29 Nov 2011

Pacific NGOS urge Vanuatu government to delay joining WTO

2:05 pm on 29 November 2011

Civil society groups from around the Pacific say the Vanuatu government should delay joining the World Trade Organisation so it can properly engage local people on the issue.

Churches and chiefs in Vanuatu are among those objecting to WTO membership which is waiting for final ratification by parliament.

Maureen Penjueli of the Pacific Network on Globalisation says it is more important than ever for people to be fully informed and consulted on trade negotiations given the world's interlinked crises of food, fuel, finance and climate change.

She says network members are concerned ni-Vanuatu have not been able to express their opinions freely on the matter.

"These groups have had very little time to engage meaningfully with their government. Vanuatu still has an opportunity to call for an extension so that they can dialogue with their own people."

Maureen Penjueli says the government should allow a UN mission to restart work assessing the human rights impact of joining the WTO.