Saturday, September 13, 2003

Yesterday's heatwave ended with another night of crackling storms and sheeting rain. We unplugged everything from the wall to be on the safe side. I was hoping that the cooler weather would let me go for a run without heating up to 1,000,000°C, but the rain started again today.

In Cancun it looks like the G21 are holding firm. The US and EU are moaning that the poor countries are being 'unhelpful' and 'inflexible' but they should not be acting so surprised. You can only take the rich countries seriously if you think it is reasonable for their career civil servants to have spent the last 7 years with their heads in the sand, ignoring the enormous volume of research, statements, and above all formal documents submitted to the WTO by poor countries, saying "you are not being fair - listen to us".

Joseph Stiglitz, formerly Chief Economist at the World Bank and a Nobel Prize Winner, puts it very well in this recent letter to the Guardian:
where he illustrates the terrible impact of the WTO on people in rural Africa.

His example is rather contrived, and I don't agree with his conclusions that 'no agreement at Cancun' would be a failure for 'global democracy' but I think he puts very well the link between the complex, dry, legalistic and Machiavellian negotiations which go on at the WTO, and the lives of real people.

Well, lets see. If the G21 manage to get to the end of Sunday without being tricked, arm-twisted or otherwise shafted, it will give me some hope that the world has a chance of recovering from the terrible blow to sensible international relations that was the Iraq episode.

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