Date: Thu, 09 Mar 2000 09:51:37 -0700
From: Divwomen <divwomen@ndf.vsnl.net.in


Dear Friends,

We enclose a US - India citizens declaration for a new solidarity and a Citizens Vision Statement for a new Millennium to articulate the India US partnership at the people's level to reverse globalisation. This statement has been prepared jointly by a wide spectrum of Indian movements and trade unions who are organising the Solidarity Convention on 11th March and by the IFG (International Forum on Globalisation) team in Delhi just now for the Convention. The IFG team includes David Korten, Edward Goldmsith, Colin Hines, Debi Barker and Mohd. Idris of Third World Network.

The Declaration and Statement have been written in the context of Clinton's visit to India, when Clinton and Vajyapee will issue their vision statement based on commerce and corporate interest. Please circulate the statement and send your endorsement to us at the earliest so that we can issue the Statement on 11th March. Please remember we are nearly 12 hours ahead, so your endorsement should us by 10th.

On behalf of IFG and Indian Solidarity team.

Sincerely,

Vandana Shiva


UNITED STATES - INDIA CITIZENS' DECLARATION FOR A NEW SOLIDARITY

We, the citizens of the two largest democracies of the world, India and the United States of America, are committed to deepening and defending the democratic rights of citizens guaranteed by our Constitutions.

The democratic rights of citizens both in the North and the South are being undermined as corporate rule is established worldwide through the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the rich G7 countries. This dominant world view puts global trade above all other economic activity, and places the market above society, and profits above people and the environment. Human lives are being rendered dispensable in the ruthless pursuit of limitless market share, profits, and economic growth.

The U.S. government in particular has promoted the globalisation of corporate rule and used its foreign policy and trade laws to colonise the markets of Third World countries for transnational corporations, especially in agriculture, pharmaceuticals, power, information, and communication. There is a growing sense among citizens of diverse countries and cultures that globalisation is corporatisation and that the U.S. Government is using free trade treaties to establish a new global empire in which not only land and markets are colonised by global corporations, but knowledge as well. It is an economy that delinks financial gain from productive contribution. While wages, labor unions, and the prices of basic commodities are suppressed, corporations collect rents on knowledge through the monopolization of intellectual property rights and speculators seek endless profits in the global financial casino by creating and bursting financial bubbles.

North-South inter-governmental relationships are being increasingly re-molded from relationships between sovereign countries into relationships between a global corporate empire and the colonized people of both the geographical South and the geographical North. As citizens of free societies we do not believe that the 21st century and new millenium can be founded on extending the life of colonialism against which the world's freedom movement fought so valiantly. We are committed to continuing the citizens' agenda for democracy laid out on the streets of Seattle to make the global trade subservient to principles and values necessary for the protection of the of the environment, livelihoods and our diverse cultures. We seek to assure the protections that guarantee sustainability, justice and peace are achieved through open and democratic processes within each of our societies--not through imperialistic measures such as U.S. trade sanctions linked to labour and environmental standards set by the WTO as was proposed by President Clinton in Davos in response to the Seattle protests.

The institutions and procedures of democracy are being set aside in both our countries as our government have given up their duty to protect the environment, jobs and livelihoods on the ground that these are barriers to free trade. Since ecological and economic security are foundations of our democratic freedoms and our very survival, defining them as "trade barriers" to be dismantled for the sake of corporate profits reveals the perversity of the globalisation paradigm and the free trade rules set and enforced by the WTO. These rules must change, as must the relationship between the governments of the United States and India.

The sovereign democratic space of peoples is being invaded by the WTO in both the North and the South. This is manifest in the distancing of people from the decision making processes on economic issues both within and between nations. This is a serious threat to the democratic principles embodied in both the Indian and the U.S. constitutions. International trade treaties should not be allowed to undermine our rights as members of democratic societies to participate in economic democracy by having security of livelihoods and the guarantee that our socio-economic needs will be met in accordance with our priorities, cultural preference, and available environmental resources.

Both in India and the United States, our governments have stopped representing the people even though it is the people that elect them to power. The U.S. government has long assumed that what is good for General Motors is good for America. As the U.S. government presses globalization on the world, it seems to assume that what is good for U.S. corporations such as Monsanto and Cargil is good for the United States, India, and the rest of the world.

The interests of global corporations are, however, in deep conflict with the interests of the world's people, who are paying a heavy price in terms of economic insecurity, environmental decay, social disintegration and growing polarisation and inequality. Large numbers of people are being politically and economically excluded by a system that caters only to corporate well-being to the disregard of citizen well-being. Instead of bringing enhanced prosperity to all, as it claims, the WTO has in the five years of its existance concentrated ever more of the world's wealth in the hands of a favored few, further impoverished the majority of the world's people, and contributed to globalizing the environmentally unsustainable patterns of production and consumption of the rich industrialised countries.

The Uruguay Round Agreements have functioned principally to pry open markets for the benefit of transnational corporations at the expense of national economies; workers, farmers and other peoples; and the environment. In addition, the WTO's rules and procedures are undemocratic, non-transparent and non-accountable. We see that economic globalization is increasing global economic instability, inequality and environmental and social degradation everywhere in its wake. Yet the governments of the North that dominate the WTO, especially the United States, have refused to recognize and address these problems. Instead they push for further liberalisation and seek to expand tbe mandate of the WTO by defining "trade related" in ever broader terms. At each step the resulting actions exacerbate the crises that the processes of economic globalisation and the WTO have wrought.

We will no longer allow the protection of our rights and freedoms to be labeled as trade protectionism. Trade ought only to be a means for achieving just and sustainable development for people of the North and South equally rather than perpetrating ever greater inequalities at all levels.

We therefore join in solidarity to put forward the principles of an alternative vision to guide cooperative relations between the peoples of our two countries.

INDIA-U.S. CITIZENS' VISION STATEMENT FOR A NEW MILLENNIUM

Following their meetings March 20 to 25 Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee and U.S. President Clinton are expected to issue a statement setting forth their vision of a new relationship between our two governments. While we agree that a new relationship is long overdue, we are concerned that so long as peoples voices are excluded from their dialogue their vision will reflect the interests of global corporations and financial institutions to the exclusion of those of the people of our two countries. Thus in our capacity as citizens of India and the United States we present here our vision for a new relationship between the peoples based on principles of democracy, equity, partnership, and respect for life.

Furthermore, as citizens of India and the United States we declare our commitment to work with one another and with the citizens of all other nations to replace the institutions of global competition and domination with institutions of global cooperation and partnership. To this end we set for the following principles to guide our relationships in seven areas.

1. Democracy and Governance

We believe that democracy grounded in the sovereignty of the people must be the foundation of all relationships between our two countries. Negotiations between us must therefore be subject to open public debate and agreements subject to open and public review by established democratic processes. As the World Trade Organization (WTO) is a non-democratic and basically illegitmate organization created outside the framework of the United Nations, we do not accept WTO rules or decisions as an appropriate framework for cooperation between our countries.

2. Economy and Commerce

We believe that the interests of all people are best served when each nation is able to meet its own basic needs through its own industry and resources without excessive dependence on the economic resources of others.

We further believe that each community and nation has the right to determine what it will trade with whom and under what conditions. Similarly, each community and nation has the right to decide on what terms, if any, it will invite others to invest in its economy. Such decisions must be made freely and democratically with full and open public debate by the people concerned. We consider trade to be a means, not an end, to be welcomed only when it improves the living standards of all concerned and contributes to ecological sustainability.

3. Science and Technology

We believe that beneficial indigenous and scientific knowledge and technology are the common heritage of all humanity and should be freely and equitably shared accordingly based on mutual respect, reciprocal exchange and recognition of diverse knowledge systems. While it is appropriate to provide incentives for true innovation, the rights to intellectual property must be limited to those necessary to spur innovation and must be subordinated to the larger needs of society. In respect to the sanctity of life patenting of life forms, including genetic sequences, should be prohibited. We recognize potential benefits in molecular biology, but also recognize the need for extreme caution and strict safeguards at both national and international levels and call for a halt to any release of GMOs into food supplies or the environment until reliable public safeguards are in place and any GMO products are clearly labeled to allow informed consumer choice. Further, an international mechanism must be established under the United Nations to review and prohibit all research and production of technologies that present a universal threat to the life of the planet, such as the terminator gene.

4. Energy and Environment

Climatic changes resulting from a fossil fuel intensive economy based on cheap oil is creating increasingly severe environmental disasters around the world. Given the status of the United States as the leading economic and scientific power among Northern countries and India as a leading economic and scientific power among Southern countries we call for an open and equitable partnership between our two countries in leading the way toward converting our economies to a primary reliance on solar energy sources and the use of environmentally friendly renewable materials and technologies. This partnership should give due consideration to the important contributions of indigenous knowledge and technology to achieving sustainability. Because of the growing environmental interdependence of all nations, there is an essential need for international cooperation under the United Nations in setting and enforcing environmental standards. International agreements dealing with trade must necessarily be considered subordinate to international agreements on environmental standards.

5. Education and Culture

We rejoice in the rich cultural diversity of our two countries and in open cultural exchange. At the same time we affirm the right of every people to define and protect their cultural heritage from unwanted intrusions on their cultural integrity from global corporations, advertising, and foreign media. We further believe that education should prepare children to live fully as whole persons both within their own cultures and as citizens of an interdependent world. Education should be the province of public or private nonprofit schools and be free of advertising or other for-profit corporate influence. 

6. Health and Food Security

Secure access to healthful food, a clean environment, and a healthy lifestyle are the foundations of good health. Governments therefore have not only the right, but also the responsibility, to secure such access in the face of often conflicting corporate interests. Food production to meet domestic needs properly takes priority over production for export and domestic producers are properly protected from unfair import competition arising from dumping of subsidised commodities. Furthermore, governments have a responsibility to protect agricultural ands and keep their ownership in domestic hands, encourage natural, diversified agricultural methods that require minimum chemical inputs, maintain maximum biodiversity, and favor small farmers. Governments also have a responsibility to protect their citizens from the advertising and sale of harmful products such as tobacco, and to prohibit the pirating and monopolization of indigenous knowledge through patenting, and to assure the availability of low cost generic drugs.

7. Peace and Demilitarization

We stand firmly opposed to the military expansion plans of both India and the United States and to the corporate promotion of cultures of violence in both our countries through advertising, media programming, and computer games. We believe that any military cooperation between our two countries should center on military demobilization and the transition to peace time economies.

 

AN IMMEDIATE APPEAL TO PRIME MINISTER VAJPAYEE AND PRESIDENT CLINTON

In line with these principles we call for immediate action by Prime Minister Vajpayee and President Clinton on the following issues;

1. Freeze the implementation of TRIPS pending public review and put in place measures to end the piracy of indigenous knowledge and the world's biological heritage by U.S. corporations. 

2. Sign the Protocol on Bio-Safety and implement strong biosafety regulations.

3. End any introduction of GMO seeds and foods into India and phase them out in the United States.

4. End government subsidies for the introduction of E-commerce and assure that E-commerce carries its same rightful share of taxes as any other marketing channel so that small business and local economies are  not undercut by unfair, subsidized competition.

5. End the import of subsidized agricultural commodities into India to the detriment of India's small farmers.

6. End government support for environmentally damaging projects such as the Enron project that the United States forced on India.

7. Assure that all trade between the United States and India contributes to the increased well-being and improved labor, social and environmental rights of people in both countries.

8. Commit to relations of peace rather than relations of militarization.


At the Solidarity Convention of People Against Globalisation, held at New Delhi, India on Saturday 11th March 2000, we come together as citizens of India and the United States in solidarity for the struggles of the peoples of both our countries toward economic democracy. We have met on the eve of the visit of the U.S. President to India, which we fear will further dvance the processes of anti-democratic globalisation, economic and cultural colonisation and militarisation of the Indian sub-continent. As citizens of free societies we will work to create another agenda based on economic democracy, cultural diversity, sustainability, and peace. We will not be divided and we will not allow "divide and rule" policies to subvert the new politics of solidarity on which we will build our free and democratic futures.

Diverse Women for Diversity
A-60 Hauz Khas
New Delhi 110 016
India
Tel: 91 11 656 1868
Fax: 91 11 656 2093


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