World Bank Cancels Academic Meeting In Spain

from the worldbanksite

World Bank Cancels Academic Meeting In Spain
Plans being made for on-line discussion instead

PARIS, May 19, 2001. The World Bank announced today the cancellation of its 2001 Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics (ABCDE) in Europe, originally slated to be held in Barcelona on June 25-27.

Explaining the decision, World Bank spokeswoman Caroline Anstey said, "A conference on poverty reduction should take place in a peaceful atmosphere free from heckling, violence and intimidation. Despite our efforts to reach out to some of the groups planning demonstrations, and to include them in the conference, the intention of many of the groups who plan to converge on Barcelona is not to join the debate or to contribute constructively to the discussion, but to disrupt it. We do not want to expose academics from around the world and our hosts in Spain to such a situation." Particularly, she said, "It is time to take a stand against this kind of threat to free discussion."

Ms. Anstey said that the Bank had full confidence in the ability and commitment of the Spanish authorities to ensure the logistics of the conference and the safety of the participants. However, the disruption for the people of Barcelona and the risks and hazards involved, were too high a price for this exchange, which could instead be conducted by other means, she said.

" Years ago people used to burn books to try and clamp down on academic freedom - now they try to prevent academics from reaching debating halls. This is hardly progress. Fortunately the internet means that academic debates can now take place on line." Papers prepared for the conference will be posted on the conference web site and plans are being made for an on-line discussion, she said.

Nicholas Stern, World Bank Chief Economist and Senior Vice President for Development Economics, said that the Bank had tried to include many of the groups working against the conference in its discussions. "The subjects reflect our concern that globalization should be managed so that poor people can participate and benefit. The speakers and participants all have extensive experience and understanding to share on these topics. It is a pity that our more outspoken critics chose not to engage in a dialogue" he said.

The World Bank conveyed its gratitude to the Spanish Ministry of Economy for supporting the event, and to the Generalitat of Catalunya and the City of Barcelona for welcoming it.

Although the ABCDE Europe is a small conference of a few hundred academics, it has also drawn representatives from civil society and government. The previous two ABCDE Europe conferences were hosted by the French Government in Paris. An ABCDE conference is also held annually in Washington. Last month's Washington conference, which focused on health and poverty, proceeded without incident.

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Call for increased mobilisation to Barcelona
Sun, 20 May 2001

Call from some international supporters for increased mobilisation to Barcelona this June

Dear friends,
The decision by the World Bank to cancel their Barcelona meeting in June has been hailed by some as a victory for the anti-capitalist movement and other struggles in the Spanish State. It is true that a few years ago such a consequence resulting from our threat to mobilise would have been unimaginable, their retreat is testament to the growth and vibrancy of our movement. However, the true significance of our opposition to the institutions of global capitalism is not in our effect on their meetings but in the promise of a brighter future that is born of our international solidarity and our mass gatherings which have combined frustration with creativity. If this global wave of constructive anger can be diverted or weakened by the abandonment of one of their meetings then it is doomed to be no more than a protest movement, able to criticise capitalism but unable to deliver an alternative. If our activities in June are decreased as a consequence of the World Bank's strategy then this will have been a victory, not just for the World Bank, but for systems of exploitation the world over.

The World Bank will make the same decisions online as they would have at a physical meeting, and, even if the whole institution was abandoned, capitalism would continue regardless. Capitalism isn't manifest only in a conference hall or an international treaty, it's in their jails, in your wage packet, in the air we breathe. Their meetings have never been that important, it has been our resistance that has mattered all along.

June the 25th is the single most important date our movement has ever faced. If you will excuse the militaristic metaphor, when the enemy is on the run should you hang back or pursue them relentlessly? In Barcelona we have the chance to prove to ourselves and to others that we are more than a protest movement, that we are capable of taking on the authority of the state and building a revolutionary, emancipatory alternative. Let us gather in Barcelona in unprecedented numbers, to protest against global capitalism, yes, but much more than that, to rise up against the Spanish State, against the very idea of wage labour and against our daily exploitation and oppression. Let us take control of the streets of Barcelona in a massive celebration of our ability to build a society based on freedom, co-operation and solidarity.
Not a protest; an insurrection!

We are a small group of Anarchist workers, employed in the fast food industry, and based in the UK, who, on hearing news of the World Bank's cancellation, determined that we would definitely travel to Barcelona. We made this decision because we believe a manifestation of the sort described above would be more radical and constructive than protesting at any number of meetings.

We seek urgent confirmation from our comrades in the Spanish State and around the world that the preparations and mobilisations for Barcelona continue not weakened but intensified.

J25 is time for the real anti-capitalist movement to stand up,

In solidarity,


Pictures | Actions 2001 |