Protest letter to Argentine government on decision to deny accreditation to WTO Ministerial

Eng. Mauricio Macri
President of the Nation

We received today, with extreme concern, information from the offices of the World Trade Organization in Geneva, advising that the Argentine government has decided to deny the accreditation for the upcoming WTO Ministerial Conference, to be held in Buenos Aires, of a substantial number of local and international civil society delegates, who had been accredited by the WTO in an opportune manner. This same information strongly suggests to these delegates that they not travel to Buenos Aires, as it is likely they would be denied entry into the country.

We have also learned with extreme concern, of the decisions by your government to deny visas to people duly accredited by the WTO, and in other cases, to be delaying or unnecessarily complicating the processing of the same, either to participate in the Ministerial Conference or in related activities.

We reject these unilateral and authoritarian measures that violate fundamental rights of the individuals and organizations involved, curtailing democratic participation in an arena in which matters of global concern that affect all of society are to be discussed. They only serve to show the world that your government has nothing but contempt for the rule of law, human rights and democratic coexistence. According to the information received, your government has alleged motives of “security”, without further explanation, in what can clearly be interpreted as an attempt to prevent the participation of voices that are critical of the policies that your government and others seek to advance in the context of this Ministerial.  Matters which themselves have been negotiated totally in secret, such as the possible signing of a poorly-named “free trade” agreement between the European Union and Mercosur, or the surrendering of sovereignty and control over areas of strategic importance such as government purchasing, agroecology, finances, and the electronic commercialization of personal data.

These decisions, furthermore, are unheard of.  In more than 20 years of WTO existence, no host government has ever taken decisions of this nature and breadth. Many of the organizations and delegates whose accreditation is now being denied have participated actively in Ministerial Conferences and other institutional arenas of the WTO since its very creation. They have also participated in parallel spaces of discussion and mobilization, in different countries the world over, such as in this occasion, the Week of Action WTO Out! and the Peoples´ Summit Building Sovereignty. Among them, we could mention the International Confederation of Trade Unions (ICTU), UNI, the Via Campesina, Friends of the Earth International, the Transnational Institute, and the Global Justice Network.

The attitude of your government contravenes regular diplomatic practice for the international conferences of multilateral organisms.  In offering to host the MC11, the government of Argentina has agreed to allow the participation of the full complement of participants registered by the international organization in the meeting – including country delegates, media, non-governmental organizations, and others. It is inadmissible that the Argentine Government now assumes the power to decide who can or cannot participate in the WTO meeting, ignoring the decades of precedents and the official mechanism established by the WTO and agreed by Argentina as the host country for this purpose.

We point out, furthermore, that this curtailing of the presence and participation of civil society calls into serious doubt the capacity of the Argentine Republic to take on, in addition, the G20 presidency, in particular when the whole world is aware of the context of social conflict and repression that the policies of your government are generating.  In addition to the actions informed by the WTO and social organizations from around the world, there is the assassination of Rafael Nahuel just days ago, the disappearance followed by death of Santiago Maldonado, the persecution of indigenous communities and the militarization of the territories where the upcoming activities of both the G20 and the WTO will take place. Caravans of National Guard troops have been mobilized over recent days toward the Andean district and oppressive measures of exclusion and control are announced for the time of the Ministerial in Buenos Aires.

We call on your government to reverse these measures immediately and to comply with its human rights obligations as well as those of citizen participation, converting to reality the transparency it proclaims. We ask the Director General of the World Trade Organization to cancel the Ministerial Conference, and move it to another country, if this extremely serious and problematic situation is not promptly resolved.

-Buenos Aires, November 30, 2017

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel    Nora Cortiñas  Mirta Baravalle    Beverly Keene   Coord. Ncl.
  Nobel Peace Laureate           Mothers of May Square-F.L.                  Coordinator            SERPAJ

cc. Ambassador  Jorge Marcelo Faurie, Minister of Foreign Relations and Worship

cc. Mrs. Patricia Bullrich, Minister of Security

cc. Ambassador Susana Malcorra, President of the WTO Ministerial Conference 11

cc. Ambassador Roberto Azevêdo, Director General of the WTO