In a bizarre move, Argentina bars NGOs, civil society from attending WTO conference

Thursday 30 November 2017

Argentine government has revoked WTO accreditation of 31 civil society experts without offering any jusitfication


                    At least 31 civil society experts from across nine countries may not be allowed entry into the conference. Credit: World Trade Organization / Flickr
At least 31 civil society experts from across nine countries may not be allowed entry into the conference. Credit: World Trade Organization / Flickr

The Eleventh Session of the Ministerial Conference the World Trade Organization (WTO) will take place in Buenos Aires from December 10 to 13. But this year, at least 31 civil society experts from across nine countries may not be allowed entry into the conference. In an unprecedented move, the Argentine government has revoked the accreditation of these civil society experts.

The Argentine government has informed the WTO that these experts will not be allowed in the country to participate in the meeting. Most of the rejected organisations collectively work with the global Our World Is Not for Sale (OWINFS) network. 

The registered WTO delegates, many of whom had attended several WTO Ministerial meetings in the past, were sent a note from the WTO Secretariat on November 29 notifying them that the Argentine government had denied the accreditation already issued by the WTO.

Country

Organisation

Argentina

  • Instituto del Mundo del Trabajo
  • Sociedad de Economía Crítica

Belgium

  • 11.11.11

Brazil

  • Brazilian Network for People’s Integration, REBRIP

Chile

  • Derechos Digitales

Finland

  • Siemenpuu

Netherlands

  • Transnational Institute
  • Friends of the Earth International

UK

  • Global Justice Now!

UNI global union

  • Switzerland

UNI Americas

  • Paraguay


The agreement between international organisations and the host country of an international conference provides for accreditation, visas and entry to diplomats, media persons and observers from intergovernmental organisations and NGOs.  

The host nation, according to the agreement, can only refuse entry to a person on exceptional security considerations. But none of the 250 members of OWINFS, who had attended international meetings of the WTO, the UN and other fora, have never been denied entry, except for one or two specific persons, and that too, after offering justification for the denial.

“We have participated in many previous Ministerial meetings without any problems, but now our entire four-person delegation has had their accreditation revoked - in spite of the fact that we have been engaging our government on WTO for years, and have non-refundable tickets and hotels,” said Nick Dearden of Global Justice Now!

The WTO message noting the Argentine government’s denial of accreditation

Date:   Wed, 29 Nov 2017 15:20:02 +0000

From:   MC11-NGO, WTO <mc11-ngo@wto.org>

Dear [registered participant],

The WTO has duly accredited your NGO as an eligible participant of WTO's 11th Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires from 10 to 13 December 2017. However, we are informed by the host government that for unspecified reasons, the Argentine security authorities have decided to deny your accreditation.

We have made repeated enquiries about this unexpected development, but we have little to no hope that a solution will be found. We therefore discourage you from travelling to Argentina so as to avoid being turned away upon entry into the country.

We asked the Argentine authorities to contact you directly and inform you of their decision but to avoid that it does reach you at too late a stage, we have decided to contact you now.

We apologise for the inconvenience that the Argentine decision may cause.  We are unfortunately not in a position to provide any explanation or background and suggest you contact the Argentine authorities directly on acreditaciones.mc11@mrecic.gov.ar.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Trade Minister David Parker, who is also one of the four vice-chairs of the eleventh WTO ministerial conference, has been urged to intervene and take up this matter with the WTO Director-General speak out against this move.

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