International Seminar

The Social and Environmental Effects of "Free" Trade
Geneva, 16 to 31 August 1998

THIS IS A SEMINAR about the 800 million people who go hungry everyday, about the women whose health is destroyed working in the textile industry for miserable wages, about the indigenous peoples massacred by multinationals for defending their lands, about the freedom of exploitation caused by "free" trade.

About peasants squatting land all across the planet, about the battles against big dams and other megalomaniac projects, about the struggle of the Zapatistas in Chiapas, about the women and men who are daily defying patriarchy, about the squatting of houses and streets to the rhythm of drums, about the self governance of the thousands of workers who have taken over their factories.

We have organised it to inform you and to heat up your adrenaline, to inspire your rage and strengthen your hope.



The seminar is divided into five blocks. The first block starts by defining a series of basic concepts, such as development, globalisation, neoliberalism, gender and sustainability. This is followed by a historical perspective of development, from colonialism until the present day. (3 days)

The second block will be dedicated to theoretical descriptions and practical discussions about gender relations, the environment, culture and technology. (2 days)

In the third block, we will put the themes discussed in the second block into more concrete terms, focussing on the study of the "development" of agriculture and rural societies. In this block we will place a special emphasis on the environmental, cultural and gender impact of the Green Revolution and modern biotechnologies and patents on life. ( 2 days )

In the fourth block, we focus on studying the rules which shape the globalised world in which we live. We will talk about the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and its trade treaties which govern the world, the financial casino which moves billions of dollars electronically every day, regional integration agreements (such as Maastricht and NAFTA), and about the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, which is currently being imposed on us. We will also talk about the agreements which attempt to solve environmental problems created by globalisation, such as the Climate Convention, the Biodiversity Convention and the Montreal Protocol.. (4 days)

Finally, in the last block, we will discuss power structures and the alternatives to such structures. We will analyse who runs the world today, and how, and we will explore different alternatives. There will be discussion of the pros and cons of diverse forms of action and of organisation. As the last part, we shall talk about various processes of co-ordination which can exist at different levels. (3 days)

The speakers will include a variety of activists, academics, authors and representatives of different organisations. Some of them will be well known authorities in their fields, some others unknown but experienced practitioners. We will invite representatives of Indigenous peoples (who will be in Geneva at the time of the seminar, participating in the UN Working Group on Indigenous peoples) to come and talk about their struggles. And we will also invite official representatives of several international institutions and NGOs to talk - including people who will have a very different view of the world than the organisers (for instance, we hope that a representative of the World Trade Organisation will hold a workshop).



The seminar is open to everyone, regardless of age, previous knowledge or experience around the issues.

The seminar will be held in the garden of a big house beside the Lake of Geneva, just outside town. We'll be able to use the kitchen and bathrooms of the house, but the seminar itself will be outdoors (excepting rainy days). You should bring a camping tent and a sleeping bag with you. If you have no possibility to get hold of a tent, let us know beforehand and we'll try to find place for you.

Since the programme is dense and complicated, there will be some free time to consolidate concepts, rest your minds, chat with other people. The seminar will combine educational sessions in the mornings with workshops in some afternoons. There will be two free days, and in 8 afternoons there will be workshops, discussions, videos, dances, lake swimming, games, or what else people want to do. For these activities we are counting on the initiative and creativity of the participants, so remember to bring your videos, musical instruments, games materials, and sense of fun.

You'll have to be prepared for helping out with domestic work (cleaning, cooking, etc) and to survive on vegetarian food (although you can of course bring meat for self consumption). We also count on your respect for the people whose garden we'll squat. And you'll also have to be prepared to live for the two weeks in a group where no forms of discrimination or aggression will be tolerated; there is enough of that out there, so we do not want to deal with it also at the seminar.



The seminar will be held in English and French. Depending on the interest, there might also be translation into German and / or Italian.



The participation fee (which includes a place to put up your tent and food) will differ depending on the region where the participant lives. For people living in very rich Western countries (Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, France, etc) the fee will be 250 Swiss Francs (around 166 US$). For people living in rich Western countries (Italy, Spain, Portugal, etc) the fee will be 200 Swiss Franks (about 133 US$). For most other people, the seminar will be either for free or very cheap.

For people staying only for a few days, a DAILY fee of 15 Swiss Francs will be charged, no matter whether you live in very rich or just rich countries.



We are people who work together for social and environmental justice and gender equality. We come from different places and work together but in an autonomous manner, since we are all sick of big organisations (especially political parties and other groups with their eyes on power). We do not have a name or a legal status. We work on issues that are of concern to us, hoping to inform and inspire as large and diverse a range of people as possible.


Please send to: Seminar "Globalisation and Resistance", c/o IAS. 5, Rue Samuel Constant. 1201 Geneva. Switzerland. Tel/Fax ++42-22-34 44 731. E-mail:







Organisation/collective (if applicable)

Do you need a Swiss visa?

How many days do you intend to come for? From until

Can you bring a camping tent? Can you share it with someone else?

Would like to organise any activity for the free time sessions? If yes, please describe



Globalisation and Resistance

Social and ecological effects of "free" trade

Geneva, 15 - 31 August 1998

Saturday 15th

Arrival and registration (whole day). Group dynamics.

Sunday 16th

10.00 - 14.30 Presentation of the seminar: introductory role game.

17.00 - 19.00 Introduction: concepts (development, globalisation, neo-liberalism, gender, patriarchy, sustainability...)


Part 1: History of development; economic theories

Monday 17th

10.00 - 12.00 Colonialism. The post-war economic order: the Bretton Woods Conference.

12.30 - 14.30 Economic theories: the neoclassic and keynesian schools.

17.00 - 19.00 Development strategies in the 60s and the 70s.

Tuesday 18th

10.00 - 12.00 The 80s: the lost decade. Debt and structural adjustment.

12.30 - 14.30 The 90s: globalisation and "the end of history".

17.00 - 19.00 (workshops)


Part 2: Gender, Environment and culture

Wednesday 19th

10.00 - 14.30 Gender

17.00 - 19.00 (workshops)

Thursday 20th

10.00 - 12.00 Environment

12.30 - 14.30 Culture: knowledge and technology

17.00 - 19.00 Culture: transport and communications


Part 3: Agriculture and biotechnology

Friday 21st

10.00 - 12.00 Industrial agriculture. Green revolution.

12.30 - 14.30 Examples: Switzerland and India.

17.00 - 19.00 (workshops)

Saturday 22nd

10.00 - 12.00 Modern biotechnology

12.30 - 14.30 Patents on life

17.00 - 19.00 (workshops)

Sunday 23rd - Free day


Part 4: A globalised world

Monday 24th

10.00 - 12.00 The Uruguay Round of GATT and the creation of the WTO.

12.30 - 14.30 The WTO system.

17.00 - 19.00 (workshops)

Tuesday 25th

10.00 - 12.00 The financial casino.

12.30 - 14.30 The Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI).

17.00 - 19.00 The debate on social and environmental clauses.

Wednesday 26th

10.00 - 12.00 Regional economic liberalisation.

12.30 - 14.30 The treaties of Maastricht and Amsterdam. The Economic and Monetary Union

17.00 - 19.00 (workshops)

Thursday 27th

10.00 - 14.30 Trade-related Multilateral Environmental Agreements: The Rio Conventions (on Climate and Biodiversity) and their Protocols (Kyoto and Biosafety), the Montreal Protocol, CITES and the Treaty of Basel.

17.00 - 19.00 (workshops)


Part 5: Power and alternatives

Friday 28th

10.00 - 14.30 Centralisation and power distance. Lobby groups and "corporate power". ERT and WEF. The power of mass-media.

17.00 - 19.00 (workshops)

Saturday 29th

10.00 - 12.00 Alternatives: Concepts.

12.30 - 14.30 Forms of action.

17.00 - 19.00 Forms of organisation.

Sunday 30th

10.00 - 14.30 Discussion about actions and campaigns at local, regional and international level.

17.00 - 19.00 Evaluation.

Goodbye party

Monday 31st

Departure (morning)

old calendarindex of may 98