Nearly 40,000 protestors have gathered in Seattle to demonstrate against the World Trade Organization. Some of the demonstrations turned violent Tuesday as police used tear gas and rubber bullets to try to clear the area around the Convention Center.
Protestors charged that the WTO has refused to address the issue of labor rights, among other abuses. The WTO has ruled that it is illegal for a government to ban a product based on the way it is produced, such as with child labor. Additionally, the WTO has “failed to look at how liberalized trade is affecting women’s lives throughout the world,” according to Women’s EDGE, the coalition for women’s economic development and global equality.
To remedy the economic abuses women suffer globally, Women’s EDGE recommends, in part, that the WTO “accord non-governmental organizations (NGOs) including women’s groups legal standing to appear and argue a case in WTO trade disputes.” Global Exchange, a group that works for global awareness and human rights, was among the groups that helped recruit demonstrators for this week’s WTO meeting in Seattle.
President Clinton said he sympathizes with those opposed to the WTO, saying that trade agreements should consider labor and environmental concerns.