They’re noisy, disruptive and sometimes cause injury, but the protestors who will gather at the CancZn meeting have little chance of changing anything. Like their predecessors at Seattle and Rome and Geneva and Melbourne, most of them have completely mistaken their targets.
Here’s an example of cockeyed aim from the Friends of the Earth International (“FOEI(link to FOEI website)”:http://www.foei.org/).
“Behind the rhetoric about ‘rules-based trade’, ‘liberalization’ and the ‘Doha Development Round’, the reality is that the WTO’s trade and investment rules are consistently being shaped around the interests of transnational corporations, consolidating their global expansion and removing any remaining obstacles,” says the report ‘_Business rules in the WTO: Who pays the price?_’ released in London Thursday…. “The report compiles a number of very disturbing examples of what has gone wrong, and what can go wrong unless the influence of corporations over the WTO is halted somehow.” _from_ the World”>http://www.wbcsd.org/plugins/DocSearch/details.asp?type=DocDet&DocId=MjE2MQ”>World Business Council for Sustainable Development website
Corporations have no more influence over the WTO than the FOEI does. What the corporations know—and the FOEI doesn’t seem to know—is that the Organization doesn’t make the crucial decisions. All the important choices are made in national capitals. In order to make headway on their issues, NGOs have to stop preening their “global” and “international” credentials; give up the showy rough-house festivals at international meetings, and get down to the much harder business of winning influence with national governments who might be prepared to pursue their causes in WTO. Why haven’t more NGOs done this? The answer seems to be that it’s too hard. Single issue interest groups—including corporations, churches and even environmental lobbies—have a hard time gaining a prominent place for their obsessions on the agenda of national governments. That’s because national governments have a complicated balancing task to manage: defining and pursuing national objectives. To influence this process you have to be ready to compromise.