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AFA and AsiaDHRRA WTO 2005 Campaign

AFA and AsiaDHRRA WTO 2005 Campaign Towards Responsive MDGs and Fairer Agricultural Trade


The next WTO Ministerial Conference (MC) will be held in Hongkong this December 2005. This is the first time that a WTO MC will be held in Asia. Agriculture trade liberalization and its full modalities are one of the top agenda. Clearly, this event can be maximized so as to make our – the small farmers and rural development workers – voices heard, to advocate/influence and advance our causes.

Already, civil society advocacy groups are gearing up to influence the outcome of the WTO MC, according to their own frameworks and positions. The Hongkong People’s Alliance Against WTO (HKPAAWTO) is just one of the groups coordinating hundreds of civil society groups bent to make actions before and during the Ministerial Conference.

For both AsiaDHRRA and AFA, we hope to see fairer and more just global trade rules that benefit the small farmers, fishers and rural women in developing countries. We would like our governments to push for the elimination of trade- distorting subsidies by developed countries, and decide not to privatize basic services such as water. Instead, we like our governments to mainstream sustainable agriculture, including agrarian reform, both in their policies and programs. But we know that to be able to influence the governments strongly, we must have credible, capable, well-informed farmers groups and NGO leaders able to articulate issues and demands.

Realizing this, we , in AsiaDHRRA and AFA, have started our WTO campaign last year with two fora on the Rice Industry as it is affected by liberalization (February and August, 2004 ) , a civil society consultation on WTO and a civil society-government dialogue on WTO (both in March 2005), all at the regional levels. Our members in the Philippines, South Korea, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam have initiated dialogues with their governments on WTO positions (October-November 2004). Also, our members have participated in the Asian Civil Society Forum (November 2004), facilitating a break-out session on Millennium Development Goals and Farmers. Likewise, we have produced issue papers on GATT-WTO-AoA, Rice Situation in Asia and The UN MDGs (please see copies of issue papers, herein attached). As of this writing these issue papers were being translated into seven different Asian languages.

However, our activities last year have to be expanded in terms of coverage and depth. We would like to popularize the issues on WTO to the farming communities we work with. We would like our farmer leaders to be more articulate and capable of negotiating with their governments. We would like to propose concrete alternatives to economic globalization.


In the line of the expose-oppose-propose framework of advocacy, this campaign, at the long-term, will (i) broaden farmers’ understanding on how WTO policies result to more hunger and poverty (ii) increase the farmers’ articulation of its comments / critique and proposals on WTO trade rules and (iii) build the initiatives of AFA and AsiaDHRRA in building sustainable models that promote the food sovereignty principle. The campaign will seek to reach farmers down to the village levels.

The campaign, at the long term, will have the following major components: (i) massive information dissemination to farmers; (ii) capacity building; (iii) policy advocacy; (iv) direct actions; (v) building of alternatives and models on food sovereignty; and (vi) networking and solidarity building.

For the year 2005, this campaign can be seen as a support to the Global Call for Action against Poverty (GCAP) movement and the Trade Justice campaign. A signature cum group photo campaign will be conducted. Through a massive information campaign, farmer-participants will be asked to sign a written statement (this can be a big banner with the main call or a 1-paged statement in paper) wear a white band, and have their group picture taken. The pictures and the statement will be posted in the AFA and AsiaDHRRA websites. The signed statement will be given to the government WTO negotiators and the WTO negotiators from the rich countries, particularly the United States, Japan and European Union.


This campaign will directly involve members and partners of Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA) and Asian Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Asia (AsiaDHRRA ) and Asian Partnership for Human Development (APHD) in the countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, SKorea, Taiwan, Japan.


At the end of the one year campaign, we would like to have achieved the following:

1. To increase the awareness of Asian farmers and NGO leaders about (i) the developments in the WTO round of talks (the July framework) leading to Dec 2005 WTO Ministerial Meeting in Hongkong.
2. to engage the government trade negotiators in firming up governmental positions to WTO
3. to increase the capacities of Asian farmer leaders in advocating for AFA’s and AsiaDHRRA’s advocacy positions concerning WTO
4. to establish cooperation between like-minded trade negotiators and civil society leaders, both at the national and regional levels, and strategize how best to approach trade talks such that small farmers in developing countries can be better protected
5. to forge solidarity with international farmers and civil society groups who have made the same calls and demands


Members of AFA and AsiaDHRRA have agreed that the following positions should be demanded to government WTO trade negotiators and to leaders of WTO:

1. formulate policies that will protect the small farmers and minimize debilitating effects of WTO agricultural policies
2. work for the elimination for trade distorting domestic support measures and export subsidies of highly developed countries
3. calibrate market access and tariff reforms in consideration of the people’s agricultural conditions
4. Ensure that our country has meaningful access to special products (SPs) we have selected on grounds of food and livelihood security and rural development. The principle of SPs should be an integral part of new and subsequent rounds of negotiations.
5. ensure that our country has access to a special safeguard mechanism which is: easy to implement, automatically triggered (both in terms of price and volumes), open to all agricultural products and under which both duties and quantitative restrictions could apply
6. Refuse liberalization of basic services such as water, electricity under the GATS.
7. Refuse liberalization of fisheries sector under the Non-Agriculture Market Access (NAMA).
8. protect farmers’ rights to control seeds
9. ensure participation of civil society leaders in task forces and committees engaged by governments in trade policy formulation and reviews


AFA and AsiaDHRRA members will intensify efforts to influence the decisions of the WTO agricultural trade negotiators in their own countries. In solidarity with other international groups, we will contribute to advocacy efforts addressed to WTO world leaders.


1. Expand Information and Education Campaign (IEC) to farmers through a signature and group photo campaign
2. Strengthen the capacities of AFA and AsiaDHRRA leaders on policy advocacy and campaign management
3. Intensify lobby work with country WTO agricultural trade negotiators
4. Direct Action
5. Building of Alternatives
6. Networking and Linkaging


In-Country Activities : ( July- October) Member countries of AFA and AsiaDHRRA, except for Laos since it is not yet a member of WTO, are committed to do the following :

1. Area consultations

a. Dates: The area consultations will be conducted within the months of July-October.
b. Participants: The consultations will be conducted at the provincial or town levels, with a minimum of 300 participants for all consultations. Participants should be leaders of the organization at the town or village level.
c. Outputs: Main outputs of the area consultations will be a (i) banner and (ii) a group photo of participants wearing armbands ( messages can include “ end poverty now!” “Just and fair trade!” The achievement of the outputs will be very important. All AFa members will bring to Hongkong all the banners they have produced during the information campaign. In Hongkong, AFA leaders will stitch them together; these will form our mural in Hongkong, or even our banner which we can bring when we join marches/rallies. The group photo will be uploaded in our website and will be included in a publication about our WTO 2005 campaign activities.
d. Conduct: AFA leadership in each country will conduct one-day consultation/fora at the provincial/district or town level. The topic of the consultation will be the orientation on WTO, effects of WTO on the agricultural sector, our demands and our proposals. During these consultations/for a, AFA/AsiaDHRRA issue papers, posters and leaflets, as translated by each country, can be distributed to the participants.

On the banner- After each consultation, the participants will write on a banner the group’s message for WTO ministers. The banner’s material will be a sack made of organic material ( thus, not plastic). English translation of the message will be written in the banner. AFA members’ delegates to Hongkong will bring all these banners to Hongkong.

on the group photo – After each consultation, the participants will take a picture of themselves, with the banner, and showing their white armbands

2. Signature campaign ( July- October 2005)

Each AFA member will gather at least 5,000 signatures from farmers for a petition paper ( see sample attached). The signatures can be gathered by the participants who attended the area level consultations.

The original signatures will be sent to the head of government (President or Prime Minister). Duplicate copies will be sent to the head of agricultural WTO negotiations and AFA/AsiaDHRRA Secretariat. The latter will compile a list of signatories, and will email this list to agricultural trade negotiators of G33 and G8 members.

3. Engagement with government WTO negotiators – AsiaDHRRA members in each country will convene country consultations with civil society and dialogue with government WTO negotiators. During the initial dialogue, the parties will level off on perspectives and position. Expected result of this dialogue will be better understanding between the two parties on positions being taken and identification of avenues or mechanisms whereby civil society groups can be involved in formulating the final positions of government in the trade talks. In the succeeding dialogues, the parties will discuss and debate with the government with regards the latters’ positions on WTO and the assessment of the Millennium Development Goal report. We will do this, if possible, with other groups who share the same advocacy positions. We may also join government’s WTO strategy teams, should their governments share similar positions and proposals

4. Commemoration of death of Lee Kyung Hae – Each AFA member will conduct a simple activity on September 8 to commemorate the death of farmer-leader Lee Kyung Hae, former Chairperson of Korean Advanced Farmers’ Federation (KAFF) who went on hunger strike in Cancun and who later stabbed himself to death to protest WTO, which he said, and “WTO kills farmers”. The activity is culturally-specific to a country – can be a vigil, a mass, a prayer, or others. This activity can be done with other farmer groups in the country.

5. Printing and distribution of WFD posters– Each AFA member will distribute and post posters on World Food Day (WFD) posters in strategic places in the capital city.

6. Translation, printing and distribution of leaflets– These leaflets can be distributed during area consultations and signature campaign.

7. Regular action-reflection-action at the country level- Each member of the core group of advocates will be encouraged to share their experiences and learnings to every one in the group through electronic communication.
8. World Food Day celebration – Each AFA member will commemorate World Food Day on October 16. We can join bigger mobilizations in our own countries or stage our own, if there is none. The WFD message will primarily focus on keeping the commitments to the MDGS and making agricultural global trade fair and just. While the actions are done per country, these actions will be coordinated at the regional level.

9. Country level alliances – AFA and AsiaDHRRA members in each country will be encouraged to join national alliances and coalitions working on WTO and MDG issues.

Regional activities

1. conduct of training on advocacy and campaign management (October ) A pool , or core group of advocates, consisting of two farmer leaders and two NGO leaders in each country, will be formed. They will be trained as leaders who can confidently speak about issues on WTOs and Millennium Project. Because of this, they will act as lead lobbyists for MDG and WTO concerns in their own countries. They will also become spokespersons for their organizations on these issues.

2. Civil Society Consultation Workshop (October) – A consultation workshop among civil society participants will be held to discuss results of the previous activities. Expected result of this workshop is a plan on (i) civil society advocacy at the regional level on upcoming WTO ministerial meeting ; and (ii) how to carry out the dialogue with trade negotiators at the regional level
3. Dialogue with Trade Negotiators, Regional Level – A dialogue between selected government trade negotiators and key civil representatives will be held at the regional level. This dialogue is expected to result in formulating processes and strategies on how civil society groups and government negotiators can work together at the regional level so that developing countries can have a stronger voice as one group in the WTO talks (much like G21 in Cancun, Mexico).

4. Activities during the WTO MC in Hongkong
a. Forum on Alternatives to Economic Globalization- We do not only expose and oppose unjust policies and programs, we would like also to propose alternatives. We would like to start studying alternatives to the current economic globalization. We will start this year by mapping these alternative models. We would like to identify current models being adapted and try to get the learnings of the implementers in doing these models. A data base will be provided in the website. A conference discussing these various alternative models will be conducted, during the ministerial meeting in Hongkong, as a parallel activity

b. Participation in Common mobilizations – Working with the Hongkong People’s Alliance against WTO (HKPA), we will join the common mobilizations, scheduled on Dec. 12, 13, 16 and 18.

c. Small but dramatic actions – We like to stage but small but dramatic, media-catching direct actions during the Ministerial meeting; the concrete form will be discussed during the Executive Committee meetings of AFA and AsiaDHRRA.

Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful?

Environmental activists, religious organizations, public interest groups, professional associations and other scientists and government officials have all raised concerns about GM foods, and criticized agribusiness for pursuing profit without concern for potential hazards, and the government for failing to exercise adequate regulatory oversight. It seems that everyone has a strong opinion about GM foods. Even the Vatican19 and the Prince of Wales20 have expressed their opinions. Most concerns about GM foods fall into three categories: environmental hazards, human health risks, and economic concerns.

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