Notes from the PGA Meeting

Greetings to all!

Bangalore was the host of two very important meetings recently. First was the G-15 sunnit of the commerce ministers on a common strategy for the Seattle round. On the other end of the political spectrum, was the People for Global Action Conference calling on all developing countries to quit the WTO.

1. Manifesto

A. Specific additions

It was agreed that the following text be part of the PGA's principles. It was unclear where exactly it should be inserted.

The PGA is an instrument of coordination, not an organisation.

Contents of this summary:

  1. Manifesto
    1. Specific additions
    2. Non specific additions
    3. Future changes to the Manifesto
  2. Operation of PGA
    1. New Convenors
    2. Contact addresses
    3. Role of Convenors
    4. Communication
    5. Next meeting
  3. Specific Actions
    1. Endorsements
    2. N30
  4. Other
    1. Volunteers
    2. Pamphlet
    3. Website
    4. Suggestions for the Manifesto

Its main objectives are

  1. Inspiring the greatest number of persons, movements, and organisation to act against corporate domination through non-violent civil disobedience and people oriented constructive actions
  2. Offering an instrument for co-ordination and mutual support at global level for those resisting corporate rule and the capitalistic development paradigm
  3. Giving more international projection to the struggles against economic liberalisation and global capitalism

The following text was approved to be inserted as the PGA's Second Hallmark. This does not over-write the existing second hallmark; existing hallmarks 2, 3, and 4, now become hallmarks 3, 4, and 5 respectively: Hallmark 2: We reject all forms and systems of domination and discrimination including, but not limited to, patriarchy, racism and religious fundamentalism of all creeds. We embrace the full dignity of all human beings.

B: Non specific additions

It was agreed that a statement to the following effect be inserted at an unspecified point in the manifesto:

"PGA demands the universalisation of primary education in every country for all the children of the world."

The following proposal was blocked. "To include in the manifesto a clear statement on the illegality of the World Trade Organisation, in the sense that the signatory state citizens never gave their consent, and they were not aware of the ramifications of membership of the WTO, as a basic statement which is coming up now and then, for those people who see the manifesto for the first time, it is necessary to mention that 99% of the people never knew what this meant."

It was agreed that, at some unspecified point in the manifesto, a paragraph be inserted rejecting anti-Semitism.

No consensus was reached over the proposal to insert, at some unspecified point in the manifesto, paragraphs rejecting state bureaucracy and Stalinism, and paragraphs calling for the protection of artisans.

C. Future changes to the manifesto.

It was agreed that the whole manifesto has to be reviewed in the light of the adoption of Option 2 in Libia and Sergio's paper. This will happen in a process guided by the convenors. It was agreed that, in cases where the convenors had little or no experience of specific areas, other representatives would be invited to share their expertise.

It was agreed that a small group (membership unspecified) should look at the manifesto with a view to suggesting changes to make it more gender-sensitive.

2. Operation of the PGA

A. New Convenors

  • North America - Pennsylvania Consumer Action Network, USA (interim)
  • Latin America - Processo de Comunidades Negras, Colombia (interim)
  • W. Europe - Ya Basta!, Italy
  • Asia Pacific - Foundation for Independent Aotearoa, Aotearoa (New Zealand), (interim)
  • S. Asia - Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform, Sri Lanka

B. Contact Addresses

The PGA's constitution stipulates that the secretariat changes location every year. Consensus was reached that the official secretariat postal address will be c/o CUPW/ Canadian Union of Postal Workers 377 Bank Street, Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA. The email address of the secretariat remains agpweb (AT)

C. Role of Convenors

It was suggested that the convenors report every three months to each other. There was concern that the report not be spread too widely. Three months is an upper limit - each convenor in its region should decide to which movements they will send the report. It was suggested that the report be sent to every member who went to the first and second conferences, to increase transparency. The proposal was thus put forward - Convenors will report every three months, and will circulate the report at their discretion, as well as making public other appropriate information.

This was passed, on the understanding that it could only be a recommendation, and not a binding resolution, since the number of participants in the debate was relatively low.

D. Communication

It was agreed that there be both a regionally decentralised network of communications, with regional information 'hubs' located with the convenors, together with a central clearing house for information - the PGA website. The website would be at the disposal of the convenors, putting up any and all information requested by the convenors (without editing) and would also proactively seek information on struggles, to feed to the regional information centres.

The regional information centres would

  1. facilitate decentralised communication within the region, perhaps by preparing regional bulletins, or organising regional press conferences.
  2. Prepare material for the global PGA bulletin to be circulated to all other regions.

This approach, it was felt, would combine both 'top down' and 'bottom up' approaches, while leaving editorial power, discretion and responsibility firmly in the hands of convenors.

The central website team would support the convenors by

  1. compiling, without editing, the submissions from the regional convenors to form a bulletin. The frequency of this bulletin was debated - suggestions ranged from a monthly bulletin to a short leaflet every three months. It was agreed that the frequency of output should be the result of the working process,
  2. develop tools, that could be used in communicating information about a variety of struggles.
  3. Facilitate discussion of longer term strategy
  4. Engage in press work by maintaining a public list of world wide progressive media to whom information might be sent directly.

E. Next conference.

It was proposed that the next conference will be in Latin America, preceded by a regional conference involving 80 organisations (including a few non-Latin American organisations) in Nicaragua. The next World conference will be announced in March. This was approved.

3. Actions

A. Endorsements

The PGA endorsed the following actions from North America.

  • Art and Revolution's education tour,
  • Tribunal against corporations for crimes against humanity
  • SalAMI!'s conference on direct action.

The plenary agreed that a message of support for the struggle of Movimiento Sem Terra could be sent using the names of the entire conference. [This has since been printed and sent.]

B. N30

The plenary also acknowledged that 30th November 1999 be a day of global action.

4. Other

The following issues were also raised in plenary, and they have separate documents accompanying them.

A. Volunteers

Several people volunteered to facilitate different aspects of the running of the PGA. Full details in the message entitled 'Volunteers/ voluntarios'

B. Pamphlet

It was suggested that the PGA could benefit from a pamphlet, to be printed and distributed in large numbers. A friend from the floor suggested some wording. This is in the section entitled 'Pamphlet'.

C. Website discussion

Some suggestions were made regarding the structure and functioning of the PGA website. This discussion will follow in a message entitled 'website'.

D. Suggestions for the manifesto

A friend made extensive suggestions for revisions to the manifesto. It was agreed that these revisions be considered by the convenors as part of their broader deliberations over the manifesto, and integrated into a final revision to be presented at the next conference. These suggestions are in the section entitled 'manifesto suggestions'



"Where are our dreams and aspirations of a just and peaceful society where our dignity and diverse ways of life are respected?

Are we more in control of our lives and our communities? How much control of we have over discussions that affect us?

Let us look at some processes around us.

At no time in history have so few institutions dominated so many of us. The top 15 corporations have assets greater than 120 countries. Corporations control 70% of world trade. Our governments have little or no control over these institutions.

This increasingly centralized economic power has also led to the creation of organizations like the WTO which is a legal vehicle for their policies and which is now endorsed by almost all our governments.

More countries are deeper in debt than at any time in history. The third world pays more to the first world in debt than at any time in history. The third world pays more to the first world in debt service and resource transfers than all the aid and assistance it receives

While continuing to promise prosperity for all , the present phase of capitalism is creating more victims, more ecological destruction, and more vulnerability than ever before. Wealth and power is now concentrated in fewer hands than ever before. In the past 30 years the rich have doubled their assets while the poor are in greater economic misery. The poorest 20% have less than 4% of the world's resources, while the richest control 60% of assets.

More and more of the complex web of life on the planet which is the source of subsistence and cultural pluralism of a majority of us, is being commodified, looted, privatized, patented and irreversibly transformed.

Rather than widen the sphere of peace, there are more guns in private hands, more destructive potential with today's armies, more stockpiles of nuclear and conventional weapons than ever before. Much of this is to defend the rights of dominant economic actors.

Modernity, development and political independence was meant to bring diverse groups closer together. Yet at no time in the past fifty years has increasing economic and cultural vulnerability, cause largely by economic globalization, created so much conflict and violence.

The PGA has for the past 2 years embarked on a major effort to confront economic and political processes which have increased vulnerability, dependence and insecurity. In our homes and fields and factories and workplaces, we need to challenge undemocratic and unaccountable institutions and processes. PGA has provided a unique forum to share common experiences about how the new and the old face capitalism is threatening social, cultural and economic security. It has also given us hope, that if we are united, the collective struggle for dignity and justice cannot be subverted, manipulated or crushed.

Let us pledge ourselves to collectively struggle against the forces of exclusion, discrimination, displacement and impoverishment. Let us pledge ourselves to lift the veil of deception that covers the face of dominant economic institutions like the WTO, IMF, World Bank and TNCs. Let us pledge ourselves to unite together to spread the truth about these institutions and the processes that they support and our strategies to counter them, and to define alternatives. Let us pledge ourselves to realize our dreams of dignity, diversity and democracy. Let this statement reach every survivor of globalization."


It was agreed in the plenary that the manifesto be revised (by unspecified parties) to

  • Revise the manifesto in the light of the gender considerations
  • Revise the manifesto to bring it in to line with a new focus not only on the WTO but on broader struggles against liberalisation.

Other proposals, for specific changes in wording were also brought before the plenary. These include small changes, as well as the following substantial additions to the manifesto.

[To be placed at the head of the manifesto]


PGA celebrates life and the continuation of life on earth. PGA celebrates the myriad diversities of nature that support life; and it celebrates the traditions which teach us how to live in harmony with nature. PGA celebrates the plurality of human culture including the pluralities of skin-colour, language, dress and architecture. PGA celebrates the radical aspirations of the peoples in all countries for a society based on equality. PGA upholds equality as the supreme value.

It is from the above point of view that PGA enumerates the main obstacles to human progress, and PGA also lays down the princples of reconstructing human society.

[next section to be placed after the second paragraph or another suiteable place - if necessary it can be split and put in two separate places.]

More than three hundred years of global capitalism has divided humanity into two economic hemispheres North and South. One is characterised by artificial and unsustainable prosperity, the other is characterised by forcible deprivation and dependence. It is only partially true that there is a north in the souh, an a south in the norht. But the situations are so different that the marginalised individuals of the north resemble the upper middle class of the south. And two different sets of mental attidues have developed in the two parts of the world. Even the good men of the south are imitative and surrer from an inferiority complex which turns into xenophobia at the slightest provocation. These counterart in the north are paternalistic in their attitude and advise the south to make use of the same tools for covercoming the present state of deprivation. They take for granted that the prosperity of the north is permanent and the south can approximate it by followign their model.

The members of PGA reject both thses attitudes. They realise that the prosperity of the North can be sustained only by continuing and deepening the deprivations of the South. It cannot continue if the peoples of the South become assertive and decide to pursue an autonomous path of development on the basis self-reliance without begging for ultra modern technologies from the multi-national companies. This will give rise to an entirely new mode of development and a new definition of prospoerity. The new idea of prosperity will be devoid of luxury, consumerism and wastage. At the same time, it will eliminate the cramping effects of subsistence living.

The bond between North and South will be forged beither by paternalism, nor by imitation nor because of the existence of a South in the north. The bond arises out of deep dissatisfaction with the state of things in the world as a whole, the hollowness of lide both in the north and the south. The passion for changing the human life binds the rebels of the north with the radicals of the south.

[The following can be put after the paragraph on agriculture or any other suitable place.]

Agriculture and Farmers

Around more than halk of the people in the developing countries are traditional cultivators, fishermen and the like. Their control over the natural resources have been endangered by the processes of green revolution. The WTO regime is clearing the way for evicting millions of small farmers in order to transfer that control to the hands of the multinationals. It is being expedited by promoting modernisation and mechanisation of agriculture in such a way that small farmers will be compelled to leave or sell out their land, but will be unable to find livelihood in any other way. Particularly in south Asia, a large chunk of the rural population is on their way to pauperisation. Those who want to prevent this catastrophe will have to campaign for the following principles.

  1. Ownership of agricultural land must belong to either to the community or to small peasants who use indigenous and law cost technology. Communal ownership will be viable only in egalitarian communities which are still existing in some places.
  2. National farming methods must be given priority so that agriculutre in these countries is free from the control of multinationals
  3. Countries with favourable conditions must stick to the goals of self-sufficiency in basic food crops rejecting the WTO pressure for food imports from developed countries. Disparity in the prices of traditional crops and the so-called cash crops and exportanble crops hasto be checked because this disparity is discourabing food production in poor countries.
  4. The bulk of immigration and power generation must take place in a decentralised manner, taking recourse to small dmas and traditional methods for irrigation, and non-conventional small scale techniques for power generation.
  5. Wherever the villages exist as socio-economic units, these should be preserved and must not be allowed to be engulfed by the craze for urbanisation. The villages should be made prosperous by making small-scale farming profitable and by promoting small scale and village industries which should be the main supplier of basic non-agricultural goods for the local population. Orginary articles of daily consumption like edible oil and soap must not come from big factories located far away. Awareness about the horrors of megacities will motivate all sensibel persons to desire new forms of human habitation that will resembe the village rather than the city.

[The following may be put at the end of the paragraph on knowledge and technoloy]


It will be the task of the PGA to undertake a critical evaluation of the predominant technologies of today in order to judge whether these will be at all useful in the building of a decentralised, egalitarian society. At the first glance, it seems that computers are not production oriented, they are management tools designed to handle transational busniess. Sumularly the internet might end up destroying the pluralistic approach to compiling amd [... one word not legible ...] knowledge. A deeper analysis will be needed to verify the truth of this statement. In any case, economic and political decentralisation will necessitate new technological inventions, and new directions in theoretical science. A scientific revolution is called for.

Our convictoin about the expolotatitve nature of ceratin technologies should also make us careful about making use of these technologies unquestioningly in our personal activities.

[If the following is controversial, it can be dropped for the time being and not circulated.]


A statement of prostitution is already there in the manifesto. We can add a sentence to point out that the international labour organisatoin (ILO) has launched a programme of legitimising prosititution and making it more attractive to the millions of marginalised women who are facing unemployment and pauperisation.

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