Government must scrap decision to exclude civil society from the WTO Ministerial Conference

The Argentine government has revoked the accreditation of key civil society actors before the World Trade Organization. It attempted to justify this action by admitting it was based on an analysis of organizations’ social networks that aimed to exclude those considered “disruptive.” CELS and other organizations jointly submitted a letter requesting that this decision be rescinded.

Buenos Aires, November 30, 2017

President of Argentina
Mauricio Macri

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship
Ambassador Jorge Marcelo Faurie

Chair of the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference
Ambassador Susana Malcorra

Dear Sirs and Madam,

The undersigned organizations view with concern the Argentine government’s decision to revoke the accreditations of dozens of global civil society organizations enabling their participation in the 11th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference to be held in Buenos Aires on December 10-13. This is the first time in the WTO’s history that a host country takes a measure of this kind, setting a grave precedent in terms of international relations.

This decision leaves Argentina in an extremely awkward position, since it serves to hinder the WTO’s basic rules of operation, which include the participation of accredited civil society organizations in the process.

Among the organizations whose accreditation was revoked are: REBRIP (Brazilian Network for the Integration of Peoples), TNI (Transnational Institute) from the Netherlands, Friends of the Earth International, Siemenpuu from Finland, Fundación Grupo Efecto Positivo, 11.11.11 from Belgium, Derechos Digitales from Chile, the Institute for National and Democracy Studies from Indonesia, People Over Profit from the Philippines, and Global Justice Now! from the United Kingdom, as well as delegates registered by international organizations such as Access Now, UNI Global Union and UNI Americas, Via Campesina, Agencia Latinoamericana de Información, and others that we have yet to learn about. Relevant, too, is the fact that some Argentine organizations and participants were also excluded, such as Instituto del Mundo del Trabajo.

We call upon the government to reverse this utterly unjustified decision. The organizations and experts excluded from the process are prominent researchers, activists and promoters of public debate with long, substantial experience in the field of negotiations and international trade. As a matter of fact, they all successfully met the accreditation requirements of the WTO, which had requested profiles and supporting documentation regarding the accredited organizations.

We see no reason to prevent these organizations from participating in the Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires and we believe that maintaining the ban sets a grave precedent in diplomatic affairs, as well as a regrettable mark that will cast Argentina as being opposed to the principles of openness, transparency and participation fostered up to now.

Without further ado, and while awaiting a positive response that may reverse this regrettable measure, we send our sincere regards,

Fundación Vía libre
Poder Ciudadano
Fundación para el Desarrollo de Políticas Sustentables – FUNDEPS
Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales – CELS
Fundación Laboratorio de Políticas Públicas, LPP
Fundación Huésped
Fundación Conocimiento Abierto
CAREF – Comisión Argentina para Refugiados y Migrantes-
Fundación FEIM
ACIJ – Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia –
Res Non Verba Asociación Civil