Poverty Alleviation

                             Home About us Scope People Info for Authors


Please consult  Information for Authors  regarding  




Editorial Committee


Notes for Contributors


Deere WTO Challenges
Mytelka TT airpoll, renewable energy
ActionAid After Cancun
Inv: Do As We Say 03
Diouf et Dieye/Dakar'03
WTO Transp & Particip
Kwa WTO Powerpolitics
Doha Boiler Room Experience
Oxfam Fair Trade Sum
Food Security & GMOs
OGM -> PVD: rapp CENH





At the WTO's last four Ministerial Conferences in Seattle (1999), Doha (2001) Cancun (2003) and Hong Kong (2005) developing countries played a far more important role than ever before. They were not successful in incorporating their preoccupations effectively into the Uruguay Round negotiations and the thrust of the resulting WTO Agreements. Now they are insisting rightfully that the industrialized world must make a much better effort to narrow the North-South gap, a preoccupation which has become a fundamental component of multilateral negotiations - in trade, in the  environment, and in other areas.


The Work Programme contained in the WTO’s 2001 Doha Ministerial Declaration (paragraphs 12-52) represents the wider framework of the ongoing WTO negotiations. The dynamics of WTO negotiations of this and the subsequent Ministerial Conference in Cancun are the subject of this section. The analyses and accounts  presented here demonstrate, from a Southern perspective, the enormous difficulties of developing countries in making their voices heard equitably, let alone be taken into consideration and have them reflected in the results of a WTO Ministerial Conference. These difficulties do not bode well for the implementation of Trade, Environment and Poverty Alleviation Policies at the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) and of course most importantly for its impact in the medium and long term on developing countries and on poverty alleviation. Technology Transfer is of particular importance to the developing countries in order to enable them to implement win-win-win strategies in environment, development, and trade. Lynn Mytelka's paper on TT in Environmental Goods and Services (air pollution and renewable services) is of particular interest here. As far as the specific negotiations are concerned, Mathew Stilwell's presentation of CTE/SS's state of play is presently still valid. The following year, the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg arguably was strongly influenced by the trade negotiations in Doha.


This section furthermore explains the enormous challenge that GM food and other GM plants represent for developing countries. Switzerland's 2003 Rapport à La Commission fédérale d'éthique pour le génie génétique dans le domaine non humain (CENH) explains the complexities, costs and uncertainties to developing countries in preparing for genetically modified imports. To make the situation even more unpredictable and risky for developing countries under the best circumstances, these plants in most cases have been developed by the private sector for large farms, and many countries especially in Europe refuse to import certain GM varieties or pay less for them than for the equivalent traditional varieties.


As far as better institutionalized relationships between Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and the WTO are concerned, developing countries have by and large been distrustful toward NGOs which are trying to push for some movement into the frozen positions at the WTO's Committee on Trade and Development. The same applies to the opening of negotiations at UN-related environmental bodies to civil society, and also to some extent to dispute settlement through the admission and consideration of amicus curiae briefs from specialized NGOs at the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body. The negotiations of MEAs in a number of fields (e.g. in Biosafety and in Intellectual Property Rights on Plants, as well as in the hazardous chemicals and waste conventions), have shown again and again that this resistance of developing countries is generally not in their long term interest, they are often finding themselves here as demandeurs in the same policy corner as the NGOs. In any case environmental problems tend to hit poor countries dependent on agriculture much more than the industrialized countries, and the NGOs which push for better environmental safeguards tend to be the same ones which advocate more support for capacity building, for technical assistance, and for official development assistance.


Last but not least, one of the most important domains of North-South cooperation consists in the environmentally sound management (ESM) of hazardous chemicals and waste. Please see our section on Chemicals and Wastes.





Focus on the Global South


Free electronic subscription


International Environmental Law Research Center, Geneva, Nairobi and New Delhi



South Centre, Geneva

Free electronic subscription



Third World Network


Free electronic subscription