This booklet can be downloaded in PDF format (113 KB) which can be viewed and printed in fully layouted 16-page version using a pdf viewer like xpdf or Acrobat Reader.

Second Conference of

Peoples' Global Action
against 'Free' Trade
and the WTO (PGA)


Bangalore, India, 23rd-26th August

The programme includes:

More information: <agpweb (AT)>, or fax +91-80-330 2171

Second Conference of
Peoples' Global Action
against 'Free' Trade and the WTO (PGA)

Bangalore, India, 23rd-26th August 1999


  1. What is Peoples' Global Action (PGA)?
  2. A brief history of Peoples' Global Action
  3. The Second PGA Conference
  4. Exposure trips and roundtable discussions
  5. Accommodation and food
  6. Registration and fees

A1. Manifesto of the PGA
A2. Organisational principles of the PGA

1. What is Peoples' Global Action (PGA)?

From the 23rd to the 25th of February 1998, peoples' movements from all continents met in Geneva and launched a worldwide coordination of resistance against the global market, a new alliance of struggle and mutual support called the Peoples' Global Action against "Free" Trade and the World Trade Organisation (PGA). This new platform intends to serve as a global instrument for communication and co-ordination for all those fighting against the destruction of humanity and the planet by the global market, building up local alternatives and peoples' power.

The hallmarks of the alliance are:

¡ modified at the 3rd PGA conference in Cochabamba 2001 !

  1. A very clear rejection of the WTO and other trade liberalisation agreements (like APEC, the EU, NAFTA, etc.) as active promoters of a socially and environmentally destructive globalisation;
  2. A confrontational attitude, since we do not think that lobbying can have a major impact in such biased and undemocratic organisations, in which transnational capital is the only real policy-maker;
  3. A call to non-violent civil disobedience and the construction of local alternatives by local people, as answers to the action of governments and corporations;
  4. An organisational philosophy based on decentralisation and autonomy.

These four points were the basis of the discussions in February 1998, the common positions on which we constructed the platform and drafted the manifesto. They were developed in a discussion process among organisations from all over the world that included an international meeting in August 1997.

The PGA is an instrument for co-ordination, not an organisation. Its objectives are inspiring the greatest possible number of persons and organisations to act against "free" trade through non-violent civil disobedience and people-oriented constructive actions, offering an instrument for co-ordination and mutual support at global level for those fighting "free" trade and giving more international projection to the struggles against "free" trade and the WTO. The political analysis and call for action of the PGA are reflected in its manifesto, a living document that will be revised at every PGA conference.

The PGA has no membership, and it does not and will not have a juridical personality. No organisation or person represents the PGA, nor does the PGA represent any organisation or person. The PGA will only facilitate coordination and information flow with the help of conferences and information tools.

The conferences of the PGA are convened by a committee conformed by organisations and movements from all continents representing different sectors of society (plus the local organisers of the conference). This committee determines the programme of the conference, takes decisions about participation on the conference and use of resources, decides which publications can be printed under the name of the PGA, and checks the content of the information tools of the PGA. The committee cannot speak in the name of the PGA. Each PGA conference will elect the Convenors' Committee of the next conference, hence the third committee will be elected in Bangalore.

The Convenors' Committee of the Second PGA Conference is composed of:

  • Black Communities' Process (PCN - Colombia)
  • Canadian Union of Postal Workers
  • Committee of Female Workers of El Salvador
  • Confederation of Education Workers of Argentina
  • Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador
  • Maori Independence Movement (Aoteoroa - New Zealand)
  • National Alliance of People's Movements (India)
  • Reclaim the Streets! London (UK)
  • Rural Organisation for Mutual Help (Mozambique)
  • Socio-Ecological Union (federation of over 200 groups in Central/Eastern Europe)

The PGA does not have any resources. The funds needed to pay the conferences and the information tools have to be raised in a decentralised way. All the funds raised for the conference are administered by the committee. The publications are self-financed.

For more information see the manifesto in appendix A1 and the organisational principles in appendix A2.

2. A brief history of Peoples' Global Action

From the 18th to the 20th of May 1998, heads of state and ministers from all over the world met in Geneva for the 2nd Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the multilateral trade system (GATT and WTO), the main instrument of transnational capital for organising and enforcing global economic governance. This event was aimed, in the words of its organisers, to "celebrate the past while preparing the way for the future" of trade liberalisation — i.e., of the destruction of rural societies, dignity in labour, the environment, cultural diversity and self-determination.

Around 50 representatives of peoples' organisations from the South and the North met to prepare the resistance against this event in El Indiano (Spain) in August 97, right after the 2nd Inter-Continental Gathering for Humanity and against Neoliberalism. The objective of the meeting was developing common plans against the commemoration of the GATT and the WTO and developing lasting instruments of communication and coordination in the struggle against the WTO and other 'free'-trade agreements. The organisations represented included mass-based farmers' movements from India (KRRS), Philippines (KMP), Indonesia (KAP), Brazil (MST), Peru (CCP) and Bolivia (FCB), indigenous peoples' organisations from Nigeria (MOSOP) and Mexico (CNI and Asamblea de la Resistencia Civil from Chiapas), trade unions from Nicaragua (CST) and diverse organisations from the North.

One of the decisions taken at that meeting was launching a network for maintaining the communication and coordination after the days of action against the Ministerial Conference in May 1998. The original idea was to use the network that was intended to construct in the Second Intercontinental Gathering for this purpose, but it was felt by most of the participants that the articulation and decision-making procedures of this network were not sufficiently clear in order to take such a decision in a legitimate way. It was hence decided to convene an international conference in Geneva in February 1998 to establish such a network and to discuss the plans of action against the Ministerial Conference of the WTO. It was decided to call the new network Peoples' Global Action against 'Free' Trade and the WTO, in short Peoples' Global Action (PGA).

More than 300 delegates of people's movements from 71 countries of all continents gathered in Geneva from the 23rd to the 25th February for the foundational conference of the PGA. Teachers hungerstriking against privatisation in Argentina met women organising against quasi-slavery in the "Maquila" factories of Mexico, Bangladesh, Salvador, and Nicaragua; women's rights activists; farmers struggling against globalisation in India, Philippines, Brazil, Estonia, Norway, Honduras, France, Spain, Switzerland, Bangladesh, Senegal, Mozambique, Togo, Peru, Bolivia, Columbia and many other countries; Ogoni, Maori, Maya, Aymara, U'wa and other indigenous peoples fighting for their cultural rights and physical survival; students struggling against nuclear power or the repression of striking workers in Ukraine and South Korea; postal workers from Canada resisting privatisation, militants against "un-free"trade from the United States, environmentalists, unemployed, fisherfolk, anti-racists, peace mobilisers, animal rights activists... Such a world-wide meeting of women and men of grassroots movements was an extraordinary experience, bringing new vision, hope and determination to us all. Despite the huge material differences, struggles in privileged and under-privileged parts of the world could witness that they have more and more in common, setting the stage for a new and stronger sort of solidarity. The conference itself, largely housed in squatted halls and houses, depending entirely on the freely offered work of the genevan "alternative" sector, was an example of this.

The first worldwide co-ordination of local actions against 'free' trade took place during the WTO ministerial conference and was a huge success: many different demonstrations, actions and Global Street Parties took place all over the world from the 16th to the 20th of May, in a total of 29 countries.

During the days of action and the following months, a wave of repressive measures took place against activists associated with the PGA network. The police arrested and mistreated hundreds of protestors in Geneva and other cities were major actions were taking place, and in the following months some of the key organisations and activists were arrested and their flats and offices searched by the police. A seminar organised by people associated with the PGA was raided by the police, who arrested all the participants for debating and discussing about the globalisation of the economy.

However, the planification of actions continued: the second conference was prepared to take place before the Third Ministerial Conference of the WTO in Seattle (USA) and the convenors of the PGA endorsed two major projects for the first half of 1999: the Inter-Continental Caravan for Solidarity and Resistance from the 22nd of May to the 20th of June and the Global Day of Action against Financial Centres on June 18th.

The Inter-Continental Caravan for Solidarity and Resistance brought together around 450 representatives of peoples' movements from the South and the East with a diverse network of European grassroots groups for a full programme of actions, meetings and demonstrations. The groups preparing the caravan in Europe ranged from organisations of the unemployed to groups working against genetic engineering, from squatted social centres to feminist organisations, who invited the participants of the caravan to a total of 10 countries in a route that culminated in the protests against the heads of state of the most industrialised countries of the world, who met in Cologne for the World Economic Summit, also known as G8 Summit.

Although the largest chunk of the caravan participants represented Indian peoples' movements (which were the ones that proposed the project in mid-98), there were also representatives of the landless farmers' movement in Brazil, the Zapatistas in Chiapas (Mexico), the organisation of landless labourers from Bangladesh, the indigenous peoples of Chile, the Afro-American Network, human rights organisations from Nepal, environmental organisations in Ukraine, anti-nuclear organisations from Pakistan, etc. Among the Indian participants, the majority represented farmers' organisations, but also other social sectors such as the fisherfolk, the Adivasi (i.e. indigenous peoples), movements against big dams, etc.

The actions taken by the caravan included demonstrations in front of the headquarters of multinational corporations such as Novartis, Monsanto, Cargill, Nestle and others, at institutions such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the NATO, the FAO and the European Central Bank, and at events such as the summit of the European Union. Some direct actions, such as the destruction of two fields of genetically modified crops and one biotechnology laboratory in collaboration with the French Peasants' Confederation, or the painting Novartis' building in Barcelona along with a wide range of social and ecological organisations, were also in the programme of the caravan.

In Cologne, the organisations represented in the caravan raised their voice against the plans of the industrial nations to continue pushing for trade and investment treaties that are designed to benefit transnational capital at the expense of people and nature. They specifically opposed the attempts to start a new round of negotiations within the World Trade Organisation, a plan proposed by the European Union and endorsed by the USA and Japan. They also rejected and opposed the very concept of Third World debt, called for a ban on the use of genetically modified organisms in agriculture and denounced militarism and the nuclear industry in the North and the South. Unfortunately, their protest was repressed by a totally disproportionate and aggressive police force. 15,000 policemen and policewomen from all over the country were brought to Cologne to make sure that any confrontational opposition would be crashed before starting. The media played their usual role to silence the mass arrests and the brutality of the police force.

The day when the World Economic Summit stated, one day after the caravan reached Cologne, hundreds of decentralised actions were taking place all over the planet on the Global Day of Action against Financial Centres on June 18th. Movements ranging from the Chikoko Movement in Nigeria to the Pakistani trade unions, from the Argentinian churches to the squatters of London, took the financial centres of their cities to manifest their rejection to the rule of the G8. Such coordinated resistance in a total of 41 countries showed that the process of convergence of resistances is gaining strength and speed.

The caravan and the day of action on June 18th have helped consolidate the PGA network. However, there is still a lot to do before the kind of network envisaged in the Geneva conference comes into being. The Bangalore conference should form part of this process.

3. The Second PGA Conference

The Second Conference of Peoples' Global Action against “Free” Trade and the WTO (PGA) will take place in Bangalore (India) from the 23rd to the 26th of August of 1999. This event will be of key importance for the PGA process in several senses.

  1. It will launch a discussion process among peoples' movements from the around the world on the role and functions that an international coordination and communication network like the PGA should play, and how it should fulfil those functions. This discussion could not take place in the first PGA conference in Geneva, since most of that time was devoted to discussion of the PGA manifesto, and to coordinating actions to coincide with the Second Ministerial Conference of the WTO in May 1998. We feel that a wide and inclusive discussion should start as soon as possible in order to consolidate and move forward the PGA process.
  2. The conference will also provide a great opportunity to plan massive mobilisations against the Third WTO Ministerial Conference (see below), along with generating new plans for action.
  3. The PGA manifesto will also be revised during the conference (although we will devote less time to this discussion than during the first conference) and a new Convenors' Committee will be elected.
  4. As the conference will be hosted by the Karnataka State Farmers' Association (KRRS), one of the biggest social movements in South Asia, it will enable all who travel to Bangalore to get acquainted with the work of this very inspiring grassroots movement. It will also offer the possibility of getting to know other movements in Karnataka and the North of Kerala. To this purpose, there will be a series of exposure trips before and after the conference (15th-19th and 27th-31st August) to rural areas where important struggles are taking or have taken place.
  5. Just before the conference (20th-22nd August), a number of roundtable discussions will take place in Bangalore, giving the participants to exchange information and opinions and share experiences in issues such as biotechnology, the struggle of indigenous peoples, the organisational processes of afro-american communities, or the negotiations agenda in the WTO.
  6. Of course an important part of the conference is to meet people, feel inspired - to feel that we, in our groups around the world, are part of something far bigger.

This conference should be attended only by activists and delegates of organisations that agree with the four hallmarks of the PGA: clear rejection of the WTO and other liberalisation fora; confrontational attitude; call to non-violent civil disobedience and to the construction of local alternatives by local populations; decentralisation and autonomy as organisational principles. These four points will not be subject of discussion. People who do not agree with them may attend the conference as observers if there are places available but will be requested to remain silent in the debates.

The discussion process about the role of PGA as international information and coordination network will be facilitated with the help of a common discussion paper that will be sent to all the participants of the conference. This paper will describe in detail the achievements and failures of the network so far, as well as the different perceptions of what role PGA should play and of how to continue. This paper will soon be posted in the web page ( The revision of the manifesto will be assisted by the discussion of the different papers that have already been written by several people on the subject, available at the web page.

The Third WTO Ministerial Conference will take place in Seattle (USA) from the 29th of November to the 3rd of December of 1999. At this event, the Northern governments and TNCs want to further expand the regime of the WTO, which sets the rules of exploitation and destruction of global capitalism and guarantees its continuity. They expect the Third Ministerial Conference to:

  1. launch a new round of negotiations within the WTO to further 'liberalise' trade and investment, incorporating into the WTO regime an agreement similar to the defeated Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) that was negotiated in the OECD;
  2. expanding the Agreement on Agriculture of the WTO, which is one of the main reasons for the misery of small farmers in all the continents, the ellimination of food security policies, the increasing cocentration of productive resources in the hands of agribusiness and the introduction of genetic engineering in fields and kitchens all over the world;
  3. expanding the TRIPs agreement on intellectual property, which forces all countries which are members of the WTO to give private property rights over life forms (in the form of patents).

Only a massive worldwide outcry against these policies can stop this onslaught on the lives of millions of people and on the future of the planet. The Bangalore PGA conference will provide a good opportunity to strengthen the awareness of peoples' movements of the issues that will be discussed at the WTO III conference, as well as to discuss and plan a global campaign against the WTO regime, including actions all over the world to coincide with the WTO conference (29 Nov-3rd Dec 99).

A project that our friends from the Americas have already started to prepare is a second Inter-Continental Caravan, mainly composed by representatives of Latin American movements, which would travel though the USA ending at the WTO III conference in Seattle. This will be discussed further at the Bangalore conference. An email list has been set up to organise against the 3rd WTO Ministerial. To subscribe send a message to <>. For more information, please write to <> or go to

The secretariat of the Second PGA Conference will be located at the office of the Karnataka State Farmers' Association (KRRS), 2111 7-A Cross 3rd Main, Vijayanagar II, 560040 Bangalore, India. Tel +91-80-3300965; fax +91-80-3302171. The e-mail and web remain the same as always: <agpweb (AT)>,

4. Exposure trips and roundtables

There will be several other events before and after the Second Conference of the PGA. Their schedule will be:

15th-19th August: First round of exposure trips to areas of struggle in South India

20th-22nd August: Roundtable discussions

23rd-26th August: Second PGA Conference

27th-31st August: Second round of exposure trips to areas of struggle in South India

The exposure trips will take place in the states of Karnataka and Kerala. They are being prepared by a number of movements and organisations of these states, including farmers' movements, adivasi organisations, movements of resistance against big dams, against tourist complexes, against big industrial activities, etc. They will enable the participants to live together with the protagonists of social struggles in these two states and learn about their movements, problems and strategies from them directly. Both rounds of exposure trips will last for five days and cover several movements, and at least during the second round there will be several simultaneous exposure trips going on at the same time in order to keep the size of the groups small enough to enable good discussions.

A number of information and discussion roundtables on different topics will take place from the 20th to the 22nd of August, just before the beginning of the conference. In these roundtables, groups of about 20-30 people will exchange information and discuss the topics on which they work. A provisional, indicative list of topics is given below.

Among the functions of the roundtable discussions are:

  1. Developing proposals for modifications in the PGA manifesto
  2. Advancing concrete proposals for coordinated actions around the globe, be it against the Third Ministerial Conference of the WTO or in other occasions
  3. Discussing in small groups the role(s) that an international network such as PGA should play and how it should it fulfil its function
  4. Fostering more contact and cooperation between organisations working on similar fields

For the convenors and organisers it is very important that if possible all the participants attend the roundtable discussions. Although they do not have decision-making power (which lays only on the conference itself), much of the preparation work for the conference will be done at these roundtables.

5. Travel, accommodation and food

We are trying to arrange a more economic group booking for the travel to Bangalore from different destinations in the west of India (Africa, the Americas and Europe). The bookings from other Asian countries and for the Pacific will be more economical with other carriers than the ones with whom we are negotiating for the Western bookings. We are trying to get individual bookings for a group tariff — cheaper than group bookings but still with the possibility to choose the arrival and departure dates independently for each booking. This exercise is proving quite difficult (the conference takes place in the middle of the highest season), but we are still trying. If you are interested in such a booking, please indicate it in your registration form.

There will be at least a reclaimed "free" train from Delhi to Bangalore and back (for Indian participants), maybe from more destinations (Bombay, Calcutta). There will also be a very reduced number of travel grants. However, these will be granted directly by the convenors. If you need travel assistance please address the convenor of your region directly, but we advise you to seek assistance for the travel expenses from other sources, since we have very limited funds for this purpose and almost all of them are distributed already.

The accommodation for the roundtable discussions and the conference will take place in the conference venue, the folklore centre of Karnataka, situated on the road between the cities of Bangalore and Mysore. Part of the participants will sleep in the centre itself and part of them in tents outside. The food will be served at the same venue, and our friends of the KRRS will try to offer a varied menu including Indian specialities as well as some international dishes. They will also be moderate with the use of spices in order to care for delicate stomachs.

During the exposure trips the accommodation will be arranged in a variety of places and ways: farms, tents in the beach, a squatted US bank, etc. The food will be prepared locally. The transport will take place in rented buses.

The cost for accommodation and food is included in the participation fees of the exposure trips and the roundtables/conference. The transport fee for the exposure trips is also included in the participation fee.

6. Registration and fees

The participation fees for the conference, the roundtable discussions and the exposure trips will be variable, depending on the country where the participants live — people from the North will pay a bit more so that people from the South and the East pay less. The fees applicable will also depend on which kind of programme you want to join. Due to this complexity, we are not including here all the fees; we will inform you on request. However, the fees will be quite low for all (excepting observers). We ask all the participants to also give some contribution to the solidarity fund for the representatives of movements from the South who cannot pay their travel expenses.

To register for the conference please answer these questions (either here or in a separate piece of paper) and send them to the secretariat of the conference (see address below):

Application form for the Second PGA conference and associated events

  1. First Name(s):
  2. Family Name(s):
  3. Sex (Female/Male):
  4. Organisation (please include a brief description):
  5. Address (specify whether it is yours or your organisation's):
  6. Telephone, fax, email, web (if available):
  7. Which part(s) of the programme do you want to attend? (conference, roundtable discussions, first and/or second round of exposure trips). Please let us know your tentative arrival and departure dates.

  9. Do you have any special needs regarding accommodation, food, mobility, etc? (Please elaborate in a separate piece of paper if needed)
  10. Which language(s) do you speak?
  11. If you come from Africa, the Americas or Europe, are you interested in the group booking mentioned above?
  12. To what extend are you already sure about your attendance to the conference?

The secretariat of the Second PGA Conference will be located in the office of the Karnataka State Farmers' Association (KRRS), 2111 7-A Cross 3rd Main, Vijayanagar II, 560040 Bangalore, India. Tel +91-80-3300965; fax +91-80-3302171. The e-mail and web remain the same as always: <agpweb (AT)>,


A1. Manifesto of the PGA

We cannot take communion from the altars of a dominant culture
which confuses price with value
and converts people and countries into merchandise.
-- Eduardo Galeano

If you come only to help me, you can go back home.
But if you consider my struggle as part of your struggle for survival,
then maybe we can work together.
-- Aboriginal woman


We live in a time in which capital, with the help of international agencies like the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB) and other institutions, is shaping national policies in order to strengthen its global control over political, economic and cultural life.

Capital has always been global. Its boundless drive for expansion and profit recognises no limits. From the slave trade of earlier centuries to the imperial colonisation of peoples, lands and cultures across the globe, capitalist accumulation has always fed on the blood and tears of the peoples of the world. This destruction and misery has been restrained only by grassroots resistance.

Today, capital is deploying a new strategy to assert its power and neutralise peoples' resistance. Its name is economic globalisation, and it consists in the dismantling of national limitations to trade and to the free movement of capital.

The effects of economic globalisation spread through the fabric of societies and communities of the world, integrating their peoples into a single gigantic system aimed at the extraction profit and the control of peoples and nature. Words like "globalisation", "liberalisation" and "deregulation" just disguise the growing disparities in living conditions between elites and masses in both privileged and "peripheral" countries.

The newest and perhaps the most important phenomenon in the globalisation process is the emergence of trade agreements as key instruments of accumulation and control. The WTO is by far the most important institution for evolving and implementing these trade agreements. It has become the vehicle of choice for transnational capital to enforce global economic governance. The Uruguay Round vastly expanded the scope of the multilateral trading system (i.e. the agreements under the aegis of the WTO) so that it no longer constitutes only trade in manufactured goods. The WTO agreements now also cover trade in agriculture, trade in services, intellectual property rights, and investment measures. This expansion has very significant implications for economic and non-economic matters. For example, the General Agreement on Trade in Services will have far-reaching effects on cultures around the world. Similarly, the TRIPs (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights) agreement and unilateral pressures, especially on biodiversity-rich countries, are forcing these countries to adopt new legislations establishing property rights over forms of life, with disastrous consequences for biodiversity and food security. The multilateral trading system, embodied in the WTO, has a tremendous impact on the shaping of national economic and social policies, and hence on the scope and nature of development options.

Trade agreements are also proliferating at the regional level. NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) is the prototype of a regional legally-binding agreement involving privileged and underprivileged countries, and its model is sought to be extended to South America. APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) is another model with both kinds of countries involved, and it is being increasingly used to force new agreements into the framework of the WTO. The Maastricht Treaty is of course the main example of a legally-binding agreement among privileged countries. Regional trade agreements among underprivileged countries, such as ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), SADC (Southern African Development Cooperation), SAFTA (South Asian Free Trade Agreement) and MERCOSUR (Southern Common Market), have also emerged. All these regional agreements consist of the transfer of decision-making power from the national level to regional institutions which are even more distant from people and less democratic than the nation-state.

As though this was not enough, a new treaty is being promoted by the privileged countries, the Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI) to widen the rights of foreign investors far beyond their current positions in most countries and to severely curtail the rights and powers of governments to regulate the entry, establishment and operations of foreign companies and investors. This is currently also the most important attempt to extend globalisation and "economic liberalisation". MAI would abolish the power and the legitimate sovereign right of peoples to determine their own economic, social, and cultural policies.

All these institutions and agreements share the same goals: providing mobility for goods, services and capital, increasing transnational capital's control over peoples and nature, transferring power to distant and undemocratic institutions, foreclosing the possibility to develop community-based and self-reliant economies, and restricting peoples' freedom to construct societies based on human values.

Economic globalisation, power and the "race to the bottom"

Economic globalisation has given birth to new forms of accumulation and power. The accumulation takes place on a global scale, at increasing speed, controlled by transnational corporations and investors. While capital has gone global, redistribution policies remain the responsibility of national governments, which are unable, and most of the times unwilling, to act against the interests of transnational capital.

This asymmetry is provoking an accelerating redistribution of power at global level, strengthening what is usually referred to as "corporate power". In this peculiar political system, global capital determines (with the help of "informal" and extremely influential lobby groups, such as the World Economic Forum) the economic and social agenda on a world-wide scale. These corporate lobby groups give their instructions to governments in the form of recommendations, and governments follow them, since the few that refuse to obey the "advice" of corporate lobby groups find their currencies under attack by speculators and see the investors pulling out. The influence of corporate lobby groups has been strengthened by regional and multilateral agreements. With their help, neo-liberal policies are being imposed all over the world.

These neo-liberal policies are creating social tensions at global level similar to the ones witnessed at national level during the first stages of the industrialisation: while the number of billionaires grows, more and more people around the world find themselves in a system that offers them no place in production and no access to consumption. This desperation, combined with the free mobility of capital, provides transnational investors the best possible environment to pit workers and governments against each other. The result is a "race to the bottom" in social and environmental conditions and the dismantling of redistribution policies (progressive taxation, social security systems, reduction of working time, etc). A vicious circle is created, wherein "effective demand" concentrates increasingly in the hands of a transnational elite, while more and more people cannot meet their basic needs.

This process of world-wide accumulation and exclusion amounts to a global attack on elementary human rights, with very visible consequences: misery, hunger, homelessness, unemployment, deteriorating health conditions, landlessness, illiteracy, sharpened gender inequalities, explosive growth of the "informal" sector and the underground economy (particularly production and trade of drugs), the destruction of community life, cuts in social services and labour rights, increasing violence at all levels of society, accelerating environmental destruction, growing racial, ethnic and religious intolerance, massive migration (for economic, political and environmental reasons), strengthened military control and repression, etc.

Exploitation, labour and livelihoods

The globalisation of capital has to a very significant extent dispossessed workers of their ability to confront or bargain with capital in a national context. Most of the conventional trade unions (particularly in the privileged countries) have accepted their defeat by the global economy and are voluntarily giving up the conquests won by the blood and tears of generations of workers. In compliance with the requirements of capital, they have traded solidarity for "international competitiveness" and labour rights for "flexibility of the labour market". Now they are actively advocating the introduction of a "social" clause in the multilateral trading system, which would give privileged countries a tool for selective, one-sided and neo-colonial protectionism, with the effect of increasing poverty instead of attacking it at its root.

Right-wing groups in privileged countries often blame "social dumping" from underprivileged countries for the rising unemployment and the worsening labour conditions. They say that southern peoples are hijacking northern capital with the help of cheap labour, weak or non-existent labour and environmental regulations and low taxes, and that southern exports are forcing northern producers out of the market. While there is a certain degree of relocation to underprivileged countries (concentrated in specific sectors like textiles and microelectronics), the teenage girls who sacrifice their health doing unpaid overtime in transnational sweatshops for miserable salaries can hardly be blamed for the social havoc created by free mobility of goods and capital. Moreover, most relocation happens between rich countries, with only a fraction of foreign investment going to underprivileged countries (and even some investment flowing to the north from countries traditionally considered as "underdeveloped"). And the threat of relocation to another rich country (by far the most usual kind of relocation) is as effective in blackmailing workers as the threat to relocate to an underprivileged country. Finally, the main cause of unemployment in privileged countries is the introduction of "rationalisation" technologies, over which underprivileged peoples certainly have no influence at all. In short, increasing exploitation is solely the responsibility of capitalists, not of peoples.

Many advocates of "development" welcome the free movement capital from privileged to underprivileged countries as a positive contribution to the improvement of the living conditions of the poor, since foreign investment produces jobs and livelihoods. They forget that the positive social impact of foreign investment is limited by its very nature, since transnational corporations will only keep their money in underprivileged countries as long as the policies of these countries enable them to continue exploiting the misery and desperation of the population. The financial markets impose extreme punishments to the countries that dare to adopt any kind of policy that could eventually result in improved living standards, as exemplified by the abrupt end to the shy redistribution policies adopted in 1981 by Mitterand in France. Also, the Mexican crisis of 1994 and the recent crises in East Asia, although presented by the media as the result of technical mismanagement, are good examples of the impact of a corporate economic rule which gains strength every day both in underprivileged and privileged countries, conditioning each and every aspect of their social and economic policies.

Those who believe in the beneficial social effects of "free" market also forget that the impact of transnational capital is not limited to the creation of exploitative jobs. Most of the foreign direct investment (two thirds according to the United Nations) in both privileged and underprivileged countries consists of transnational corporations (TNCs) taking over national enterprises, which most typically results in the destruction of jobs. And TNCs never come alone with their money: they also bring foreign products into the country, sweeping great numbers of local firms and farms out of the market, or forcing them to produce under even more inhuman conditions. Finally, most of the foreign investment provokes the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, which results in the irretrievable dispossession of the livelihoods of diverse communities of indigenous peoples, farmers, ethnic groups etc.

We reject the idea that "free" trade creates employment and increases welfare, and the assumption that it can contribute to the alleviation of poverty. But we also very clearly reject the right-wing alternative of a stronger national capitalism, as well as the fascist alternative of an authoritarian state to take over central control from corporations. Our struggles aim at taking back control of the means of production from the hands of both transnational and national capital, in order to create free, sustainable and community-controlled livelihoods, based on solidarity and peoples' needs and not on exploitation and greed.

Gender oppression

Globalisation and neo-liberal policies build on and increase existing inequalities, including gender inequality. The gendered system of power in the globalised economy, like most traditional systems, encourages the exploitation of women as workers, as maintainers of the family and as sexual objects.

Women are responsible for creating, educating, feeding, clothing and disciplining young people to prepare them to become part of the global labour force. They are used as cheap and docile labour for the most exploitative forms of employment, as exemplified in the maquilas of the textile and microelectronics industry. Forced out of their homelands by the poverty caused by globalisation, many women seek employment in foreign countries, often as illegal immigrants, subjected to terrifying working conditions and insecurity. The world-wide trade in women's bodies has become a major element of world commerce and includes children as young as 10. They are used by the global economy through diverse forms of exploitation and commodification.

Women are expected to be actors only in their households. Although this has never been the case, this expectation has been used to deny women a role in public affairs. The economic system also makes use of these gender roles to identify women as the cause of many social and environmental problems. Hence, women having too many babies (rather than the rich consuming too many resources) is seen as the cause of the global environmental crisis. Similarly, the fact that women get low wages, since their remuneration are supposed to be only supplementary income for the household, is used to blame them for the unemployment of men and the reduction in their wage levels. As a result, women are used as scapegoats, declared guilty for creating the same misery that is oppressing them, instead of pointing at the global capital as responsible for social and environmental havoc. This ideological stigmatisation adds to the physical violence suffered on a daily basis by women all over the planet.

Patriarchy and the gender system rest firmly on the idea of the naturalness and exclusivity of heterosexuality. Most of the social systems and structures violently reject any other form of sexual expression or activity, and this limitation of freedom is used in order to perpetuate patriarchal gender roles. Globalisation, although indirectly contributing to the struggles for women's and sexual liberation by introducing them in very oppressive societies, also strengthens the patriarchy at the root of violence against women and against gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

The elimination of patriarchy and the end of all forms of gender discrimination requires an open commitment against the global market. Similarly, it is vital that those struggling against global capital understand and confront the exploitation and marginalisation of women and participate in the struggle against homophobia. We need to develop new cultures that represent real alternatives to these old and new forms of oppression.

The indigenous peoples' fight for survival

Indigenous peoples and nationalities have a long history of resistance against the destruction provoked by capitalism. Today, they are confronted with the neo-liberal globalisation project as an instrument of transnational and financial capital for neo-colonisation and extermination. These new actors of the globalisation process are violently invading the last refuges of indigenous peoples, violating their territories, habitats and resources, destroying their ways of life, and often perpetrating their genocide. The nation states are permitting and actively encouraging these violations in spite of their commitment to respect indigenous peoples' rights, reflected in diverse declarations, agreements and conventions.

Corporations are stealing ancient knowledge and patenting it for their own gain and profit. This means that indigenous people and the rest of humanity will have to pay for access to the knowledge that will have thus been commodified. Furthermore, the indigenous peoples themselves are being patented by pharmaceutical corporations and the US administration, under the auspices of the Human Genome Diversity Programme. We oppose the patenting of all life forms and the corporate monopolistic control of seed, medicines and traditional knowledge systems and human genomes.

The fights of indigenous peoples to defend their lands (including the subsoil) and their forms of living, are leading to a growing repression against them and to the militarisation of their territories, forcing them to sacrifice their lives or their liberty. This struggle will continue until the right of indigenous peoples to territorial autonomy is fully respected throughout the world.

Oppressed ethnic groups

The black communities of African origin in the Americas suffered for centuries a violent and inhuman exploitation, as well as physical annihilation. Their labour force was used as a fundamental tool for accumulation of capital, both in America and Europe. Faced with this oppression, the Afro-Americans have created community-based processes of organisation and cultural resistance. Currently the black communities are suffering the effects of "development" megaprojects in their territories and the invasion of their lands by big landowners, which lead to massive displacement, misery and cultural alienation, and many times to repression and death.

A similar situation is being suffered by other peoples, like Gypsies, Kurds, Saharouis, etc. All these peoples are forced to struggle for their right to live in dignity by nation-states that repress their identity and autonomy, and impose on them a forced incorporation into a homogeneous society. Many of these groups are viewed as a threat by the dominant powers, since they are reclaiming and practising their right to cultural diversity and autonomy.

Onslaught on nature and agriculture

Land, water, forest, wildlife, aquatic life and mineral resources are not commodities, but our life support. For decades the powers that have emerged from money and market have swelled their profits and tightened their control of politics and economics by usurping these resources, at the cost of the lives and livelihoods of vast majorities around the world. For decades the World Bank and the IMF, and now the WTO, in alliance with national governments and corporate powers, have facilitated manoeuvrings to appropriate the environment. The result is environmental devastation, tragic and unmanageable social displacement, and the wiping out of cultural and biological diversity, much of it irretrievably lost without compensation to those reliant on it.

The disparities provoked within and between countries by national and global capital have widened and deepened as the rich spirit away the natural resources from communities and farmers, farm labourers, fishworkers, tribal and indigenous populations, women, the socially disadvantaged - beating down into the earth the already downtrodden. The centralised management of natural resources imposed by trade and investment agreements does not leave space for intergenerational and intragenerational sustainability. It only serves the agenda of the powers that have designed and ratified those agreements: to accumulate wealth and power.

Unsustainable and capital-intensive technologies have played a major role in corporations' onslaught on nature and agriculture. Green revolution technologies have caused social and environmental havoc wherever they have been applied, creating destitution and hunger instead of eliminating them. Today, modern biotechnology is emerging, together with patents on life, as one of the most powerful and dangerous weapons of corporations to take over the control of the food systems all over the world. Genetic engineering and patents on life must be resisted, since their potential social and environmental impact is the greatest in the history of humanity.

Waging struggles against the global capitalist paradigm, the underprivileged work towards the regeneration of their natural heritage and the rebuilding of integrated, egalitarian communities. Our vision is of a decentralised economy and polity based on communities' rights to natural resources and to plan their own development, with equality and self-reliance as the basic values. In place of the distorted priorities imposed through global designs in sectors such as transport, infrastructure and energy, and energy-intensive technology, they assert their right to life in the fulfilment of the basic needs of everyone, excluding the greed of the consumerist minority. Respecting traditional knowledge and cultures consonant with the values of equality, justice, and sustainability, we are committed to evolving creative ways to use and fairly distribute our natural resources.


Another important aspect of globalisation, as orchestrated by WTO and other international agencies, is the commercialisation and commodification of culture, the appropriation of diversity in order to co-opt it and integrate it into the process of capitalist accumulation. This process of homogenisation by the media not only contributes to the breakdown of the cultural and social networks in local communities, but also destroys the essence and meaning of culture.

Cultural diversity not only has an immeasurable value of its own, as reflections of human creativity and potential; it also constitutes a fundamental tool for resistance and self-reliance. Hence, cultural homogenisation has been one of the most important tools for central control since colonialism. In the past the elimination of cultural diversity was mainly accomplished by the Church and by the imposition of colonial languages. Today mass media and corporate consumerist culture are the main agents of commodification and homogenisation of cultural diversity. The result of this process is not only a major loss of humanity's heritage: it also creates an alarming dependence on the capitalist culture of mass consumption, a dependence that is much deeper in nature and much harder to eliminate than economic or political dependence.

Control over culture must be taken out of corporate hands and reclaimed by communities. Self-reliance and freedom are only possible on the basis of a lively cultural diversity that enables peoples to independently determine each and every aspect of their lives. We are deeply committed to cultural liberation in all areas of life, from food to films, from music to media. We will contribute with our direct action to the dismantlement of corporate culture and the creation of spaces for genuine creativity.

Knowledge and technology

Knowledge and technology are not neutral or value-free. The domination of capital is partly based on its control over both. Western science and technology have made very important contributions to humankind, but their domination has swept away very diverse and valuable knowledge systems and technologies based on centuries-long experience.

Western science is characterised by the production of simplified models of reality for experimental purposes; hence, the reductionist scientific method has an extremely limited capacity to produce useful knowledge about complex and chaotic systems like agriculture. Traditional knowledge systems and knowledge-production methods are far more effective, since they are based on generations of direct observation of and interaction with unsimplified complex systems. Therefore, capital-intensive, science-based technologies invariably fail to achieve their goals in complex systems, and many times provoke the disarray of these systems, as green revolution technologies, modern dam technology and many other examples demonstrate.

Despite their many failures, capital-intensive technologies are systematically treated as superior to traditional, labour-intensive technologies. This ideological discrimination results in unemployment, indebtedness and, most important, in the loss of an invaluable body of knowledges and technologies accumulated during centuries. Traditional knowledge, often controlled by women, has till recently been rejected as "superstition and "witchcraft" by western, mostly male, scientists and academics. Their "rationalism" and "modernisation" has for centuries aimed at destroying it irretrievably. However, pharmaceutical corporations and agribusiness have recently discovered the value and potential of traditional knowledge, and are stealing, patenting and commodifying it for their own gain and profit. Capital-intensive technology is designed, promoted, commercialised and imposed to serve the process of capitalist globalisation. Since the use of technologies has a very important influence on social and individual life, peoples should have a free choice of, access to and control over technologies. Only those technologies which can be managed, operated and controlled by local peoples should be considered valid. Also, control of the way technology is designed and produced, its scopes and finalities, should be inspired by human principles of solidarity, mutual co-operation and common sense. Today, the principles underlying production of technology are exactly the opposite: profit, competition, and the deliberate production of obsolescence. Empowerment passes through people's control over the use and production of technology.

Education and youth

The content of the present education system is more and more conditioned by the demands of production as dictated by corporations. The interests and requirements of economic globalisation are leading to a growing commodification of education. The diminishing public budgets in education are encouraging the development of private schools and universities, while the labour conditions of people working in the public education sector are being eroded by austerity and Structural Adjustment Programs. Increasingly, learning is becoming a process that intensifies inequalities in societies. Even the public education system, and most of all the university, is becoming inaccessible for wide sectors of societies. The learning of humanities (history, philosophy, etc.) and the development of critical thinking is being discouraged in favour of an education subservient to the interests of the globalisation process, where competitive values are predominant. Students increasingly spend more time in learning how to compete with each other, rather than enhancing personal growth and building critical skills and the potential to transform society.

Education as a tool for social change requires confrontational academics and critical educators for all educational systems. Community-based education can provoke learning processes within social movements. The right to information is essential for the work of social movements. Limited and unequal access to language skills, especially for women, hinders participation in political activity with other peoples. Building these tools is a way to reinforce and rebuild human values. Yet formal education is increasingly being commercialised as a vehicle for the market place. This is done by corporate investment in research and by the promotion of knowledge geared toward skills needed for the market. The domination of mass media should be dissolved and the right to reproduce our own knowledges and cultures must be supported.

However, for many children throughout the world, the commodification of education is not an issue, since they are themselves being commodified as sexual objects and exploited labour, and suffering inhuman levels of violence. Economic globalisation is at the root of the daily nightmare of increasing numbers of exploited children. Their fate is the most horrible consequence of the misery generated by the global market.


Globalisation is aggravating complex and growing crises that give rise to widespread tensions and conflicts. The need to deal with this increasing disorder is intensifying militarisation and repression (more police, arrests, jails, prisoners) in our societies. Military institutions, such as U.S.-dominated NATO, organising the other powers of the North, are among the main instruments upholding this unequal world order. Mandatory conscription in many countries indoctrinates young people in order to legitimate militarism. Similarly, the mass media and corporate culture glorify the military and exalt the use of violence. There is also, behind facades of democratic structures, an increasing militarisation of the nation-state, which in many countries makes use of faceless paramilitary groups to enforce the interests of capital.

At the same time, the military-industrial complex, one of the main pillars of the global economic system, is increasingly controlled by huge private corporations. The WTO formally leaves defence matters to states, but the military sector is also affected by the drive for private profit.

We call for the dismantling of nuclear and all other weapons of mass destruction. The World Court of The Hague has recently declared that nuclear weapons violate international law and has called all the nuclear-weapons countries to agree to dismantle them. This means that the strategy of NATO, based on the possible use of nuclear weapons, amounts to a crime against humanity.

Migration and discrimination

The neo-liberal regime provides freedom for the movement of capital, while denying freedom of movement to human beings. Legal barriers to migration are being constantly reinforced at the same time that massive destruction of livelihoods and concentration of wealth in privileged countries uproot millions of people, forcing them to seek work far from their homes. Migrants are thus in more and more precarious and often illegal situations, even easier targets for their exploiters. They are then made scapegoats, against whom right wing politicians encourage the local population to vent their frustrations. Solidarity with migrants is more important than ever. There are no illegal humans, only inhuman laws.

Racism, xenophobia, the caste system and religious bigotry are used to divide us and must be resisted on all fronts. We celebrate our diversity of cultures and communities, and place none above the other

* * *

The WTO, the IMF, the World Bank, and other institutions that promote globalisation and liberalisation want us to believe in the beneficial effects of global competition. Their agreements and policies constitute direct violations of basic human rights (including civil, political, economic, social, labour and cultural rights) which are codified in international law and many national constitutions, and ingrained in people's understandings of human dignity. We have had enough of their inhuman policies. We reject the principle of competitiveness as solution for peoples' problems. It only leads to the destruction of small producers and local economies. Neo-liberalism is the real enemy of economic freedom.


Capitalism has slipped the fragile leash won through centuries of struggles in national contexts. It is keeping alive the nation-state only for the purposes of peoples' control and repression, while creating a new transnational regulatory system to facilitate its global operation. We cannot confront transnational capitalism with the traditional tools used in the national context. In this new, globalised world we need to invent new forms of struggle and solidarity, new objectives and strategies in our political work. We have to join forces to create diverse spaces of co-operation, equality, dignity, justice and freedom at a human scale, while attacking national and transnational capital, and the agreements and institutions that it creates to assert its power.

There are many diverse ways of resistance against capitalist globalisation and its consequences. At an individual level, we need to transform our daily lives, freeing ourselves from market laws and the pursuit of private profit. At the collective level, we need to develop a diversity of forms of organisation at different levels, acknowledging that there is not a single way of solving the problems we are facing. Such organisations have to be independent of governmental structures and economic powers, and based on direct democracy. These new forms of autonomous organisation should emerge from and be rooted in local communities, while at the same time practising international solidarity, building bridges to connect different social sectors, peoples and organisations that are already fighting globalisation across the world.

These tools for co-ordination and empowerment provide spaces for putting into practice a diversity of local, small-scale strategies developed by peoples all over the world in the last decades, with the aim of delinking their communities, neighbourhoods or small collectives from the global market. Direct links between producers and consumers in both rural and urban areas, local currencies, interest-free credit schemes and similar instruments are the building blocks for the creation of local, sustainable, and self-reliant economies based on co-operation and solidarity rather than competition and profit. While the global financial casino heads at increasing speed towards social and environmental disintegration and economic breakdown, we the peoples will reconstruct sustainable livelihoods. Our means and inspiration will emanate from peoples' knowledge and technology, squatted houses and fields, a strong and lively cultural diversity and a very clear determination to actively disobey and disrespect all the treaties and institutions at the root of misery.

In the context of governments all over the world acting as the creatures and tools of capitalist powers and implementing neo-liberal policies without debate among their own peoples or their elected representatives, the only alternative left for the people is to destroy these trade agreements and restore for themselves a life with direct democracy, free from coercion, domination and exploitation. Direct democratic action, which carries with it the essence of non-violent civil disobedience to the unjust system, is hence the only possible way to stop the mischief of corporate state power. It also has the essential element of immediacy. However we do not pass a judgement on the use of other forms of action under certain circumstances.

The need has become urgent for concerted action to dismantle the illegitimate world governing system which combines transnational capital, nation-states, international financial institutions and trade agreements. Only a global alliance of peoples' movements, respecting autonomy and facilitating action-oriented resistance, can defeat this emerging globalised monster. If impoverishment of populations is the agenda of neo-liberalism, direct empowerment of the peoples though constructive direct action and civil disobedience will be the programme of the Peoples' Global Action against "Free" Trade and the WTO.

We assert our will to struggle as peoples against all forms of oppression. But we do not only fight the wrongs imposed on us. We are also committed to building a new world. We are together as human beings and communities, our unity deeply rooted in diversity. Together we shape a vision of a just world and begin to build that true prosperity which comes from human empowerment, natural bounty, diversity, dignity and freedom.

Geneva, February-March 1998

A2. Organisational principles of the PGA
Cochabamba 2001 !

  1. The PGA is an instrument for co-ordination, not an organisation. Its main objectives are:
    1. Inspiring the greatest possible number of persons and organisations to act against "free" trade 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 fighting "free" trade
    3. Giving more international projection to the struggles against "free" trade and the WTO

  2. The organisational philosophy of the PGA is based on decentralisation and autonomy. Hence, central structures are minimal.
  3. The PGA has no membership.
  4. The PGA does not have and will not have a juridical personality. It will not be legalised or registered in any country. No organisation or person represents the PGA, nor does the PGA represent any organisation or person.
  5. There will be conferences of the PGA approximately every two years. These conferences will take place about three months before the WTO Ministerial Conferences. The functions of these conferences will be:
    1. Updating the manifesto (if necessary)
    2. Advancing in the process of co-ordination at global level of the resistance against "free" trade
    3. Co-ordinating decentralised actions parallel to the following WTO Ministerial Conference

  6. The conferences of the PGA will be convened by a Convenors' Committee conformed by representative organisations and movements. The composition of this committee must show a regional balance, and a balance regarding the areas of work of the organisations and movements that conform it. The local organisers will be part of the committee.

    This committee will fulfil the following tasks:
    1. Determining the programme of the conference
    2. Deciding which organisations can send delegates to the conference
    3. Deciding about the use of resources; especially, deciding which organisations will receive help to pay the travel expenses to attend the conference
    4. Advising the local organisers in technical and organisational questions
    5. Interpreting the manifesto if this would be necessary, deciding which publications can be printed under the name of the PGA, and deciding about the content of the information tools of the PGA (see point 7)

    The committee cannot speak in the name of the PGA.
    In each conference of the PGA the Convenors' Committee of the next conference will be elected. The Convenors' Committee must change 100% of its membership in each conference. The old Convenors' Committee will choose a small group that will act as advisers of the new committee. This advisory group will not have decision-making power.
  8. The PGA should have several information tools, including a regular bulletin, a web page and other publications, which will be done voluntarily by organisations and individuals supportive of the aims of the PGA. Their elaboration will take place in a decentralised and rotative manner.
    Before these informative materials appear under the name of the PGA, their contents have to be revised by the Convenors' Committee (including the modifications of the web page). The committee can make the publication of these materials conditional on the modification or removal of part of its contents, if these are in conflict with the manifesto of the PGA.
  9. The PGA will not have any resources. The funds needed to pay the conferences and the information tools will have to be raised in a decentralised way. All the funds raised for the conference will be administered by the Convenors' Committee. The publications will have to be self-financed. The bulletin will be distributed by a network of organisations which will also be responsible for collecting subscription fees. Any surplus produced by the subscriptions will be used to send the bulletin to organisations that cannot afford paying subscription.
  10. The PGA has a rotative secretariat, which changes every year. Each Convenors' Committee will decide where the secretariats will be during their two-years term.
  11. The conferences of the PGA will not include the discussion of these organisational principles in the programme. If there is a concrete request, a discussion group on organisational questions will be formed. This discussion group will meet parallel to the programme of the conference, to elaborate concrete modification proposals which shall be voted upon in the plenary.
  12. The PGA hopes that it will inspire the creation of different platforms (both regional and issue-based) against "free" trade and the different institutions that promote it. There will not be, however, a relationship of pertenence between these platforms and the PGA. The platforms will hence be completely autonomous.

2nd PGA Conference Bangalore | PGA Encuentros | PGA