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GUIDE TO WORLD INSTITUTIONS
- and their acronyms

It's not just the IMF and the World Bank...

Call us paranoid, but one of the key weapons used by those at the top against the rest seems to be boredom. They deliberately make their institutions sound so dull no sane person would want to read about them. Just seeing the name Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is enough to send anyone to sleep.

Acronyms are part of this plot. Just think, if asylum seekers renamed themselves TMPs (transnational migratory persons) they might get left alone by Britain's institutionally racist press. Nowadays reading an article on international politics is akin to a trip through the human genome: IMF, TABD, WTO, NAFTA, IBRD, IFC, ERT, TRIPs (okay, that one's funny), UNEP, G-7, ILO, OECD, UNHCR, NATO, OSCE...

It wouldn't be so bad if these bodies and treaties were politically irrelevant - sports societies, perhaps, or flu-like diseases (I'm sorry Mrs Jones, I think youčre coming down with a nasty case of WTO). But unfortunately for anyone interested in the way the world works, they are important. Each has a specific role to play in keeping the march of the global economy onwards. If that isn't incentive enough to read about these organisations just try thinking of the western elite as Mr Garrison and the IMF as Mr Hat. Which makes the folks in Prague the kids from South Park!

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G7/G8 (Group of 7/8)

The G8 is the 'Group of 8' industrialised nations: the USA, Britain, Japan, France, Canada, Italy, Germany and, since the fall of communism, Russia. Given Russia's poor economy, the cabal is often still referred to as the G7. This is where serious discussion and economic policy-making takes place, and its influence spreads throughout all the major international bodies.

WTO (World Trade Organisation)

Now this one's really naughty. The World Trade Organisation's main aim is to eliminate 'barriers to trade'. It might be easier to think of barriers to trade as barriers to profits. These can include decent worker's rights, environmental standards, and human rights concerns. National laws can be overturned if they interfere with a corporation's divine right to make money.

OECD (too long to fit!)

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is 'Diet WTO'. It pushes free trade and economic liberalisation, but lacks enforcement powers. Most of its members are in the rich North, but some lucky industrialised outsiders such as Mexico and South Korea have been invited in. It is most notorious for developing the MAI, which acronym lovers can read about below.

WEF (World Economic Forum)

In their own words the World Economic Forum is 'an independent, impartial, non-profit foundation which acts in the spirit of entrepeneurship in the global public interest to further economic growth and social progress'. Nothing dodgy there, then. They're a network of corporate bosses, top politicians, academics and media moguls exchanging information and formulating policy in the interests of, well, themselves, really, and accountable to no one.

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UN Security Council

The United Nations Security Council is intended to maintain international peace and security. There are five permanent members - the USA, United Kingdom, France, Russia and China. Ten elected members also sit on the Council. They pass resolutions that can be vetoed by any permanent member and ignored by US allies such as Israel. The security council can order military action.

NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation)

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is a military alliance linking Western Europe with the US. A cold war institution, it now provides a living for arms dealers (as new members from Eastern Europe have agreed to increase their military spending). This is useful for the US as an alternative route for action when a UN security council member would otherwise block it, as happened over Kosovo.

OSCE (another silly long one)

Now we're getting obscure. Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. This is essentially NATO (see above) minus the US. NATO-lite - when a less gung-ho approach to military affairs is needed. Rarely used.

MAI (and again)

The Multilateral Agreement on Investments would have given multinational companies supremacy over governments in international law. 'Barriers to trade' could be challenged directly by them, instead of their host nations through the WTO. There were too many shocking aspects to list. Thankfully it was defeated after massive protest.

ICC (International Chamber of Commerce)

The International Chamber of Commerce is little known, but extremely influential. In brief terms, it is a collective lobbying body made up of corporations that are powerful in their own right. Their stamp is all over the policies of the institutions already mentioned, and they even wrote large chunks of the draft MAI.

TABD (Transatlantic Business Dialogue)

Business leaders seem to spend all their time knocking up text for international economic institutions to regurgitate. The Transatlantic Business Dialogue is another forum for this, this time a group of US and European corporate representatives.

ERT (European Round Table)

Business leaders of Europe. The European Round Table of Industrialists write and put forward ideas that become European Union legislation. An example of which was their blueprint for a trans-european road network. This road network is now EU policy.

Taken from 'Financial Crimes', produced by Reclaim the Streets for September 26th and beyond

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