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WTO chief blasts 'dot.com types'

by BBC Sunday, Jul. 08, 2001 at 6:32 AM

"It would strengthen the hand of those who seek change if some NGOs would distance themselves from... anti-globalisation dot.com types who trot out slogans that are trite, shallow and superficial" WTO chief Mike Moore

WTO chief blasts 'do...
mikemoore.jpg, image/jpeg, 315x180

Friday, 6 July, 2001, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK

WTO chief blasts 'dot.com types'

World Trade Organisation (WTO) chief Mike Moore has called for "rules of engagement" to be drawn-up to prevent anti-globalisation protests spilling over into violence.

Speaking at a two-day WTO symposium in Geneva, Mr Moore called on genuine campaigners to distance themselves from anarchists.

"It would strengthen the hand of those who seek change if some NGOs (non-governmental organisations) would distance themselves from masked stone-throwers who claim to want more transparency, anti-globalisation dot.com types who trot out slogans that are trite, shallow and superficial," Mr Moore said.

"This will not do as a substitute for civilised discourse," he added.

'Open society'

His speech followed increasingly violent street scenes near international political, economic and business meetings over the past five years, the latest at a summit of the 15-nation European Union in Gothenburg last month.

Many anti-globalisation campaigners openly declare that they want to prevent such gatherings taking place, and many say they want to "sink" or destroy the WTO, a body whose decisions are taken by its currently 141 member states.

Mr Moore said such people were enemies of 'open society'.

"Nothing upsets our owners (WTO member states) more than the mindless, undemocratic enemies of the open society who have as a stated aim the prevention of ministers and our leaders from even meeting," Mr Moore told Friday's meeting.

"Imagine the attitude of the (trade) minister from South Africa (Alec Erwin) who was imprisoned during South Africa's struggle for freedom when faced with this attitude on the streets of Seattle," he said.

Code of conduct

Mr Moore said civil society, international institutions and governments should discuss and agree on a code of conduct.

It could include the rejection of violence, and NGO transparency on membership, financing and decision-making rules, he suggested.

Governments, businesses and foundations could then insist on adherence to such a code before providing funding.

Mr Moore said: "Governments and their institutions should in return give those who follow such rules a better stake in the process."

He added however that it was up to governments, and not the WTO, to conduct negotiations of that kind.

The two-day symposium, which began on Friday at WTO headquarters is open to NGO representatives, governments, media and academics.

Mediating role

Mr Moore is a former prime minister of New Zealand and leader of the Labour Party.

His political career got off to a glowing start in 1972 when he became the youngest person ever to be elected an MP in New Zealand.

He has often emphasised his 30 years in the labour movement in his speeches as WTO director general and his official CV mentions his early experience as a printer, meat worker, construction worker, social worker and trade union researcher.

He has stressed his labour movement experience and potential mediating role when questioned about the protests that surrounded the November 1999 Seattle meeting and about US trade union demands for environmental and labour protection clauses to be included in WTO treaties.

But he has failed to impress trade analysts and many have raised questions about his leadership of the WTO, both during the Seattle conference and afterwards.

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