From the WTO’s setback at Seattle… to the Conditions for Global Governance

Joseph Rocher, November 2001

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In other languages : Español - français

Summary :

Ever since the WTO Conference in Seattle, there has been growing awareness of globalization issues within civil society, and this awareness has now spread beyond the circle of the best-informed activists. Many, categorically and perhaps a little prematurely, question the legitimacy of the WTO. Hence a profound crisis of confidence, or rather distrust, between civil society and international organizations that, like the WTO, have been trying for years to establish a truly negotiated rule of law that is neither unilateral nor imposed by the most powerful. We have seen attitudes that amount to wiping clean the slate of the past and burying history. A more constructive approach can be imagined, which is to try to find « alternative » solutions and propose to reform whatever is not working, while making sure to strengthen whatever is working in a satisfactory way. Such an approach is demanding: at the very least it entails taking a ruthless « inventory. » Although it is beyond the scope of this paper to draw up such an inventory, it is nonetheless possible to outline some basic thinking and offer proposals on trade and on how the WTO should be reformed and develop.