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Published in Brighton by Justice? - Brighton's Direct Action collective
Issue 141, Friday 31st October 1997
Killer Corps to take over the world!
The Museum of Humanity in Paris is a multicultural celebration of social, environmental and labour progression of several millennia. Inside the population clock ticks up three new births a second. It stands at approximately 5,901,884,000. Outside, a giant screen on the Eiffel Tower counts down the days to the millenimum: 791. But there is another date, May 1998, which is will affect each and every one on the planet far more.
Around the corner, behind the closed doors in a basement room of a bunker-like office building, representatives from the richest countries of the world are writing the "constitution of a single global economy" in secrecy and and in haste. The global impact of their work, the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), is almost unimaginable. This agreement is for "the end of history", when the corporations will finally take over the world. The Museum of Humanity, a small notice says, is closing down.
The most important international agreement on investment and trade ever, the MAI, has been negotiated in secret in Paris since September 1995. It will legally bind the richest countries on Earth together for 20 years in a move that will invalidate all international and domestic law regarding environmental, social and labour rights. Countries will not be able to opt out once it is signed.
Multinationals will gain the right to sue national governments for even debating issues which may harm the profit of an investor regardless of domestic law. It will force governments to respond to economic pressures by abolishing worker protections, public safety regulations and measures protecting the environment. Silence on the MAI is deafening in the UK and worldwide.
Details of the plan were leaked and put on the Internet by French activists a year ago and the cause was taken up by global pressure groups. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which include the world's 29 wealthiest countries, meet every six weeks in Paris to plan the MAI. On Monday they allowed 50 people from pressure groups from all continents precisely six hours to listen to their concerns. SchNEWS (alone in the UK press) was there. The NGOs called the discussions "shocking" and "negative". Chairman of the negotiating group, Frans Engering, told SchNEWS after the `consultations' that there could not possibly be any delay in the passage of the MAI, and that "we are entering the last stages."
Globalisation has seen over the last 30 years, the richest 20% of the world's population increase their share of income from 70% to 85%, while the share captured by the poorest 20% has declined from 2.3% to 1.4%
A 600 page document of "reservations" of member countries is not publicly available, but Friends of the Earth received a leaked copy. It reveals that the UK is planning to sign without any reservations for the environmentally or socially-sensitive sectors of the economy. Tony Juniper, Campaigns Director of FOE, says "Labour's blinkered obsession with the free market appears to be absolute."
The real clout in the MAI is the right it gives companies to sue governments for large damages. In what is known as the `pay the polluter' case, the Ethyl Corporation of America is suing the Canadian government for $367 million dollars for banning the use of MMT, a controversial gasoline additive, which it makes in Ottawa. It wants "immediate compensation for imposing legislation which hinders its operations [profit]" under free trade rules identical to the MAI.
SchNEWS went to the OECD library to be told by the assistant: "I've never heard of MAI". There were no published documents available. "Their mania for secrecy is our best strategic clue, " says Chantell Taylor of the US-based Public Citizen Global Trade Watch, " it's time for the Dracula strategy because this is one treaty that could never survive sunshine."
What they said about the MAI"We are writing the constitution of a single global economy"
- Renato Ruggerio, Director General of the World Trade Organisation
"The MAI, if enacted, will allow corporations - the pinnacle of
debauched economic power - to run riot over the face of the Earth,
with greater political right than any sovereign nation."
"We will oppose any and all measures to create or even imply
binding obligations for governments or business related to environment
"MAI is the final consummation of collective colonialism ... the
erosion of national sovereignty would be total"
"The MAI challenges the right of a nation to determine its own
economic, social and ethical development"
Globalise To Mobilise!On 23-25 Feb 1998, 600 representatives from the People's Global Action against Free Trade and the WTO will meet in Geneva for the first conference of a new world-wide co-ordination of resistance against the global market and the MAI. Details: PlayFair Europe!, Turmstr. 3, 52072 Aaachen, Germany. Tel: +49 241 803792 Email: email@example.com
As dawn broke on Tuesday six local activists invaded the Greenwich base of a bizarre millenialist cult, even while it was still under construction. The sect, thought to wield influence over some individuals close to the heart of Government, intends to build its as headquarters a gigantic dome, which would then be made a shrine to all manner of warped corporate deities. The activists scaled a 350-foot crane, preventing it from winching into place the huge masts that are to support the obese structure, and bringing construction work to a shuddering halt. The concerned protesters took action, they say, as to warn the public of the cult's sinister intent, which apparently is to brainwash us all into worshipping their god, Capital, and to spread the sign of the barcode across the world. One of their number, Dave Grumpus, remarked; "Musty old institutions like the government and private industry are intent on creating a pompous monument to the throw-away consumer society in which we now live. We should not accept this billion pound behemoth* as a vision for our future." The most obvious beneficiaries of the dome project are the construction firms involved, but these corporate deadline junkies could yet come unstuck if their building work does not keep to the already tight schedule. As concerned groups were warning citizens to be on their guard against the cult's sick ideology, Tuesday's protest undoubtedly threw a welcome spanner in its works.
* Behemoth (of biblical origin): a monstrous thing - SchNEWS Vocab-watch
Nike and their dreaded `Swooshtika' logo are everywhere in the States. Let's face it, they're bloody everywhere. Thankfully, someone is taking note, and not in terms of buying silly trainers. This week American women's groups turned on the company because while Indonesian women have to work 100-200 hours overtime per month, in order to make ends meet, Philip Knight, Nike's chairman got paid nearly [sterling]1 million in 1994, and must be on far more by now.
(Much of this article was taken from "There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos" by Jim Hightower. A couple of SchNEWS'ers picked this up recently in New York, and although it's published by the Murdoch owned HarperCollins, is a great book.)
Everyone's favourite King - Arthur Pendragon, set off from Stonehenge this week with his band of merry men to walk to London and reclaim his sword Excalibur. Southwark Cops confiscated his weapon, saying it was a dangerous weapon. The King has says that if he gets his sword back, it will equal pulling the sword out of the stone. If successful, he hopes the whole country will celebrate with fireworks. This has nothing to do with the court date being on Nov. 5th.
Keep Hallowe'en clean, you know wha' we mean? Keep it Pagan, keep it mean.
Last updated 17th November 1997
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