NGOs blocked at last minute from WTO summit in Argentina

By agency reporter
December 1, 2017

The Transnational Institute (TNI) has condemned the last minute decision to block dozens of civil society experts and campaigners from the  World Trade Organisation summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina from 10-13 December 2017. 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Observers from Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America had their approved accreditation withdrawn by the WTO on 29 November 2017. Groups including Global Justice Now, Friends of the Earth International and the Transnational Institute are among those affected. Senior WTO officials said that they did not know the reason for the decision despite several 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 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 scheduled to happen in Buenos Aires.

Fiona Dove, Executive Director of TNI said, “The WTO must include civil society organisations who amplify the voices of the millions of people affected by their policies. The Argentinian government’s actions are utterly tone deaf -- people all over the world are demanding more transparency on international trade and the WTO. This last minute move is arbitrary and unprecedented. It suggests the G20 should reconsider the location of their summit next year, as President Macri has demonstrated his government does not respect democracy or pluralism.”  

* The Transnational Institute is an international research and advocacy institute committed to building a just, democratic and sustainable world.


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