1st Conference of the Peoples' Global Action against "Free" Trade and the WTO
Conference secretariat: AMP c/o IAS. 5, rue Samuel-Constant. CH - 1201
Genève, Switzerland

Geneva, 12.2.98
Dear Friends,

We do not know if you have applied to come to the First PGA Conference and roundtables from February 18 to 27, 1998, in Geneva, but if you want to participate, it is confirmed that you can. Here you will find some practical information to make your arrival and stay easier, and to help you preparing for the conference.

Preparation for the conference:

Please bring the following with you:


You will have free access to electronic mail, but not to telephone or fax, so try to arrange to be able to communicate with your country in this manner.

Venues and orientation:

Participation fee

The participation fee for delegates from your country amounts to a minimum of 225 Swiss Francs (equivalent to 150US$) which covers the expenses of accommodation and food during your stay, no matter whether you come for only one day or for the whole period of 18-27 February). If you have trouble paying this, please contact us. We are looking forward to meeting you soon and we will be waiting for the confirmation of your itinerary and time of arrival in Geneva. Please use the following form to send us this information. Also, do let us know if, for any reason, you cannot participate in the Conference.

In solidarity,

The PGA Secretariat

Appendices:	(1. Confirmation of participation form)
		2. Detailed programme of the Conference (23-25 Februay)
		3. Roundtables and evening activities
		4. Organisational principles of PGA
		5. Bulletin, database and publications

Appendix 2: Detailed programme of the Conference (23-25 February)

Monday the 23rd - Manifesto
9.00 - 10.00 Plenary: Welcome and presentation
10.00 - 13.00 Work in small topic-related groups (1) on the manifesto
13.00 - 14:30 Lunch
14:30 - 18:30 Work in small topic-related groups on the manifesto
18:30 - 20.00 Dinner
20:00 Cultural programme. Parallel meeting of the Convenors' Committee and group reporters on the manifesto

(1) Topic-related groups: a) peasants; b) indigenous peoples; c) trade unions; d) women; e) youth; f) unemployed; g) migrants; h) environment; i) housing; j) culture; k) health; l) students

Monday will be devoted to the discussion of the manifesto (the ideological and programmatic basis of the PGA). The final version of the manifesto will be ready by Tuesday morning, with the aim of sending it by electronic mail (and fax in exceptional cases) to the organisations that could not attend the conference (and also to the offices of some organisations present in the conference), so that it can be signed by them before the afternoon of the 25th.

The conference will start with a welcome plenary. Next, the participants will split in topic-based groups to discuss the draft of the manifesto. (The list of topic-related groups is only provisional and might be changed). These groups will continue their work after lunch until max. 18.30, and at that time they should have produced a single document with amendments for the manifesto. In these groups there will not be facilities for simultaneous translation; translations will hence take a substantial amount of time.

At 18.30, the Convenors' Committee will meet with the group reporters and will write the final version of the manifesto, based on the initial draft and the amendments proposed by the topic-related groups. While they work, the rest of the delegates will enjoy a cultural programme which will feature the cultural diversity represented in the conference. All delegates are asked to prepare small activities for this evening.

Tuesday the 24th - Co-ordination of actions
9.00 - 10:30 Plenary: presentation of the manifesto
10:30 - 13.00 Work in small topic-related groups on actions
13.00 - 14:30 Lunch
14:30 - 16:30 Work in small regional groups (2) on the actions
17.00 - 19.00 Forum 1
19:30-21:30 Forum 2
21:30 Dinner. Meeting of the CC and group reporters to establish the new CC and the press team to cover the Ministerial Conference

(2) The division of the regional groups is not done yet; it will depend on the amount of Southern delegates present a the conference (which will depend on the amount of funds that we can raise for travel expenses)

Tuesday will start with a plenary in which the definitive version of the manifesto will be presented (already translated). Since all organisations present at the conference are convened on the basis of consensus on the four points of departure of the PGA, and since only amendments put forward by topic-based groups will be accepted (not those put forward by individuals), the manifesto presented on Tuesday morning will already be a consensus document, and it will be approved by acclamation. The manifesto will be ready to be signed (both by present and absent organisations) on Tuesday at 10.30.

The rest of the day will be devoted to three objectives:

(a) The co-ordination of protest actions during the Ministerial Conference (May 18-20). This co-ordination will take place in a decentralised way, in small working groups where the delegates will present their plans and ideas, and will discuss possibilities for co-ordination. These groups will meet in short intervals (2 to 2.30 hours), since their objective is not to discuss detailed plans, but to facilitate the greatest possible amount of contacts and exchange, and initiating processes of co-ordination. The first session of exchange will take place in topic-related groups, the second in geographically divided groups, and the last two will take place in groups formed according to criteria proposed by the participants. For example, an organisation working against McDonalds can propose a group on this topic, another organisation focused on APEC can do the same, a third one fighting patents on life too, etc. Since there are two time slices devoted to these fora, we expect that in each time slice there will not be too many working groups.

(b) The nomination of candidates for the press team that will cover the WTO Ministerial Conference in May. During this Ministerial Conference, besides the decentralised press work that will operate in the whole world, there will be a ad-hoc press team. This team will, on behalf of the PGA, pass information constantly to the international press accredited for the Ministerial Conference in Geneva of all the protest actions taking place in the whole world. This press team should be representative of the contents of the manifesto, and its composition should show a balanced representation of all social sectors present in our conference, of all regions of the world, and a gender balance. The mechanism that will be used to select this group will be the following: each topic-related group and each geographic group will be asked to nominate three or four people for this team, which should be equally valid for the group (since they will not be all in the press group). On Tuesday, after dinner, the Convenors' Committee will meet with group reporters in order to select, among the persons proposed by all groups, a press team that shows the three mentioned balance criteria: topic-related, geographic and gender.

(c) The nomination of candidates for the new convenors' committee (which will convene the second conference of the PGA). As you will see in the organisational principles below, there will be PGA conferences every two years (the same periodicity than the Ministerial Conferences of the WTO), more or less three months before the Ministerial Conferences. The convenors' committee of the next conference will be elected in this one. To this end, the same mechanism will be used than for the election of the press team, with one exception: while the topic-related and geographic groups will be asked to propose individual persons for the press group (since the personal skills will be one of the criteria to take into account), for the next convenors' committee (CC) they will be asked to propose organisations. The organisations which form the current CC will not be able to join the next CC.

After dinner, the CC will meet with group reporters to select the members of the press team and the organisations of the new convenors' committee from the proposals put forward by the groups. To this end, the majority of the candidates will have to be eliminated in order to end up with a relatively reduced press group and CC, which anyhow are representative and balanced. It will not be possible to add names to the lists put forward by the groups. Since the groups will be asked to propose candidates and organisations with the same value (i.e. not ranked), the selection done on Tuesday evening should be acceptable to everybody.

Wednesday the 25th - Information network
9-10 Plenary: presentation of the new CC and the press team
10-12:30 Discussion about the information & press network in regional groups
12:30-13 Conclusion plenary
13-14:30 Lunch
afternoon: public demonstration
evening: party

Wednesday will start with a plenary in which the press group and the next CC will be presented. Next, the participants will split in geographic groups in order to advance in the construction of an international decentralised information network. This network, besides doing the preparatory work towards and the coverage of the Ministerial Conference, will remain in place after May 98 in order to give the greatest international projection to the work and actions of grassroots movements. The network should ensure at least the following functions in each of the regions (see also appendix 4):

As you can see in appendixes 3 and 4, there will be no central money for any of these tasks. The translation work will have to be done on voluntary basis; the copying and surface mailing of the bulletins and of informations from the database will also be done voluntarily by the senders and paid by the recipients. Hence, all the participants should have a clear idea of to what extend they and their organisations want to commit themselves to any of these tasks. Noone needs to make a long-term commitment; translating one or two issues of the bulletin is already a good contribution. The aim of the session from 10 to 12.30 is to produce enough commitments to translate and distribute for each region to cover the period from March 1998 to March 2000.

There will be a closing plenary just before lunch where the basics of the information and press network will be presented. In the afternoon there will be a presentation, and in the evening a big party.

Appendix 3: Roundtables and evening activities

The roundtables will consist of two parts: four days of information exchange and discussion (18-21 Feb) and one day for planning (26 Feb), divided by the PGA conference which will set up a general coordination framework for all the roundtables. They will take place during the day, from 9.00 to 18.00, but the fact that they will all be translated sequentially (at least) into Spanish means that the real time available will be half of their duration. Each day the roundtables will be followed by a programme of evening activities ranging from panel discussions to concerts and films.

Common objectives of all the roundtables:

For the information and discussion part (18-21 Feb):

For the planning part (26 Feb):


1. Corporate Power: The political role of industry lobbies.
This roundtable will be devoted to the role and impact of the most important international industry lobbies, with special stress on their influence in shaping the international agenda on trade and investment policy. Case studies will include the role of industry on the negotiation process of the MAI, the influence of the European Roundtable of Industrialists (ERT) and other industry lobbies in the construction of the Single Market and the shaping of the EU infrastructure programmes, the role of industry in the climate negotiations, etc. The roundtable will be facilitated by Corporate Observatory Europe (CEO)

2. Gender
This roundtable will be aimed at incorporating a strong gender dimension in all the work and documents of the PGA, analysing patriarchy and economics from different feminist perspectives (incorporating the issue of sexual diversity within the discussion), strengthening the work on gender in mixed groups by creating a specific space for it at international level, and creating an international information exchange network to this end. The range of topics discussed will cover from violence against women to food security and gender, through indigenous women and gender and affectivity. This roundtable is being organised by Play Fair Europe! Amsterdam (pfe@xs4all.nl)

3. The people(s) vs. the global market: strategies of resistance and change
This roundtable will analyse the strategies applied by different social actors (most notably big union structures and NGOs) to counter or reduce the impact of trade and investment liberalisation in terms of their effectiveness and drawbacks. The main object of debate will be the proposals for social and environmental clauses within international trade and investment agreements (most notably the WTO and the Multilateral Agreement on Investment), but the scope of the discussion will be broader than this: the roundtable aims to question the effectiveness of lobbying strategies within the realm of trade and investment relations, and to advance in the strengthening of confrontational NVDA (non-violent direct action) and civil disobedience as the only forms of action able to provoke a change of trend in the global economy before it is too late. This roundtable is being organised by people from the Geneva hosting committee and Play Fair Europe! Oviedo.

4. Culture, media and education.
Domination and resistance. This roundtable will deal with the psicological and cultural dimensions of corporate rule. Several groups will be involved in the preparation of the programme, which will be rather flexible and discussion-oriented. This roundtable is being prepared by different groups in Geneva.

5. Agriculture and peasantry
At the time being we have received no concrete information about this roundtable. However, it will take place, organised by the peasant movement of the Philippines (KMP)

6. Indigenous Peoples
This roundtable will offer a space for all indigenous representatives and other delegates interested in their situation to exchange information, deepen their relationship and strategize for the future. A special topic will be the impact of patents on life on indigenous peoples and the revision of the TRIPs agreement in 1999. This roundtable is being prepared by different organisations in Geneva.

Objectives of the evening activities:

All the evening activities will last for about 2 hours, including debate and translation. They will all take place from the 18th to the 21st, on the same days than the roundtables but at different times. There will be more than one speaker for each activity.

Evening activities planned so far (there might still be changes):

Appendix 4
Organisational principles of the Peoples' Global Action against "Free Trade" and the WTO (PGA)

changed at the 3rd PGA Conference in Cochabamba

  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 ist 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.


Appendix 5: Bulletin, database and publications

The PGA bulletin is the main instrument for information exchange of the Peoples' Global Action. So far, only issue #0 has come out, since the bulletin will only start after the PGA is launched at the first conference. If you did not have access to issue #0, please visit http://www.agp.org or get in touch with playfair<a>asta.rwth-aachen.de

The next issues will be very different than issue #0: they will not be written by the convenors, but by movements from the whole world, and they will rarely include long articles. The PGA bulletin will consist of brief announcements (maximum 150 words) submitted by any organisation (or person) that shares the objectives of the PGA and has something to communicate about its activities. Each announcement should have a contact address for those who want more information, and a key indicating the languages in which it is possible to communicate with that organisation or person. The bulletin will also have a calendar of actions and events at the end. From time to time there will also be articles edited by the committee relating to PGA projects, like the actions against the 2nd Ministerial Conference of the WTO. The bulletin will come out once a month (starting March 1998), at least in English, Spanish and French, in electronic form and in paper.

In order to avoid the bulletin being abused, the Convenors' Committee will control its contents before it goes out to the world. The committee will not change the content of the announcements, but it can stop them being included in the bulletin if it considers that the organisation submitting it does not share the values reflected in the manifesto of the PGA (e.g. right-wing organisations) or that the announcement is not serious. To ensure that this checking has enough time, all contributions for the bulletin will have to be sent before the last week of the month, if possible at least in English, Spanish and French.

Each month, a different organisation will do the bulletin and layout the paper version. They will not be in a position to change the announcements or to include anything without the consent of the committee; they will only put together the announcements, produce an index, update the calendar of actions and events, and layout the bulletin. This work will be done voluntarily, so please let us know if you think that you can take care of an issue.

The bulletin will be distributed by electronic mail, and also by post (to persons and organisations without access to e-mail). There will be a network of organisations or persons (hopefully at least one in each country) that will copy and send the bulletin locally. They will also collect the subscription fee locally. This fee should only cover copying and postage costs - which should be minimal thanks to the decentralised distribution.

Besides the monthly bulletin, there will be an urgent action e-mail list (controlled by the convenors' committee) to act on very pressing issues that cannot wait until the next issue of the bulletin.

The database will consist of texts and bibliographic references on "free" trade, and peoples' movements. It will be accessible through internet, at http://www.agp.org. Each entry of the database will be described by a number of keywords and a short text. The list of key words will describe different characteristics of the entry, like what kind of text it is, what topic(s) it covers, which region(s) it refers to, what kind of movement or social group it is focused on, etc. The keywords will help users make queries on the database: after sending a query, the database will answer giving a list of the texts and references that match. People without access to internet will have access to the list of keywords, so that they can ask some other organisation to do queries and additions for them, using the network for the distribution of the bulletin.

The web-page will not only give access to the available entries; it will also enable the addition of more entries to the database (once the addition has been checked and okayed by the Convenors' Committee). The database might eventually include short sections of videos filmed by organisations all over the world, with contact information to receive the whole video. These sections of videos will also be accessible through internet.

Besides the database, we are working on the production of a collective book with short case studies reflecting the daily experiences of people suffering and resisting the effects of the "free" trade policies imposed by institutions like the WTO. It will also include concrete examples of actions that everybody can take against "free" trade and the institutions that foster it, and give brief, simple descriptions of the main players in the globalisation process. The book will be edited by a group of volunteers and checked by the convenors' committee.

As proceedings of the roundtables, we hope to edit a number of leaflets or booklets with information about the impact of "free" trade in different sectors (indigenous peoples, farmers, industrial workers, fisherfolk...) and domains (culture, gender relations, democracy, human rights, etc). These materials should be appropriate to use them for grassroots activism.

Play Fair Europe! Oviedo	Tel/fax +34-8-524.11.21
Pedro Masaveu 1 10 E		playfair@asta.rwth-aachen.de
33007 Oviedo, Spain		check http://www.agp.org

PGA Bulletin #1