False Representation

In her book Whose Trade Organization, Lori Wallach argues that corporate interests have for too long dominated the World Trade Organization and that it is time for the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to receive a seat at the table. She may soon get her way. Increasingly, the U.N. and other international meetings grant the representatives of “civil society” – a.k.a., left-liberal NGOs – rights equal to (or in some cases superior to) nation-states. This trend reflects most NGOs’ favoring shifting power to these international bodies from national governments. The deliberations have become a stylized dance in which NGOs shout that more power should be granted the international agency and the agency spokes man reluctantly acquiesces.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />


Already NGOs such as the World Wildlife Fund, Consumers International, and the Naderites have gained prominent roles in determining international policy in areas from food safety to agricultural policy to world trade. No one has elected these groups to speak for them, yet they claim to be the only legitimate representatives of civil society.


As long as the United States participates in these international bargaining sessions, it is at risk. The best path would be for the U.S. to remove itself from such games. In a world dominated by the United States, America’s non-participation means that nothing significant is likely to occur.