From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Churches launch campaign for "Trade for people, not people for trade"

From "WCC Media" <>
Date Thu, 12 Dec 2002 11:55:53 +0100

World Council of Churches
Update UP-02-35
For Immediate Use
12 December 2002

Churches launch campaign for "Trade for people, not people for trade"

Cf. WCC Press Release, PR-02-33, of 9 December 2002 

The right to food, health, education, work and an adequate standard of living
are part of the internationally recognized framework of human rights
standards. That makes them a legal obligation rather than just a policy
option. A global campaign launched 10 December by the Geneva-based Ecumenical
Advocacy Alliance (EAA) argues that the universality of these obligations
fundamentally challenges notions of competition and efficiency, which accept
that, in the global marketplace, some people and communities may lose these
basic entitlements.

Launched in Geneva, Switzerland on World Human Rights Day, the three-year
campaign wants to ensure that international human rights, social and
environmental agreements take precedence over trade agreements and policies.
Or, as its slogan says, that trade is for people, not people for trade.

The EAA is a global network of more than 85 churches, development agencies,
and related organizations on all continents, including the World YWCA, the
World Council of Churches, Bread for the World, and many others. It
represents a constituency of hundreds of millions of people. "As
institutions, and as members of civil society, we believe we have both the
obligation and the power to speak for justice and change the rules of global
trade," considers EAA board member Dr Musimbi Kanyoro. 

Speaking at a press briefing on the campaign, Kanyoro, who is secretary
general of the World Young Womens Christian Association (YWCA), argued that
economic injustice, spearheaded by "trade rules that are not fair and don't
put people first", are "brutally ripping the global community apart".

Why churches?
In answer to the question "Why are the churches taking up the issue of
trade?" Prof. Dr Christoph St|ckelberger of the EAA's trade strategy group
told journalists that it is "because the biblical standards for economics,
including the trade of goods and services, are justice and taking the side of
the poor".

"This vision," said St|ckelberger, "should not be reduced to mere equality of
opportunity for all to compete without hindrance. That has only helped those
who already have access to political and economic power to gain more power
and a greater share of the world's resources, and to create power elites that
suppress others."

The campaign acknowledges that "trade is a basic social activity", and that
it "can contribute to the common good". But it argues that "trade on unequal
terms is damaging, creates and maintains inequities, and can lead to
violence, conflict and environmental destruction".  It holds that "trade
should be a means to share the bounty of the earth and the fruits of human
labour, yet too often is a force that causes poverty, despair, injustice and

Campaign plan
The campaign will advocate for trade rules and policies that recognize the
right to food, ensure sustainable agriculture, promote greater self-reliance
in developing countries, guarantee access for all to essential services, and
allow for regulation of transnational corporations. 
Its action plan covers:
* mass mobilization, including use of a global petition;
* local advocacy initiatives; and
* lobbying with international institutions by experts from North and South.

Each participating church and organization will take up the common campaign
agenda in its own context with its own government, as well as working
together to impact international institutions.

This plan has been shared with both World Trade Organization (WTO) director
general Supachai Panitchpakdi and UN high commissioner for Human Rights
Sergio Vieira de Mello, and both have agreed to meet with the EAA.  It has
also been sent to all governmental representatives and observers to the WTO,
and to all ambassadors to Switzerland.

The plan of action and the petition are available on the EAA website at 

For further information, please contact the Media Relations Office, tel: +41
(0)22 791 64 21


The World Council of Churches (WCC) is a fellowship of churches, now 342, in
more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian
traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works
cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly, which
meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in
1948 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary
Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.

World Council of Churches
Media Relations Office
Tel: (41 22) 791 6153 / 791 6421
Fax: (41 22) 798 1346

PO Box 2100
1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland

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