World Trade Organization - WTO

Source: Social Watch Blog
Civil Society open letter to WTO Director General, Pascal Lamy, as a reaction to his speech during the 11-13 January 2010 Colloquium on Human Rights in the Global Economy, co-organized by the International Council on Human Rights and Realizing Rights in Geneva. February 2010. [see more]
In line with the final accords of the Uruguay Round of the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade), the World Trade Organization (WTO) began operating on 1 January 1995. This replacement for the GATT was designed to promote a new era in international trade relations.

The creation of the WTO sought to establish a new legal framework to ensure that trade laws conformed to the evolution of the world economy and its multilateral trade system. One hundred and twenty countries signed the foundational document (Marrakesh, 1994), after seven years of negotiations. As of 27 July 2007 the number of member countries had risen to 151.

Officially, the WTO describes itself as a "democratic" organization which seeks "to improve the welfare of the peoples of the member countries" through trade liberalization. However, civil society and many governments from developing countries consider it to be "one of the least transparent organizations", which excludes less developed countries from its negotiations and favours the interests of wealthy countries.

For these reasons the WTO is one of the organizations whose work is closely monitored by non-governmental organizations. Its ministerial meetings –the institution's highest decision-making body- have been transformed into opportunities for mass protest by anti-globalization movements.

After Singapore '96 came Geneva '98 and Seattle '99. Before the Doha Ministerial Conference (2001) developing countries made it very clear that they did not want to negotiate new agreements. Instead, they wanted to tackle the issue of implementation, and they presented proposals in that sense. But such proposals were left out of the declaration that resulted from Doha, known as the 'Doha Development Agenda'.

The Fifth WTO Ministerial Conference was held in Cancun, Mexico in September 2003. Just as Seattle '99, it ended without an agreement, due primarily to the refusal of a majority of developing countries to launch a new round of negotiations on the so-called 'Singapore issues' (investment, competition policies, transparency in government procurement, and trade facilitation).

The collapse of the Cancun Ministerial has strengthened the argument -asserted by poor countries and the anti-globalization movement- that the WTO is in need of reform and democratization.

The 6th WTO Ministerial Meeting was held from 13-18 December 2005 in Hong Kong.

Choike in-depth reports on WTO Ministerial Conferences

Fourth WTO Conference - Doha 2001

Fifth WTO Conference - Cancun 2003

Sixth WTO Conference - Hong Kong 2005
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Thursday, December 03 2009
Seventh WTO Ministerial Conference: missed opportunity to address global challenges
(Source: Civil Society networks)
Friday, November 20 2009
The Doha Round: an examination of where the Development Round is headed
(Source: Council on Hemispheric Affairs)

Official information

World Trade Organization

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

The future of the WTO (WTO)

World Trade Report (WTO)

The Doha development agenda

The Doha Round: an examination of where the Development Round is headed (Council on Hemispheric Affairs)

The WTO and other trade tales (Americas Policy Program, Center for International Policy (CIP))

How trade, the WTO and the financial crisis reinforce each other (Casino Crash)

The new geopolitics of trade and the collapse of WTO mini-ministerial (International Gender and Trade Network - Geneva Office)

WTO negotiations: the success of Doha round failure (International Gender and Trade Network)

Bolivian President Evo Morales on the WTO's Round of Negotiations (Upside Down World)

Is NAMA a tool of development? Or another manifestation of asymmetries in WTO rules? (IDEAs)

Is what is good for "sealing" Doha talks good for the trading system? (Third World Network)

Reconciling trade and human rights: the new development agenda (Rights and Democracy & Canadian Council for International Cooperation)

"Doha is dead", time to rethink a new model of trade (Third World Network)

Confronting the real challenges: where next for the Doha negotiations on agriculture? (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy)

Measuring the cost of lost policy space at the WTO (IRC – Americas Program)

Africa and the WTO Doha Round: an overview (Development Policy Review)

The WTO's Doha negotiations and impasse: a development perspective (Third World Network)

Doha comes back without a bang: WTO members miss a chance for a new approach (Trade Observatory)

The Doha Development Agenda and Aid for Trade: finding the policy link (International Gender and Trade Network)

Why the collapse of Doha is an opportunity for a better trading system (Trade Observatory)

All Doha talks suspended at WTO as G6 Ministerial collapses (Third World Network)

A recipe for disaster: Will the Doha Round fail to deliver for development? (Oxfam)

Aid for trade (South Centre)

Trade: Reclaiming development in WTO Doha Round (Third World Network)

Where are we in the Doha round? (International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD))

Looming threat to local industries (Third World Network)

Dumping on the poor: the Common Agricultural Policy, the WTO and International Development (CAFOD)

Will the Doha round play a role in ending global poverty? (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy)

Implications of some WTO rules on the realization of the MDGs (United Nations Development Programme - UNDP)

WTO talks end with imbalanced deal (Third World Network Features)

July WTO General Council meeting setback for Africa (Pambazuka)

Developing countries call for Doha outcome to realize, not just reflect, development aims (Third World Network)

Draft framework text is "Doha-minus" (Third World Network Features)

The multilateral trading system at the crossroads (Tebtebba)

Is the WTO collapsing under its own ambitions? (Focus on the Global South)

Doha Development Agenda (WTO)

The new work programme of the WTO (Third World Network)


The WTO's Doha negotiations: an assessment (Third World Network)

Moving past the pain: time for a new trade framework (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy)

Alternatives to the collapsed WTO Doha round talks (Counter Currents)

Developing country alliances in the WTO: South-South solidarity at a crossroads (Eldis)

Under the influence (ActionAid)

Breaking out of the mould: Reflections on the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy)

Beyond the WTO (Transnational Institute - TNI)

Agriculture: why the EU, US offers are not good enough (Third World Network)

WTO General Council meeting ends with 'no outcome' (Third World Network)

Business threatens development at talks (IPS)

A development-oriented approach to tariff reduction (Third World Network)

Report on WTO NAMA negotiations session of 6-10 June (Third World Network)

The WTO negotiations on industrial tariffs: what is at stake for developing countries? (Third World Network)

G33 developing countries warn against tariff reduction (Third World Network)

GSTP for enhancing South-South trade (Third World Network Features)

How the WTO talks will affect developing countries (Third World Network Features)

Transparency, participation and reform at the WTO

Trading our way out of the financial crisis: the need for WTO reform (Americas Policy Program, Center for International Policy (CIP))

Reforming the WTO: toward more democratic governance and decision-making (Gaddafi Foundation for Development)

G90 plus developing countries issue development declaration on WTO's Doha talks (Third World Network)

Alternative finances (Global Policy Forum - Le Monde diplomatique)

Whither the world trading system? (Institute for Global Dialogue)

Divide and rule: the EU and US response to developing country alliances at the WTO (ActionAid)

The end of an illusion: WTO reform, global civil society and the road to Hong Kong (Focus on the Global South)

G20 Declaration makes demands on subsidies, market access, SDT (Third World Network)

“Future of WTO” report launched, with some controversial proposals (Third World Network)

SIDS summit presses for inclusiveness in WTO decision-making process (Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery)

G 20 leaders succumb to divide-and-rule tactics (Focus on the Global South)

African countries and the WTO dispute settlement system (Tralac)

Reform the WTO's decision-making processes (Third World Network)

African Countries and the WTO Dispute Settlement System (Tralac)

Power politics in the WTO (Focus on the Global South)

Doha-style democracy for WTO at Cancun? (Third World Network)

Towards a development-supportive dispute settlement system in the WTO (International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development)

World trade or world domination? (Mother Jones)

Trade and development

Trade and development (Choike)

Civil society


Polaris Institute

Trade Observatory - WTO Watch (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy)

International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development

Global Economy and the WTO (Global Exchange)

The WTO and the Environment (Friends of the Earth International)

Focus on the World Trade Organization (IISD)

Our World is not for Sale

Farmers' voices on international trade and the right to food (ICHRDD)

NGOs criticize WTO’s Hong Kong outcome (Third World Network)

WTO Lottery (CorpWatch)

Ministerial conferences

Leaving the WTO behind (Alter Net)

How the WTO's Hong Kong Ministerial adopted its Declaration (TWN)

Reassessing risks and dangers, on the eve of Hong Kong (Third World Network)

Sixth WTO Ministerial Conference - Hong Kong 2005 (Choike)

Official information (WTO)

Two winners, one loser at WTO Conference (Third World Network)

WTO: Second Ministerial Conference (Third World Network)

Seattle WTO Ministerial Conference: the process, events and positions (Third World Network)

WTO Doha Ministerial: reports and analyses (Third World Network)

A new beginning for WTO after Cancun (Trade Observatory)


The New Work Programme of the WTO (Third World Network - TWN)

The World Trade Organisation: an African Perspective, more than a decade later (Tralac)

The cost of trade liberalisation (InfoChange India)

From the slave trade to 'free trade': how trade undermines democracy and justice in Africa (Fahamu)

Whose Trade Organization?: A Comprehensive Guide To the WTO (Public Citizen)

The Uruguay Round

From GATT-Uruguay Round to the WTO (SUNS – South-North Development Monitor)

Understanding the WTO: the Uruguay Round (WTO)

Singapore issues

Competition policy in the WTO and FTAA: a Trojan Horse for international trade negotiations? (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives)

Singapore issues downgraded at WTO? (Third World Network)

Group of 90 developing countries say Singapore issues should be dropped from the WTO (Third World Network)

Four arguments against a plurilateral approach to Singapore issues in WTO

WTO wrangle over the ‘Singapore issues’ (Third World Network)

Singapore issues: the way forward (Third World Network)

Foreign investment regulation in historical perspective: lessons for the proposed WTO agreement on investment (Third World Network)

Social impact of free trade

Trading away our jobs: how free trade threatens employment around the world (War on Want)

Beijing + 10 meets WTO + 10: assessing the impact of trade liberalization on women's human rights (International Gender and Trade Network)

Concentration in corporate power 2005 (ETC group)

Getting workers interests on the WTO agenda (ICFTU)

Final trade union statement on the WTO Hong Kong agenda (ICFTU)

Ten years of the WTO: subordinating development to free trade (Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung)

WTO's newest threat to environmental and health laws (Friends of the Earth)

The WTO, international trade, and human rights (3D: Trade – Human Rights – Equitable Economy)

International trade: Why should we be interested? What can we do? (3D: Trade – Human Rights – Equitable Economy)

Call to review bilateral trade deals (Third World Network Features)

Towards development: human rights and the WTO agenda (3D: Trade - Human Rights - Equitable Economy)

Trade issues, rules and the WTO (Third World Network)

Reforming global trade in agriculture: A developing-country perspective (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

Developing countries and the WTO negotiations (IFPRI)

WTO History Project

Viability and credibility of WTO at risk: new WTO agenda necessary (Interhemispheric Resource Center)

Gender and trade

The hopes and illusions of world trade liberalisation for women in Africa (Pambazuka)

International Gender and Trade Network

Women’s rights and the multilateral trading system: the politics of gender mainstreaming at the WTO (International Gender and Trade Network)

EU trade policy dismisses social and gender justice and undermines environmental sustainability (Friends of the Earth Europe and Women in Development Europe (WIDE))

Gender and trade 2006 (Bridge)

Key issues towards the WTO Ministerial Conference (IGTN)

Gender and the removal of industrial tariffs (International Gender and Trade Network (IGTN))

Indian women in the age of globalization (InfoChange India)

Women’s resistance to the WTO from small island economies (Caribbean Gender and Trade Network (CGTN))

Aid for trade

Aid for Trade: Cool Aid or Kool-Aid? (Group of 24)

"Aid for Trade": another missed opportunity to make trade work for development? (Fair Trade)

Aid for trade – The process so far, but what next? (CUTS International)

Statement on Global Aid for Trade Review (Realizing Rights)

The hitchhikers guide to "Aid for Trade": everything you need to know to prepare for the Global Review (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy)

Aid for Trade (WTO)

Can aid fix trade?: assessing the WTO's Aid for Trade agenda (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy)

Civil society statements

The impact of trade liberalization on the realization of human rights: Civil Society open letter to Pascal Lamy (Social Watch Blog)

Seventh WTO Ministerial Conference: missed opportunity to address global challenges (Civil Society networks)

The Doha round is dead: a new era for other world food policies out of the WTO (La Via Campesina)

Doha Round will not solve global food crisis, say NGOs (Third World Network)

Declaration of African civil society - August 2005 (TWN Africa)

NGO letter to WTO heads (Civil Society Observer)

ICFTU calls for WTO to promote openness and transparency (ICFTU)

Information resources

International Forum on Globalization

WTO Terminology Database (WTO)

Managing the challenges of WTO participation: 45 case studies (WTO)

Fact sheet: what you need to know about trade-finance policy coherence (Center of Concern-U.S. Gender and Trade Network)

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