The World Trade Organization is well known for controversial and even infuriating policies that can be prefixed with just about every social movement that is aimed at improving life possible.
With labor, the World Trade Organizationhas historically refused to get involved, while fostering trade agreements that allowed the most horrific forms of labor abuse: child and slave labor. Now, the WTO recognizes it’s responsibility to get involved with labor issues, but is complaining of having a very hard time dealing with the complexities of the issues on a global and multinational scale. This seems to be a problem of focusing only on the economics aspects of world trade, where economists have been notoriously uninterested in human issues. The new educational fields that are hybridizing such fields of economics with anthropology, sociology and other ethnic studies will certainly help with laying out improved labor strategies.
With the environment, the famous comment “a can of tuna is a can of tuna” was in response to WTO treaties that forced countries to accept tuna that had been caught with techniques that were wasteful and harmful to protected species, such as dolphins. The only way to discourage bad fishing practices was to refuse trade. As a result, the WTO treaties were and still are overriding voter and other national imperatives, especially of the US and other nations which are called upon to take the lead in ending bad trade practices through refusing trade and support.
Bio prospecting has resulted in what many believe to be the outright theft of intellectual and other property rights. As great wealth was made from the indigenous knowledge that goes along with those promising and exotic plants in poor parts of the world, very little was returned to those who were instrumental in getting that promising new drug or treatment to the pharmacies of the world. Now, more countries and people are demanding their fair share. The WTO is on the line in this battle, too.
With treaties that disallow favoring local or national business, the WTO is now challenging countries that are trying to help their citizens with budding and very fragile business startups. This controversy has been called the ‘Singapore Issues” and is now threatening African enterprise development.
There are many controversieswith the WTO that are the fault of the WTO, ranging from beetle controversies to intellectual property controversies. But the main controversy lies in the growing and self assigned powers of enforcement by a secretive group of individuals who are not even elected. The future of the WTO appears to be well secured…by the WTO and its member nations, but there appear to be improved efforts to pay attention to the vastly large and growing anger and disaffection’s with its policies and agreements.