Relaunch of bilaterals.org
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bilaterals.org | 22 June 2009
Relaunch of bilaterals.org
Today we are relaunching bilaterals.org with new features and a new design. Major changes to the website include the following:
– It now includes a multimedia section. This section is "open-publishing" like the rest of the site, so anyone can upload videos, photos and audio materials now, in addition to texts.
– We have incorporated the materials from fightingftas.org and upgraded the space for news from resistance movements against so-called free trade agreements (FTAs) and bilateral investment treaties.
– You can now find information by country much more easily than before.
– We have added more signposts to specific issues, an "email this article" feature, and a redesign of the layout.
As a result, the site now gives much more prominence to people’s resistance against FTAs and provides a unique platform for the free and open exchange of a complete range of materials, from brief news and your own commentaries to full length videos and photos from the struggles. All of these changes are based on direct requests from activists in different parts of the world and have been implemented without changing the basic structure of the site.
For those who are not so familiar with the site, background information about bilaterals.org is presented below.
Five years of action
This relaunch comes a few months ahead of the site’s 5th anniversary in September. Over those five years, bilaterals.org has come to serve an important role for many people involved in different struggles against bilateral trade and investment agreements. The site currently houses 15,000 articles on the whole range of FTA negotiations and campaigns, and is used by 6,000 people around the world each day.
It’s very easy to get involved in bilaterals.org and to use it for your campaigns, education and mobilisation work:
– To publish materials yourself, all you need to do is click on the "publish" link. In the multimedia section, click on the "upload" link. You can also comment on any article or engage with other people who share their comments.
– If you want to take responsibility for any section of the site, or if you want to make suggestions on how to improve things, please get in touch.
– If you would like to help out with translation work, there are always small jobs on this front. Please let us know if you can volunteer.
– If your organisation would be interested in contributing to the site’s financial costs, we would welcome the support.
While no one owns or controls bilaterals.org, a small group of people collaborate informally to keep the site going on a day to day basis. You can join the group or get in touch about any question or concern by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
the bilaterals.org team
(Aziz Choudry, María Eugenia Jeria, Paul Pantastico, Renée Vellvé, Carlos Vicente)
bilaterals.org was set up in 2004 as an open-publishing site where people fighting FTAs could exchange information and analysis and build cooperation. At the time, there was no single tool to track the expanding global web of FTAs and investment treaties, and their interconnections. Those campaigning against bilateral deals had found it hard to link up with others around the world to compare notes, share analysis and experience, and develop broader and complementary strategies. A number of organisations initiated this collaborative website. The initiators included the Asia-Pacific Research Network, GATT Watchdog, Global Justice Ecology Project, GRAIN, IBON Foundation and XminY Solidariteitsfonds.
Since then, the site has become a useful resource for social movements, NGOs, researchers, journalists and the broader public as a global clearinghouse for media reports, texts of agreements, critical analyses, campaign materials and educational tools to understand, expose and mobilise against these agreements. It has also helped bring more visibility to bilateral deals as powerful instruments of privatisation, neoliberalism and corporate control.
With the continued failure to move WTO talks beyond the deadlock that they have been in for several years, and notwithstanding a change in government in the United States earlier this year, the global web of free trade and investment agreements continues to expand, whether along North-South, North-North or South-South lines. Despite today’s global food and financial crises which demonstrate the failure of the neoliberal model once again, many governments, and the corporations and investors whose interests they primarily serve, continue to march us down the same dead-end street. With political, financial and corporate power growing among elites in China, India, Brazil, South Africa and other ”developing” countries, governments from the South are pushing free trade deals more than ever, often in the name of regional integration. Yet most of these deals entrench the same model of economic growth trumpeted by free market ideologues. This model means more agrofuel plantations, more GMOs, more mining operations, more industrial infrastructure projects, more rights for corporations and private investors, more pressures on people to migrate, weaker job security, no real sovereignty for local communities and increasing poverty. Meanwhile, newer forms of consolidation of power in corporate hands are emerging.
Resistance movements against bilateral FTAs, sometimes disguised as “economic partnership” (EPAs) or "association" agreements, have been growing quite strongly. The struggle against the US-Korea FTA which has seen sustained mobilisation among many sectors of Korean society, the widespread resistance to the EU’s EPAs in Africa, the Pacific and the Caribbean, the hard battles fought against various deals in Colombia, the official opposition to both US and European FTAs in Bolivia and Ecuador, the amazing popular movements against CAFTA in Costa Rica and other parts of Central America, and the growing battles against Japanese, Chinese, US and EU trade and investment deals throughout Asia are testimony to that. So, too, is the appalling massacre of Indigenous Peoples in the Peruvian Amazon earlier this month, following protests over new laws which ease restrictions on mining, oil drilling, logging and farming in the region as implementation of the US-Peru FTA. The newly revamped bilaterals.org hopes to play a continued role in these struggles.