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Encyclopedia > WTO meeting of 1999
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On November 30, 1999, the World Trade Organization convened in Seattle, Washington, USA, for what was to be the launch of a new millennial round of trade negotiations. The negotiations, which were unsuccessful, were quickly overshadowed by massive and controversial street protests outside the hotels and convention center, in what became the coming-out of the anti-globalization movement in the United States. The scale of the demonstrations—even the lowest estimates put the crowd at over 40,000—dwarfed any previous demonstration against a world meeting of any of the organizations generally associated with economic globalization (e.g., the WTO, the IMF, or the World Bank). November 30 is the 334th day (335th on leap years) of the year in the Gregorian calendar, with 31 days remaining, as the final day of November. ... 1999 is a common year starting on Friday Anno Domini (or the Current Era), and was designated the International Year of Older Persons by the United Nations. ... WTO Logo The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an international organization which oversees a large number of agreements defining the rules of trade between its member states (WTO, 2004a). ... City nickname Emerald City City bird Great Blue Heron City flower Dahlia City mottos The City of Flowers The City of Goodwill City song Seattle, the Peerless City Mayor Greg Nickels County King County Area   - Total   - Land   - Water   - % water 369. ... State nickname: The Evergreen State Other U.S. States Capital Olympia Largest city Seattle Governor Christine Gregoire (D) Senators Patty Murray (D) Maria Cantwell (D) Official languages None Area 184,824 km² (18th)  - Land 172,587 km²  - Water 12,237 km² (6. ... A fruit stand at a market. ... A hotel is an establishment that provides lodging, usually on a short-term basis. ... A convention center is a large, cavernous public building with enough open space to host public and private business and social events for the surrounding municipal and metropolitan areas. ... Anti-WEF grafiti in Lausanne. ... Jump to: navigation, search Globalization (or globalisation) is a modern term used to describe the changes in societies and the world economy that result from dramatically increased international trade and cultural exchange. ... The flag of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is the international organization entrusted with overseeing the global financial system by monitoring foreign exchange rates and balance of payments, as well as offering technical and financial assistance when asked. ... Logo of the World Bank The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, in Romance languages: BIRD), better known as the World Bank, is an international organization whose original mission was to finance the reconstruction of nations devastated by WWII. Now, its mission has expanded to fight poverty by means...


Organizations and planning

Planning for the demonstrations began months in advance and included local, national, and internationational organizations. Among the most notable participants were national and international NGOs (especially those concerned with labor issues, the environment, and consumer protection), labor unions (including the AFL-CIO), student groups, religiously-based groups (Jubilee 2000), and anarchists. Jump to: navigation, search A non-governmental organization (NGO) is an organization that is not part of a government and was not founded by states. ... A union (labor union in American English; trade union, sometimes trades union, in British English; either labour union or trade union in Canadian English) is a legal entity consisting of employees or workers having a common interest, such as all the assembly workers for one employer, or all the workers... The AFL-CIO is the largest labor union federation in the United States. ... Logo of Jubilee 2000 Jubilee 2000 was an international coalition movement in over 40 countries calling for cancellation of unpayable third world debt by the year 2000. ... Jump to: navigation, search Note: A replacement for this page is being drafted at Anarchism/historical. ...

The coalition was loose and broad, based more on opposition to WTO policies (especially those related to free trade) than on support for any one political position, but there was a general consensus among the protestors that the WTO favors the rich and powerful multinational corporations over the interests of most of the world's population and that its policies are destroying the lives of people in third world countries. Many complained specifically about the impact of the WTO on Americans in undermining the sovereignty of federal, state, and local governments and siphoning well-paying American jobs to countries with lower wages, poorer working conditions, and few environmental protections. Free trade is an economic concept referring to the selling of products between countries without tariffs or other trade barriers. ... A multinational corporation (MNC) or multinational enterprise (MNE) or transnational corporation (TNC) is one that spans multiple nations; these corporations are often very large. ... For the Jamaican reggae band, see Third World (band). ...

The motivations and intent of many of these groups in coming to Seattle differed drastically. Many NGOs came with credentials to participate in the official meetings, while also planning various educational and press events. The AFL-CIO, with cooperation from its member unions, organized a large permitted rally and march from Seattle Center to downtown. Center House, Seattle Center Seattle Center is a fairground, park and arts and entertainment center in Seattle, Washington, on the site used in 1962 by the Century 21 Exposition. ... Downtown Seattle, from top of Space Needle (looking south) Map of downtown Seattle Downtown is a neighborhood in Seattle, Washington. ...

Others, however, were more interested in taking direct action, especially civil disobedience, to disrupt the meeting. These groups loosely organized together as the Direct Action Network (DAN), with a plan to disrupt the meetings by blocking streets and intersections downtown to prevent delegates from reaching the Washington State Convention and Trade Center, where the meeting was to be held. Though the group was a politically diverse one, it did settle on a basic code of nonviolence, including: "We will not destroy property."[1] Direct action is a method and a theory of stopping objectionable practices or creating more favorable conditions using immediately available means, such as strikes, boycotts, workplace occupations, sit-ins, intimidation, harassment or sabotage, and less oppositional methods such as establishing radical social centres, although these are often squatted. ... An anti-war activist is arrested for civil disobedience on the steps of the Supreme Court on February 9, 2005. ... Direct Action Network (DAN) was a confederation of anarchist and anti-authoritarian organizations that was formed to coordinate Seattles anti-WTO mobilization in 1999. ... The Washington State Convention and Trade Center is a convention center located next to and over Interstate 5 in downtown Seattle, Washington. ... [[[[Media:--84. ...

However, certain activists, most notably a group of mostly-young anarchists from Eugene, Oregon (where anarchists had "rioted" that summer), advocated more confrontational tactics, and apparently planned deliberate vandalism of properties in downtown Seattle owned by multinational corporations, such as Beaverton, Oregon-based Nike, Seattle-based Starbucks, various banks, etc. Eugene is the third largest city [1] and boasts the second largest metropolitan population [2] in the state of Oregon, and is also the county seat of Lane County, Oregon. ... Anarchism is a generic term describing various political philosophies and social movements that advocate the elimination of hierarchy and imposed authority. ... Riots in Newark, New Jersey Riots occur when crowds of people have gathered and are committing crimes or acts of violence. ... Vandalism is the conspicuous defacement or destruction of a structure or symbol. ... // Use of the term The concept of property or ownership has no single or universally accepted definition. ... A multinational corporation (MNC) or multinational enterprise (MNE) or transnational corporation (TNC) is one that spans multiple nations; these corporations are often very large. ... Beaverton is a city located in Washington County, Oregon, seven miles west of Portland in the Tualatin River Valley. ... Nike, Inc. ... Jump to: navigation, search For other meanings of the name Starbuck, see Starbuck. ...


At 5:00 A.M. on the morning of November 30th, the Direct Action Network's plan was put into action. Several hundred activists arrived in the deserted streets near the convention center and began to take control of key intersections. Over the next few hours, a number of marches began to converge on the area from different directions. These included a student march from the north and a march of citizens of the developing world who marched in from the south. Some demonstrators held rallies, others held teach-ins and at least one group staged an early-morning street party. Meanwhile, a number of activists still controlled the intersections using lockdown formations.

The control of the intersections, plus the sheer numbers of protestors in the area, prevented delegates from getting from their hotels to the Convention Center. It also had the effect of cutting the police forces in two: the police who had formed a cordon around the convention center were completely cut off from the rest of the city. The police outside of the area eventually decided to attempt to break through the protestors' lines in the south.

At 10:31 am, the Seattle police fired tear gas canisters into a crowd at the intersection of 6th Avenue and Union Street. By noon, they were also shooting demonstrators with rubber bullets and pepper spray, in order to force as many WTO delegates as possible through the blockade. Apparently acting on a previously determined policy, police initially refused to arrest demonstrators (in some cases pepper-spraying those non-violently presenting themselves for arrest). When they did attempt to make arrests, they found themselves unable to do so. Some police began beating demonstrators and engaging in other acts of violence, even towards bystanders who were not participating in the demonstrations. In a few hours, the police expended all their tear gas, and rushed to other police departments to get more. Categories: Stub | Seattle, WA | United States municipal police departments ... A riot control agent is a type of lachrymatory agent (or lacrimatory agent). ... Rubber bullets are rubber-coated projectiles fired from guns. ... Pepper spray is a non-lethal chemical agent which is used in riot control, crowd control and personal self-defense, including defense against dogs. ...

The situation was complicated around noon, when perhaps a few dozen black-clad anarchists (in a formation known as a black bloc) -- many of them likely from Eugene, as discussed above -- began smashing windows and vandalizing corporate storefronts. This produced some of the most famous and controversial images of the protests (one particularly widely-distributed photo showed a Nike-wearing anarchist vandalizing Niketown). Reaction from other protestors was mixed (some attempted to physically block their activities) and the police were unable to make arrests. A widely circulated communique claimed to dispel myths and explain the actions of the black bloc anarchists. [2] Black Bloc at April 12, 2003 anti-war demonstration in Washington DC. A black bloc is a group of White protesters, often dressed in black, who cooperate in small, autonomous affinity groups to resist police. ... Nike, Inc. ...

The police were eventually totally overwhelmed by the mass of protestors downtown, including many who had chained themselves together and were blocking intersections. Meanwhile, the late-morning labor-organized rally and march drew tens of thousands; though the intended march route had them turning back before they reached the convention center, most ignored the marshals and joined what had become a street-carnival-like scene downtown.

The opening of the meetings was delayed, and it took police much of the afternoon and evening to clear the streets. Seattle mayor Paul Schell imposed a curfew and a 50-block "No-Protest Zone" of questionable legality and constitutionality. Businesses lost approximately $9 to $18 million in sales, and suffered $2 to $3 million dollars in property damage (mostly covered by insurance). There were further losses in tourism due to damaged reputation, and/or public apprehension about living in or visiting Seattle. Jump to: navigation, search Paul Schell, born Paul Schlachtenhaufen on October 8, 1937, in Fort Dodge, Iowa, was the 54th mayor of Seattle, Washington. ... A curfew can be one of the following: An order by the government for certain persons to return home before a certain time. ...

Over 600 people were arrested over the next few days, although virtually all of them were later acquitted due to inappropriate police procedure during the arrests. One particularly violent confrontation occurred the evening of December 1, when police pursued protestors fleeing from downtown into the bohemian neighborhood of Capitol Hill, indiscriminately using tear gas, pepper spray, and physical force and injuring some neighborhood residents. Capitol Hill Capitol Hill is a neighborhood in Seattle, Washington. ...

The Indymedia project started here to cover the protests. The Independent Media Center, also called Indymedia or the IMC, is a loose network of amateur or alternative media organizations and journalists who organize into decentralized collectives, normally around geographic locations. ...

The events are sometimes referred to as the "Battle of Seattle."


The conclusion by many in Seattle was that the WTO convention was not worth hosting due to the economic damage caused by the protests. Controversy over the city's response to the protests resulted in the resignation of Seattle police chief Norm Stamper, and arguably played a role in Schell's loss to Greg Nickels and Mark Sidran in the 2001 mayoral primary election. Seattle Mayor Gridlock Greg Nickels Gregory J. Greg Nickels, born August 7, 1955, is the 55th and current mayor of Seattle, Washington. ... Jump to: navigation, search 2001: A Space Odyssey. ...

Similar tactics, on the part of both police and protesters, were repeated at subsequent meetings of the WTO, IMF/World Bank, Free Trade Area of the Americas, and other international organizations. The flag of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is the international organization entrusted with overseeing the global financial system by monitoring foreign exchange rates and balance of payments, as well as offering technical and financial assistance when asked. ... Logo of the World Bank The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, in Romance languages: BIRD), better known as the World Bank, is an international organization whose original mission was to finance the reconstruction of nations devastated by WWII. Now, its mission has expanded to fight poverty by means... The Free Trade Area of the Americas or FTAA (in Spanish: Área de Libre Comercio de las Américas, ALCA; in French: Zone de libre-échange des Amériques, ZLEA; in Portuguese: Área de Livre Comércio das Américas, ALCA) is a proposed agreement to eliminate or reduce trade...

The long-term impacts on WTO policies remained decidedly unclear, and it is an open question whether the WTO's actions since that time have been influenced significantly by these events.

On January 16, 2004, the city settled with 157 individuals arrested outside of the so-called no-protest zone during the WTO events, agreeing to pay them a total of $250,000. January 16 is the 16th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 2004(MMIV) is a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

Several punk rock bands have shown support for the anti-globalization movement in the aftermath, such as Anti-Flag (whose song "Seattle Was A Riot" was based on the events of the protest), Pennywise (who wrote the song "WTO" in protest to their actions) and Against Me! (whose song "Baby, I'm an Anarchist" refers repeatedly to the riots, albeit sarcastically). This may have been inspired by the No WTO Combo, who were scheduled to play at the protests but ended up cancelling due to the riots. The Seattle-based Infernal Noise Brigade, founded as a musical group to play at the protests, remain together as of 2005 and have travelled to perform during protests at events such as the 2004 Republican National Convention; they are currently planning to perform at the protests against the 31st G8 summit. Punk rock is an anti-establishment music movement beginning around 1976 (although precursors can be found several years earlier), exemplified and popularised by The Ramones, the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned. ... Anti-Flag is a punk rock/hardcore punk band formed by Justin Sane, Pat Thetic, and Andy Flag in Pittsburgh in 1993. ... Early Pennywise (circa 1990) with Jason Thirsk Pennywise is an American punk band, formed in 1988; the name comes from a Stephen King horror novel, It, in which Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bob Gray) is a monster. ... Current Against Me! band members. ... The No WTO Combo was a short lived punk rock band started by Jello Biafra. ... Poster for INB performance in London, June 2005 The Infernal Noise Brigade are a 15-piece Seattle, Washington-based musical group, who originally formed to participate in the protests at the WTO Meeting of 1999. ... 2005 is a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The Republican Party, often called the GOP (for Grand Old Party, although one early citation described it as the Gallant Old Party) [1], is one of the two major political parties in the United States. ... Official G8 2005 Portrait. ...


  • Parrish, Geov. "Anarchists, go home!: Hey, Eugene punks, stay away from my revolution". Seattle Weekly. December 15, 1999.
  • Parrish, Geov. "Beyond Gandhi". Seattle Weekly. November 24, 1999.

Seattle Weekly is the third most popular newspaper in Seattle, Washington, United States, with a circulation of over 100,000. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
WTO 1999 (621 words)
Unless the WTO becomes transparent and accountable to the people and works for the promotion of trade arrangements that are fair and benefit the people around the globe, there is no room for this organization in our global village.
The WTO trade regime favours the powerful corporations and financial institutions whose interests are to maximize profits for themselves and not to improve the lives of the working people and their families.
The WTO also severely undermines democratic local and global governance, openness and accountability to the people all of which are basic to creating conditions for equitable sharing and stewardship of the world's riches.
WTO MC6: Annex C of GATS at Larvatus Prodeo (1860 words)
Now, despite the fact that only a small group of countries had drafted this text, and the fact that the rest of the member states of the WTO had been very clear that they did not agree with the text, it was brought to the Ministerials as the ONLY text to be discussed during negotiations.
As I understand it the Seattle WTO meeting in 1999 blew up because the poor countries were sick of being screwed and sick of the procedural unfairness.
Their agenda on the WTO is of course to bury the damn thing, it being counterproductive in terms of develpoment and beyond redemption.
  More results at FactBites »



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