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From Gas Masks to Chocolate Fountains:The Emerging Influence of NGOs in the WTO and the Implications for Global Trade Governance

Full report, Amy Herrick, Ciel Grossmann, Ting Shao

enero 2006

While much has been written about NGOs and their assumed impact on WTO negotiations from Seattle to Hong Kong, little has been written about what has actually happened as a result of their presence in recent negotiations. However, the process of integration by NGOs into the international trading system has become a central question for many concerned actors. Non-governmental organizations have begun to work from inside trade negotiations using a variety of tactics: both in coalitions among themselves and with/through member States. From shouting slogans to helping draft States’ negotiating strategies, NGO influence is at once seen and unseen, heard and unheard. The unique aspects of the WTO as an organization centered on its member states, coupled with the high stakes for African countries in the most recent trade round, has provided fertile ground for building new alliances and transforming « behind the scenes » governance. This paper contends that while WTO negotiations formally only include States (and the influence of markets), NGOs, as both « insiders » and « outsiders » in the decision-making process significantly influence and, therefore, represent a fundamental shift in the process of trade governance. The case study chosen for this paper is the Sectoral Initiative on Cotton, driven by the West African cotton producing countries.


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