The Thistle Volume 13, Number 2: Sept./Oct., 2000.


The WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM (WEF) Shutdown


The meeting of the World Economic Forum in Melbourne, Australia on September 11-13 was marked by heavy protests. Tens of thousands of people protested the “New World Order” in which corporations have become the default world leaders using groups such as the world Bank, WTO and the WEF.

The WEF, which is a club of the world’s richest 1000 corporations met, quite appropriately at the Crown Casino in Melbourne for three days. All three days saw successful blockades by the protestors. On September 11, 10,000 to 20,000 protesters surrounded Crown Casino .People of all ages linked arms and successfully locked out 200-300 of the 800 WEF delegates. The first WEF session started hours late with only a quarter of the delegates present! On the second day, Bill Gates had to cancel his talk to schoolchildren and about twelve thousand union members protested outside the WEF. The Australian police used unlawful and excessive force to get the delegates out. The last day of the forum was marked by mass disco parties and live performances in the streets of Melbourne.

Dr Vandana Shiva, who read a letter from the protestors to the WEF Forum on September 12 outlined the motivation of the S11 protests. Dr Shiva said “the reasons for us being here are many, but center on our concern for the increasingly unchecked corporate dominance which defines the world we live in”. The parts of Dr Shiva’s speech quoted below give a clear idea of the motivation of the protestors who have been labeled as a bunch of “trouble-causing hecklers” by the corporate media.

“The World Economic Forum (WEF) claims that it is not a decision making body. We know that this is untrue. The WEF includes the richest corporations in the world which have a huge and disproportionate influence not only on government decisions but on the food we eat, the air we breathe, whether we have a living wage or not. The WEF doesn’t need to be a ‘decision making’ body to affect our lives and the lives of people all around the world. The WEF represents corporate interests - not the interests of all the people they employ or displace, or the land and resources they exploit for their financial gain.

We are students, mothers, fathers, workers, unemployed, environmentalists, from religious traditions, Indigenous people amongst others. We are blockading the Crown Casino today to use one of the tools that we as community groups and individuals have - civil disobedience.

We are blockading because people across the world are suffering under corporate-defined globalization. Many of these people are denied the opportunity of civil disobedience because of military regimes, some of which receive corporate support. Unlike the corporations represented inside the World Economic Forum, we do not have multi-million dollar advertising budgets or public relations consultants. What we have is a steadfast belief that we have both the right and the responsibility to take action in the face of corporate disregard for human rights, environmental protection, public health and labor regulation.

This is something we - here in Australia and around the world - have stated for many years. While the WEF claims that it is now addressing key issues such as human rights and environmental sustainability, this is not reflected in the behavior of individual WEF members and we see no evidence of equality in the distribution of global wealth.

We are continuing our non-violent protest today and we will be here tomorrow. We are part of a worldwide movement demanding justice before profits. We are not going away.”



T O P

The Thistle Volume 13, Number 2: Sept./Oct., 2000.