The WTO Behind Closed Doors

The World Trade Organization is viewed by many nations as a highly controversial and corrupt assembly. Poorer countries feel they are oppressed by the harsh labor conditions that free trade forces upon them. Major economic powers feel their voices are muddled, because the WTO seeks consensus on its decisions, instead of a simple majority – which means that the most minor countries have a major say on all policy. But one of the biggest problems with the WTO is its complete and utter lack of transparency.

To call the WTO extremely secretive would still be a massive understatement. All its meetings are held in closed sessions, and simple requests for information are frequently denied. WTO judges are selected by committee and are not reviewed by member nations’ legislative bodies.

The American people deserve full accessibility from any quasi-governmental body that can force the U.S. to change its standards. Decisions within are being poisoned by corporate corruption. For example: in 2008, Mexico filed a tuna/dolphin case against the U.S., forcing a repeal to a law that barred tuna from being caught in the mile-long nets that kill hundreds of thousands of dolphins each year. It was discovered later that one of the judges was from a corporate front group that lobbied on behalf of the Mexican government for NAFTA.

Although appeals are regularly filed in cases like these, that process is also closed to the public, and it is simply ruled over by another WTO agency. Outside of the WTO, no other appeal process exists. Again, the biggest problem here is the total lack of transparency. Few people know that the U.S. is the most sued country by other WTO members. Even fewer are aware that the WTO rules against the U.S. more often than not, forcing changes to laws that even the U.S. Constitution is helpless to protect against.

In the past, there have been numerous reports of officials being unable to access information about the activities of their own trade negotiators. Anything could be going on, and neither the public nor elected officials have any clue.

This type of system is not working. The United States has the power to withdraw completely from the WTO, and the entire process takes merely six months. This would be a wise plan of action for a country that needs to start helping itself out again. The unscrupulous deals of the WTO are done behind closed doors for a reason; Americans deserve better treatment from the people that are making decisions that affect their futures.

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