Presbyterian Voices for Justice 

A union of The Witherspoon Society and Voices of Sophia

Welcome to news and networking for progressive Presbyterians 

Home page Marriage Equality Global & Social concerns    
News of the PC(USA) Immigrant rights Israel & Palestine
U S Politics, 2010-11 Inclusive ordination Wars in Iraq & Afghanistan
The Tucson shootings The Economic Crisis Other churches, other faiths
     About us         Join us! Health Care Reform Archive
Just for fun Confronting torture Notes from your WebWeaver

What's Where

Our reports about the 219th General Assembly, July 2010

About us

The Winter 2011 issue of
Network News
is posted here
- in Adobe PDF format.

Click here for earlier issues
Adobe PDF  Click here to download (free!) Adobe Reader software to view this and all PDF files.

News of Presbyterian Voices for Justice
How to join us


Coming events calendar 

Do you want to announce an event?
Please send a note!
Food for the spirit
Book notes

Go to


NEWS of the Presbyterian Church

Got news??
Send us a note!
Social and global concerns
The U.S. political scene, 2010-11
The Middle East conflict
Uprising in Egypt
The Economic Crisis
Health Care Reform
Working for inclusive ordination
Peacemaking & international concerns
The Wars in Iraq & Afghanistan
Israel, Palestine, and Gaza
U. S. Politics
Election 2008
Economic justice
Fair Food Campaign
Labor rights
Women's Concerns
Sexual justice
Marriage Equality
Caring for the environment
Immigrant rights
Racial concerns
Church & State
The death penalty
The media
Other churches, other faiths
Do you want regular e-mail updates when stories are added to our web site?
Just send a note!
The WebWeaver's Space
Want books?
Search Now:


WTO meeting collapses

WTO meeting in Cancun collapses - a victory for South over North?


The failure of the World Trade Organization Ministerial in Cancun has been widely reported. We offer here a perspective you may not find in the U. S. press: a view from the South.

The Mexico Solidarity Network reports on the collapse of the meeting "amid North-South divide." Then a second report (below) focuses on impact of protests and marches by "thousands of campesinos, unionists, students, anarchists and NGOs."



The World Trade Organization Ministerial in Cancun collapsed on Sunday amid irreconcilable disagreements between Northern nations, led by the United States, and southern countries, led by China, India and Brazil. Negotiations, extending into the wee hours of the morning on Sunday, were unable to bridge fundamental differences.

"The Bush Administration acted like total thugs to the other WTO member countries," according to Lori Wallach of Citizens Trade Campaign. "The U.S. hurled threats and name calling to try to pressure countries, but I think it backfired. ... The Kenyan Ambassador representing the African bloc walked out, then he was followed by the Jamaican ambassador for the Caribbean bloc. As soon as the Kenyan got down the escalator we could see on his face that it was OVER and he started telling what happened to those near him and then Ambassador Bernal from Jamaica confirmed what had happened. There must have been 150 civil society folks in here and in short order the Venezuelan, Nigerian, Kenyan, Brazilian, and other governments' negotiators who had stuck out the bullying came down and it was a blur of hugs, crying, hoots, etc."

On Saturday Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez, who chaired the meetings, offered a draft declaration that was swiftly rejected by other Southern countries. The proposal "has arbitrarily disregarded views and concerns expressed by us," said Indian Commerce Minister Arun Jaitley. "The document is very far from addressing the points we wanted," said Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim.

In the final analysis, there were almost no areas of agreement between Northern and Southern countries. Southern nations objected to massive agricultural subsidies by the US and EU that result in dumping of basic grains at prices below the cost of production, threatening the existence of millions of small Southern producers. Cotton was of particular concern to some smaller African and Asian countries that depend on cotton exports for a significant share of the GDP.

The US, EU and Japan tried to introduce the four so-called "Singapore issues" for negotiation, but over 90 members of the WTO objected. The "Singapore issues" would expand market access for multinational corporations, regulate competition, open government contracts to multinational bidders and affect cross-border transportation.

After the collapse, EU negotiators complained about WTO rules that prioritize consensus decision-making. EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy declared, "Despite the commitment of many able people, the WTO remains a medieval organization. I said this in Seattle, got a lot of flak and I have to repeat it here. The procedures and rules of this organization have not supported the weight of the task. There is no way to structure and steer discussions amongst 148 members in a manner conducive to consensus. The decision-making needs to be revamped." Apparently Lamy prefers decisions made by powerful countries behind closed doors.

US trade representative Robert Zoellick dismissed the concerns of Southern nations in condescending terms: "... useful consensus among 148 countries requires a serious disposition to focus on the work at hand and not rhetoric .. [I]f the WTO and its principal members continue with rhetoric instead of negotiation, the results will not be positive."

The WTO collapse and an increasingly assertive Southern block of "developing" nations represent additional elements in the political crisis brewing in Washington. Mired in guerilla wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and questioned on growing budget deficits and cuts in social programs at home, the Bush administration finds in a crisis of legitimacy that helped embolden Southern nations to stand firm. It may be that the failed WTO negotiations will be seen as a turning point, with Southern countries rejecting the neoliberal model and Washington's unilateral politics.


Thousands of campesinos, unionists, students, anarchists and NGOs dominated much of Cancun this week with protest marches and workshops outlining alternatives to the WTO's neoliberal agenda. The largest protests, each about 10,000-strong, occurred on Wednesday and Saturday, with a Korean delegation numbering around 100 taking the lead both days. On Wednesday, Lee Kyung Hae, president of the Korean Federation of Advanced Farmers, committed ritual suicide during a demonstration at the metal fence that separated demonstrators from the hotel district where the WTO ministerial was held. Lee was a committed activist who saw the neoliberal policies promoted by the WTO as the death of campesinos. According to the Korean delegation, Lee's action was not planned, but was not unexpected, as he had tried to commit suicide twice before at international gatherings protesting the neoliberal model. Shortly after Lee's death, thousands of demonstrators destroyed a large section of the fence and battled with heavily protected police who threw nearly as many stones as the protestors. Lee's death forced Korean negotiators to leave the WTO ministerial.

The Korean delegation and a large group of women took charge of Saturday's demonstration, dismantling a triple-layer ten-foot-high steel fence, then leading a ceremony commemorating Lee's sacrifice. The ceremony ended with hundreds of demonstrators presenting white carnations to police. By that time it was becoming increasingly clear that the WTO would end in failure. The demonstration sent a powerful message that civil society is capable of destroying barriers, but also of disciplined action.

Many smaller creative demonstrations also had an impact. On Monday nude demonstrators spelled out NO WTO on a ritzy beach near the convention center where WTO negotiators gathered. Later in the week small groups of protestors blocked traffic in the hotel zone near the convention center for several hours at a time. On Saturday NGOs dumped a bag of genetically modified corn at the feet of US officials during a press conference, leading the WTO to ban NGOs from the press center. Puppets, banners and marching bands completed a week of creative mobilizations.

The Mexican government reportedly spent US$20 million on the failed meetings, plus an additional US$5 million on security.


GA actions ratified (or not) by  the presbyteries   

A number of the most important actions of the 219th General Assembly have now been acted upon by the presbyteries, confirming most of them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book of Order.

We provided resources to help inform the reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.

Our three areas of primary interest have been:

bullet Amendment 10-A, which  removes the current ban on lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.  Approved!

bullet Amendment 10-2, which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of Confessions.  Disapproved, because as an amendment to the Book of Confessions it needed a 2/3 vote, and did not receive that.

bullet Amendment 10-1, which  adopts the new Form of Government that was approved by the Assembly.   Approved.

If you like what you find here,
we hope you'll help us keep Voices for Justice going ... and growing!

Please consider making a special contribution -- large or small -- to help us continue and improve this service.

Click here to send a gift online, using your credit card, through PayPal.

Or send your check, made out to "Presbyterian Voices for Justice" and marked "web site," to our PVJ Treasurer:

Darcy Hawk
4007 Gibsonia Road
Gibsonia, PA  15044-8312


Some blogs worth visiting

PVJ's Facebook page

Mitch Trigger, PVJ's Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!

You can post your own news and views, or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.


Voices of Sophia blog

Heather Reichgott, who has created this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:

After fifteen years of scholarship and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy, students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and thoughtful community.


John Harris’ Summit to Shore blogspot

Theological and philosophical reflections on everything between summit to shore, including kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology, politics, culture, travel, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood by a progressive New York City Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in Flushing, NY.


John Shuck’s Shuck and Jive

A Presbyterian minister, currently serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton, Tenn., blogs about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and lightening up.


Got more blogs to recommend?

Please send a note, and we'll see what we can do!


To top

© 2011 by Presbyterian Voices for Justice.  All material on this site is the responsibility of the WebWeaver unless other sources are acknowledged.  Unless otherwise noted, material on this site may be copied for personal use and sharing in small groups.  For permission to reproduce material for wider publication, please contact the WebWeaver, Doug King.  Any material reached by links on this site is outside the control and responsibility of the WebWeaver and Presbyterian Voices for Justice.  Questions or comments?  Please send a note!