Corporate Hospitality at the WTO
By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman
Tired of getting fundraising letters in the mail?
Just imagine how hard it would be to be a corporate CEO. Not only does virtually every
politician come hat in hand seeking a campaign contribution, but you are besieged by a
long line of nonprofit organizations seeking support for their charitable endeavors. Then
your fellow bosses hit you up for contributions to support one or another political
lobbying effort. And now there is a new panhandler that CEOs must handle: the
The latest example: The World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meeting in Seattle, to
be held in late November and early December.
"I know you are on the receiving end of many requests for support from organizations
and events, but the hosting of the WTO Ministerial is truly a unique opportunity,"
wrote Lawrence Clarkson, chair of the fundraising committee of the "WTO Seattle Host
Organization" in a March 15 fundraising appeal to corporate executives. Host
Organization co-chairs are Microsoft's Bill Gates and Phil Condit, CEO of Boeing.
"The Seattle Host Organization is committed to ensuring that the private sector is an
integral part of the events surrounding the Ministerial. We are working very closely with
the USTR [Office of the U.S. Trade Representative] and WTO officials every step of the way
to coordinate schedules and venues to maximize interaction between the officials and the
The corporate-sponsored gathering in Seattle is no groundbreaker, as Susan Kruller, media
and public relations director for the Seattle Host Organization, notes.
When NATO gathered for its fiftieth anniversary blowout in Washington, D.C. earlier this
year, a dozen companies contributed a quarter of a million dollars each to have their CEOs
serve as directors of the NATO Summit's host committee. Others kicked in smaller amounts.
Similar arrangements have been made at a recent G-7 meeting in Denver (presidents and top
officials of a group of the world's most powerful countries meet at the G-7) and a Summit
of the Americas in Miami. At a 1996 National Governors Association conference focused on
issues, each governor was paired with a CEO from their state.
Corporate sponsorships of mega-event host committees are now routinely structured into
event planning by the U.S. government, Kruller says.
In agreeing to host the WTO meeting in the United States, the U.S. government obligated
itself to pick up the incremental costs between holding the meeting in Geneva at the WTO's
headquarters and locating the gathering away from the WTO's home, Kruller says. The U.S.
government turns to the private sector to help defray resulting taxpayer expenses.
The private sector is set to kick in $9.2 million to defray the ministerial's costs.
When the news first broke of the Seattle Host Organization's request for contributions, a
controversy ensued over Clarkson's letter's promise that high donors would be able to
attend a conference at which "the private sector will meet senior U.S. trade
officials to discuss priorities for the upcoming Round." That offer drew a rebuke
from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and the promised meeting was cancelled.
Corporate contributors are not being denied all goodies, however. Those donating at the
Emerald Level, a $250,000 contribution, are entitled to send five guests to the Host
Organization's opening and closing receptions and to an exclusive ministerial dinner. They
can send four guests to private sector conferences the Host Organization is arranging.
They are provided with briefing updates on the ministerial's progress, assistance with
room reservations, media assistance and hospitality service. Their logos are permitted to
appear on the Host Organization's web site and they are given signage and display of
corporate materials. Companies at the Emerald Level are Allied Signal/Honeywell, Deloitte
& Touche, Ford, GM, Microsoft, Nextel, Boeing, US West, plus the State of Washington.
Lesser benefits are conferred on those making less generous donations. The Diamond Level
supporters ($150,000 to $249,999) are Activate.com, UPS and Weyerhaeuser. Platinum Level
supporters ($75,000 to $149,999) are AT&T, Bank of America, Columbia Resource Group,
Eddie Bauer, Expeditors International of WA, Hewlett Packard, Seagram's, Preston Gates
& Ellis and The Production Network. Gold Level supporters ($25,000 to $74,999) include
Caterpillar, IBM, Lucent and U.S. Bancorp.
In addition to an extra opportunity to rub shoulders with policymakers and high-ranking
bureaucrats, what the corporate contributors to the Seattle event and similar events
really get in exchange for their dollars is a sort of hyper-niche image advertising, with
a group of hundreds of policymakers as their target.
In most instances, at least, the corrupting element is not a quid pro quo, but rather
something more profound. Corporate sponsorships at the Seattle trade ministerial and other
meetings are another indicia, another reinforcement, another reminder to the government
officials of their obligations to Big Business. The sponsorships are a corruption of
atmosphere and place.
Happily, the Seattle meeting will include a counterbalancing factor: tens of thousands of
activists who plan to take to the streets to protest the WTO's record of riding roughshod
over consumers, workers, the environment and any non-commercial values. Hopefully this
mass citizens' mobilization will force the trade officials to confront their collective
betrayal of the public trust.
Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter.
Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor. They are
co-authors of Corporate Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy
Hundreds of Buddhist monks and nuns
sneaked into Thailand
Hundreds of Buddhist monks and nuns have illegally sneaked into
Thailand from Burma to seek offerings because of food shortages. Their plight stems from
the Burmese military regime's closure of the frontier October 2 in response to Thailand's
handling of the takeover of Burma's embassy in Bangkok by armed student activists.
China's Parliament Outaws Cults
China's parliament passed a law yesterday outlawing cults, but defiant
members of the banned Falung Gong spiritual movement, its prime target, continued silent
protests in Tiananmen Square.
The law "calls on courts, prosecutors, police and administrative judicial organs to
be on full alert for cult activities and smash them rigorously in accordance with the
law," the official Xinhua news agency said. The law provides the framework for an
even harsher crackdown on Falun Gong, which was officially branded a cult on Thursday.
CCA-URM meet for visioning process
The new executive secretary of CCA-URM, Rev. Yosef Widyatmadja, saw the
need to start a URM visioning process for the 21st century through a meeting under the
theme "From Crisis to Kairos: CCA-URM Beyond 2000". Representatives of some
national URM groups from Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, India, Korea, Japan and Hong
Kong, new staff and previous executive secretaries of CCA-URM were invited to assess the
work of URM in the past and to draw a vision, new strategies and programs for URM.
The 3-day meeting reaffirmed URM's commitment towards working with the poor at the
grassroot levels in dealing with the effects of globalisation. Some of the priority
concerns of URM expressed in the meeting include ethnic and religious conflict in Asia,
impact of foreign debt and strategies for building self-reliance, impact of globalization,
information revolution and liberal trade, growing militarism, destruction of the
Open Letter to Chuan Leekpai
Working groups for Women's Human Rights in Asia wrote an open letter to
Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai of Thailand to to support the government's decision to send
1500 Thai soldiers to be affiliated with International forces in East Timor (INTERFET).
The letter also expressed the Working Groups for Women's Human Rights called on the UN to:
* adopt a 'Code of Conduct', for the UN international force in East Timor.
Experiences from Cambodia suggest the increase in trafficking in women, sexual
exploitation and violence against local women and children since the work of UN
peacekeeping forces. In order to avoid the repetition of this kind of exploitation, we
urge the adoption of the Code of
Conduct for the Interfet forces.
* allocate financial support for the immediate assistance, such as recovery program for
the victim of violence in East Timor, especially to women and children, by sending trained
staff from government and private organisations. The women organisations listed below are
ready and willing to join the humanitarian projects.
* support the recommendation from UN Human Rights High Commissioner to establish an
international inquiry into human rights violation in East Timor, especially violence
against women and children to punish offenders in war crimes.
Central Committee of BAFLF meets
An extended meeting of the central committee of Bangladesh Agricultural
Farm Labour Federation (BAFLF) was held on 18th October, 99 where 135 representatives of
110 basic unions all over the
country side participated. The meeting unanimously decided to go on militant campaign from
November, 99 to demand that the government respond to their 11-point demand that was
submitted to the relevant authorities two years ago. The lengthy process under
bureaucratic practice have caused caused serious financial problems and sufferings to the
workers. The following programmes have been proposed.
1) 15th November - Demonstration and submission of Memorandum to the respective Distric
2) 16th November - Blockade the Farm
3) 17th November - Blockade the Roads and High ways (9 am to 12 noon)
4) 18 & 19th November - 48 hours strike all over the country.
A. Indigenous Communities
Development, Equity and Justice: Adivasi Communities in India in the Era of
Liberalization and Globalization, (1999), Report of a roundtable jointly
organized by Minority Rights Group (MRG) and Centre for Social Knowledge and Action
The report contains summaries of the papers presented at the roundtable and highlights of
the discussion. The roundtable focused attention on the following issues.
1. Displacement of Adivasis from land and livelihood
2. Economic Marginalisation of Labor and Livelihood
3. Decline of Food Security
4. Deteriorating Social Ecology
5. Increasing Marginalisation of Women
6. Increasing Threats to Adivasi Culture and Traditions
7. Decrease in Access to Education and Health Care
(Copies of the report can be obtained from: Setu, 1, Punyashlok, Near Liberty Bus stop,
Navarangpura, Ahmedabad, 380 009, India e.mail: email@example.com
or MRG International, 379 Brixton Road Lodon SW9 7DE UK, e.mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or DAGA
Aboriginal Heroes of the Resistance; From Pemulwuy to Mabo
Paul W. Newbury (editor)
Published by Action for World Development
8/8-24 Kippax Street, Surry Hills 2010
Price per copy: AUD$19.95, (Plus postage AUD$3.00)
Aboriginal Heroes of the Resistance. From Pemulwuy to Mabo edited by its principal
contributor, Paul Newbury, commences with stories from around Australia of Aboriginal
resistance to invasion and dispossession. The stories of Pemulwuy, Windradyne, Yagan,
Janmdamurra, the Kalkdoons and Tasmanian Aboriginal heroes explode the myth of
"peaceful settlement" of Australia.
The continuing resistance by Aboriginal people to domination and control is mapped out as
Paul bears witness to the extraordinary campaigns by William Barak and the Coranderrk
Community. The struggles are many. The Aboriginal sesquicentenary protesters, the Pindan
Mob, the Gurindji, the Yirrakala, the Noonkanbah community and the setting up of the Tent
Embassy, the Aboriginal Flag. Then the 1988 March for Justice, Freedom and Hope, the Royal
commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, the Native Title claim of Eddie (Koiki) Mabo
and the Meriam People and the struggles of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
to establish their own organizations.
The book concludes with respectful and moving tributes to four aboriginal heroes who words
and deeds continue to inspire, challenge and bring richness to the non Aboriginal worlds
of the books contributors.
Das, Bhagwan. (1999). 'Dalit Discrimination and Empowerment', in
Connect to the Flight Against Discrimination and Racism, Vol. 3, No.3, International
Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism' Tokyo.
In this article Bhagwan Das argues that even institutionalized forms of discrimination can
be eliminated. He calls for a united struggle.
B. World Bank, IMF and Global Debt
'Communication and Debt' Key issues in Global Communication,
World Association for Christian Communication, 1999.
At first glance there does not seem to be anything in common between debt and
Communication. The authors of this article argue that communication has a place in
deciphering 'Third World Debt, Structural Adjustment Policies, the Balance of Payment
Crisis, and their accompanying perpetuators consisting of the IMF, World Band and World
(For a copy of the article you my get in touch with World Association for Christian
Communication 357 Kennington Lane, London, SE11 5QY, UK web: www.wacc.org.uk or DAGA)
Bello, Walden. Still No Protection Against Capital Speculators
A critical discussion on what some people call 'real economic recovery' in Asia but
regarded by others as the return of the 'Electronic Herd', as described by New York Times
columnist Thomas Friedman. Bello examines the irresponsible never-ending move by
Washington to push for opening up trade and financial markets with little challenge from
Europe and Japan. With no protection the future looks gloomy.
(Article was received at DAGA from Third World Network Features. Copies may be had from
Third World Network Secretariat, 228 Macalister Road, 10400 Penang, Malaysia. For more
details see their homepage at http://www.twnside.org.sg
or from DAGA.
Woodward, David. (1999). Fatal Flaws in the IMF's Prescription,
CIIR News Sept.
Recent world-wide financial crises have made it clear that the global financial system is
unable to deal with the effects on national economies of globalization. In this new CIIR
briefing, the author proposes a radical new solution that would enable currencies to be
automatically and immediately defended.
(A copy may be obtained from CIIR on request by e.mail email@example.com
or from DAGA.)
BURMA: TIME FOR U.N. ENGAGEMENT
(A REPORT TO 54TH SESSION OF UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY)
by Dr U Ne Oo Adelaide, Australia
I. Burma in the Year 1998-1999
II. Intransigence of Military Leadership
- Forced Labour
- Refugees and Internally displaced people
- Repression of Political Dissidents
- Questions on the Transition to Democracy
III. The Burmese military leaders' complicity in the drug-trade
IV. Assessment on New Initiatives
- United Nations `Dollar-for-Democracy' deals
- Creation of a National Human Rights Commission
- Recommendation to the 54th Session of UNGA
- Recommendation to UN Security Council
(A copy may be obtained on request from DAGA.)
D. North KOREA
Essay by Kim Myong Chol
2. Difference between 1994 and 1999
3. Diplomatic Nod Is American Obligation under Geneva Accord
4. DPRK Is De-facto ICBM Power; Nonnegotiable Missile Program
5. Dismantling the Cold War Structure in Korea
This is the fifth in a series of articles on the recent developments in US-DPRK relations.
This essay was contributed by Kim Myong Chol, Executive Director, the Center for
Korean-American Peace, Tokyo, and the former editor of People's Korea.
Kim argues that for the US to truly improve relations with the DPRK, it should abandon its
long-standing support for the ROK. He maintains that the only alternatives to full
normalization of relations with the DPRK are war or a nuclear arms race.
(A copy may be obtained on request from DAGA.)