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For Immediate Release

Press Release

WTO Talks Legitimacy “Undermined” As Argentina Blocks Civil Society Attendance

WASHINGTON -

Friends of the Earth International, the world's largest grassroots environment network, condemn the unprecedented and undemocratic decision by the Argentine government to revoke the accreditation of two Friends of the Earth experts and much of civil society from attending the upcoming World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Together with a diverse range of trade unions, farmers and consumer rights organisations we call on Argentina’s government to comply with human rights obligations and allow civil society to participate in this international meeting and the right to protest. We call for greater democracy in global trade policy making and, if this decision is not reversed, for WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo to move the meeting.

Friends of the Earth International has been advocating for a fair and sustainable trade agenda for over two decades, yet this is the first time we have been banned from participating in the WTO.

Sam Cossar-Gilbert, spokesperson on trade at Friends of the Earth International, said:

“Trade deals affect people’s everyday lives, from the food we eat to the energy we use, and must not be discussed in secret, behind closed doors. Locking people out of the WTO will only further undermine its legitimacy. We need more public participation in trade policy, not less.”

Alberto Villarreal, spokesperson on trade at Friends of the Earth Latin America and the Caribbean, who has been banned from attending the meeting, said:

“The black lists of President Mauricio Macri’s government in Argentina are worrying, and reveal the true face of his government: neoliberal, corporate and serving one-per-cent of the population. This is a government attempting to silence the voice of civil society.”

Ernst-Christoph Stolper, Friends of the Earth Germany/ BUND Vice President and member of the Executive Committee of Friends of the Earth Europe, has also been banned from attending the meeting. He said:

“The unprecedented move of the Argentinian government challenges international rules of civil society participation in global governance, as well as the authority of the WTO. One day before the G20 presidency is handed over from Germany to Argentina, no-one could imagine a worse signal for shaping international order in a social and ecological manner.”

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Friends of the Earth International is the world's largest grassroots environmental network, uniting 74 national member groups and some 5,000 local activist groups on every continent. With over 2 million members and supporters around the world, FOEI campaigns on today's most urgent environmental and social issues.

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