International Convention of Local Communities

On 28 and 29 October 2006, Geneva will host the International Convention of Local Communities. Its purpose is to
* strengthen ties between communities dedicated to democratic values and public services
* reinforce cooperation among all parties who are mobilising including elected authorities, union organisations, social movements and NGOs who support the effort
* promote and enact the « Ličge Resolution » adopted at the previous Convention held in Ličge in October 2005.

Many cities and local communities in Europe and worldwide oppose the WTO’s aim to commercialise anything and everything. The WTO General Agreement on the Trade of Services seeks to generally apply the laws of competition to a maximum number of services in a maximum number of sectors, on the global as well as local level.

GATS poses a threat to all public services at every level of authority and compromises the ability of elected officials to freely administer their local communities.

Trade laws ultimately dominate social considerations and override continental, national, regional or local legislation. Local communities find themselves bound by restrictive structural adjustments due to agreements and free trade policies. This state of affairs undermines public services and removes the freedom of local authorities to provide such services and meet the population’s social needs.

The benefits of liberalisation promised by the WTO are far from being evident: widening inequalities, growing disparities from region to region and social economic imbalance, humanitarian catastrophes, environmental upheaval and heightening tensions all jeopardise, a little more each day, the existence and future of people and the planet.

Local communities:
* concentrate the effects of globalisation and therefore represent the first line of resistance against its harmful prospects, which are woefully void of humanity
* are mindful of their populations’ needs and therefore have a duty to resist the workings of the WTO and counter them in order not to be accused of neglecting people and the planet
* are channels of social utility and therefore strive to promote public services as a matter of common interest
* are committed to meeting social, economic and environmental challenges and therefore uphold the universality of public services.

By being part of the « NON GATS» movement, local communities seek to stimulate public democratic debate about the question of services and what is at stake :
* Trade can only lead to economically and socially profitable exchange if it respects human needs everywhere and is not solely based on profit for financial speculators and transnational corporations
* the systematic, progressive elimination of public services is a systematic, progressive assault on solidarity and democracy
* a complete opening of services to competition is counterproductive to their accessibility, quality and cost
* social rights are inalienable rights and cannot be based on market principles
* the availability of a diversity of public services that are socially beneficial is indispensable to a dignified quality of life for everyone, everywhere, as a prerequisite for true democracy
* public management must be preserved to protect the common good and create new public services.

Everyone’s involvement is key in this common struggle:
The movement of « Non GATS » communities continues to grow. Its particular contribution is to offer a time and place of convergence where local authorities, unionists and activists, all of them citizens, can meet in remarkable coequality and diversity.

See: www.agcs-gats.org

in french

write to: agcs-gats@ras.eu.org

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