressing the imbalances of existing trade agreements; providing access for developing countries to developed countries' markets; assessing the effects past trade liberalization and redressing problems where possible; and developing an enforceable framework for special and differential treatment guaranteeing that development policies are not undermined by trade agreements.
The immediate necessity, besides fixing core problems, will be to build a new regime of trust among members (notably between HIC and LDC members), with civil society organizations (NGOs), and with members of the public. The core goal is to establish rules whose priority is to benefit the poor, improve the environment, and strengthen democratic principles--in a pragmatic and immediate rather than theoretical and longterm sense.
In order to provide greater access to the Least Developed Countries who will most benefit from the existence of the TRO, the organisation's headquarters will be moved from their current location in Geneva to the capital of one of the LDCs. Proposals for final location are currently being solicited.
World Trade Organization Public Relations: firstname.lastname@example.org CPA Australia Public Relations: email@example.com
United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights: http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html
Studies page: http://www.gatt.org/trastat_e/
This release online: http://www.gatt.org/
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