NGOs blocked at last minute from WTO summit in Argentina

NGOs blocked at last minute from WTO summit in Argentina

Date: 30 November 2017

  • Director of Global Justice Now among those banned from next week’s World Trade Organisation summit in Argentina, day after giving oral evidence in UK Parliament on trade policy
  • Argentina due to host G20 meeting next year

Global Justice Now condemns the last minute decision to block dozens of civil society experts and campaigners from next week’s World Trade Organisation summit in Argentina. The decision, apparently made by the Argentinian Government for undisclosed reasons, is unprecedented in recent WTO history.

Observers from Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America had their approved accreditation withdrawn by the WTO yesterday. Groups including Global Justice Now, Friends of the Earth International and the Transnational Institute are among those affected. Senior WTO officials said that they didn’t know the reason for the decision despite frequent requests for information from Argentina’s government. Many of the organisations have participated in summits since the WTO was founded.

Argentina’s civil society groups also reported on its own members being blocked from the summit and visas being denied to people duly accredited by the WTO. They rejected the “unilateral and authoritarian measures.” It is believed to be the first time in more than 15 years that a host government has taken a decision of this nature.

Trade campaigners from across the world called upon Argentina’s government to immediately reverse its decision and comply with human rights obligations. The decision also raises questions about the ability of President Macri of Argentina to host next year’s G20, also due to happen in Buenos Aires.

Nick Dearden, Director of Global Justice Now said: 
“We have been attending the WTO for over a decade, and believe a civil society presence is fundamental in ensuring the voice of the tens of millions of ordinary people affected by the WTO’s policies are heard. We have never before received this treatment from a host government – to have our entire delegation’s accreditation cancelled at the last minute without any reason being given.

“If the WTO believes in the importance of civil society’s voice, we call on them to move the Summit to a country where people are able to participate freely. We also call on the G20 to reconsider the location of their summit next year, as President Macri has clearly shown that his government does not respect democracy or pluralism.”

Yesterday Dearden gave oral evidence to the International Trade Committee in Parliament on the UK’s government’s Trade Bill. If the UK fails to agree a trade deal with the EU for after Brexit, it will revert to WTO terms, making this year ‘s ministerial the WTO a crucial forum for UK public policy.

1. The 11th WTO ministerial is taking place from 10-13 December in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
2. Nick Dearden was an expert witness to the International Trade Committee on Wednesday 29 November, see:

Call on the Argentinian government to reverse the ban: