globalization, global justice

GATS – the General Agreement on Trade in Services

One of the major threats of globalization is the rapid and often unnecessary push for the privatization and corporate takeover of public services — including education, healthcare, social assistance, environmental, and municipal services — in countries all over the world. Large transnational corporations in the for-profit service industries are working with allied national governments, to establish a set of powerful trade rules that serve their interests – not workers or communities.Eager to pry open the services market internationally, corporations and governments are quietly negotiating a new trade and investment treaty called the GATS – General Agreement on Trade in Services.

For much additional information and resources on GATS, see:

Women Stop GATS!

At the conference "Women Stop GATS!", 9 - 11 May 2003 in Cologne, Germany, more than 400 women learned about the threats to women coming from privatization of services and the WTO's "General Agreement on Trade in Services" (GATS)

Read the full report by Alice Hodgson,

Photos of the conference are on-line (with a long download time):

Papers from the conference:

Maude Barlow:
Women Stop GATS!

..."Now what the GATS does, and what these trade agreements do, is constrain governments in what they are allowed to do. They exist mostly for the purpose of telling governments that they now have to represent their citizens very differently. They have to shrink dramatically, while at the same time giving protection to transnational corporations, particularly. Because these corporations want to move across borders and not bump into different kinds of environmental or health and safety rules. This is what they call a "level playing field."

(from left: Maria Mies, Maude Barlow, Claudia von Werlhof, Vandana Shiva,
Veronika Bennholdt-Thomsen, Christa Wichterich, Bente Madeira)

But they don't want a playing field up here. (Holds hand high.) They want the lowest level possible for a playing field, so they can move around the world and not think in terms of any domestic standards. They don't want domestic standards. And now, most particularly, they want governments to get out of the delivery of social programs, of water, of prisons, of roads, of culture. They want this to be transferred over to a whole new sector...Read full speech

Maude Barlow is Director of the Council of Canadians, Canada's largest citizens' organization, directs the International Forum on Globalization and is author of many books, the latest on the politics of water (with Tony Clarke): Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World's Water

Helena Norberg-Hodge:
Bringing the Food Economy Home

"Today’s mounting social and ecological crises demand responses that are broad, deep, and strategic. Given the widespread destruction wrought by globalisation, it seems clear that the most powerful solutions will involve a fundamental change in direction – towards localising rather than globalising economic activity. In fact, ‘going local’ may be the single most effective thing we can do..."Read full speech

Helena is Director of the International Society for Ecology and Culture, and author of many books and articles on food and cultural politics.

Theresa Wolfwood:
1. GATS, privatization, health and education in Canada. Download full speech
2. Resistance and Alternatives. Download full speech

More papers are on-line here.