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Trade Justice Trade can contribute to economic growth and development, just as globalisation of communications can contribute to cultural exchange and enrich lives. But over the last decade international trade agreements have been strengthened in ways that can also have negative impacts on the daily lives of people all over the world. Firstly, trade agreements have been expanded in scope, and have moved from dealing mainly with trade in goods and reduction of tariffs (taxes on imports) to include areas such as trade in services and rules about intellectual property rights. This means that trade law now reaches into many areas of health, cultural and other social policy. Secondly, trade agreements have developed much stronger dispute processes through which governments can challenge the law or policy of other governments, on the grounds that they are barriers to trade. The dispute findings are enforced by strong penalties in the form of trade sanctions. This strengthening of trade law has made it far stronger than international human rights law, which has no enforcement process other than naming and shaming. This broadening and strengthening means that aspects of international trade agreements can undermine social justice goals and human rights as defined in United Nations Conventions which many governments, including the Australian government, have adopted.

Global Week of Action The idea for the Global Week of Action was generated at the International Trade Campaign Conference in Delhi, November 2003 with a call to action for trade justice. During that Conference, graphic pictures emerged of the injustice being experienced by the poor, especially in developing countries. Sarath from Sri Lanka, spoke of how in his country, water sources were about to be privatised, so that even if a village had a well, its inhabitants would still have to pay for their water because the springs from which the well water came had been privatised. This in a country where 80% of the population live on less than $1 a day. The Global Week of Action invites all movements and campaigns active on international trade to take action within their own areas in order to produce a global impact. The aim is to challenge the free trade myth and to put forward alternatives by delivering the biggest global mobilisation ever seen.

The Message is:

  • NO to the rich and powerful imposing unjust trade agreements, indiscriminate liberalisation and privatisation on the poor.
  • YES to everyone’s right to food, a livelihood, water, health and education.

Prayer

Let us pray:

We believe in God the Creator, loving parent of all who live. We believe in Jesus Christ, dying so that all may live. We believe in the Holy Spirit, sanctifier of all life.

God, inspired by your love for us and your Word to us and empowered by your Holy Spirit we resolve, through our words and action to respect and uphold the dignity of every person with whom we share this planet.

May your kingdom come and may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

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