Greenpeace calls for greening of GATT
THE HAGUE — As representatives from the US and the European Union met here to begin a round table on environment and trade, Greenpeace on January 27 called on delegates to green the Global Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) before it is too late.
"The outcome of the Uruguay round could have a devastating effect on the environment and on global equality if it is allowed to run roughshod over the objective of sustainable development", said Greenpeace's Sabina Voogd.
In a recent meeting, European Commissioner Leon Brittan stated that it is necessary for the European Parliament to ratify the GATT accord before it goes into effect. Greenpeace called for national parliaments to be given the same right.
"Until now, discussions on the fate of GATT have involved only a handful of powerful negotiators", Voogd said. "This agreement could affect all of us and our environment, and the public as well as governments must have a say."
Greenpeace said environmental protection must be the overriding objective of trade rules under GATT and called on the future World Trade Organisation to commit to sustainable development.
Signatories of trade agreements must always have the right to take suitable measures to protect the environment, Greenpeace said, even if they go further than internationally harmonised norms.
The European Parliament is expected to vote on GATT before the elections in June. Greenpeace will continue to lobby before the vote to ensure that environmental protection, and not profit alone, will be considered during the process.