This is a note to reiterate our request on inclusion of NGO representative on government delegation to the fourth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to be held at Doha, Qatar in November 2001.

In the past, in international conferences NGO representatives have been a part of the official Indian delegation. Even WTO ministerial meetings have had representations from the NGO community, as part of a country’s official delegation. These include NGO representatives from both developed countries and developing countries like Kenya and Uganda as well.

A precedence was set by the Government of India by taking business representatives in the official Indian delegation to the Seattle ministerial meeting, ignoring the claim of NGOs which was unfair.

For more information regarding our advocacy, please look into the enclosed annexures.

Annexure 1

NGO Representatives in the Official Indian Delegation to International Meetings

Annexure 2

Factors for Evaluating Our Request

Annexure 3

Experiences of UK and Kenyan NGO Representatives

Annexure 1

NGO Representatives in the Official Indian Delegation to International Meetings
World Summit on Sustainable Development, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Anil Agarwal, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi

World Summit on Social Development, Copenhagen, Denmark
Sharada Jain, Sandhan, Jaipur

Amitabha Mukherjee, Action Aid India, Bangalore

World Women’s Conference, Beijing, China
Rekha Kishore, Guild of Services, New Delhi and two others

Annexure 2

Factors for Evaluating Our Request

  • Member of the Think Tank of the Ministry of Commerce, 1996 which was set up to advise the government in the run-up to the Singapore Ministerial Conference of the WTO, December 1996.
  • Member of the National Advisory Committee on International Trade and its various working groups. Contributed constructively and passionately in the meetings of the Committee.
  • Member of the Expert Group of the Commerce Ministry on the Interaction between Trade and Competition Policy.
  • Have been working on GATT/WTO issues for over a decade, thus having experience of understanding issues in right perspectives.
  • Attended all the Ministerial Conferences of the WTO, and several UNCTAD meetings, thus having institutional memory on issues covered in the previous meetings. This can become handy for government officials who are new to the Trade Policy Division of the Ministry of Commerce, in terms of consulting us on any issues, if they feel so.
  • Given our networking strength, during the ministerial meeting we will be able to provide instant information on what’s happening on the field.
  • Compatible positions with that of the Government of India. In fact, on many issues, like the implementation problems of existing agreements, our thinking is similar.
  • The Ministry knows our analytical capacity in comprehending WTO issues and value that as well. The government officials and the Minister have acknowledged this on many occasions.
  • Our position is for the WTO to progress and take on board developmental concerns while implementing the existing agreements. Thus, including us in the government delegation will give a right signal to a section of NGOs who are hell bent on opposing the WTO, many of who do not event know the implications.

Annexure 3

Experiences of UK and Kenyan NGO Representatives
The following is a summary of a paper written by Hilary Coulby of the UK NGO Trade Network, with contributions from Gichinga Ndrangu of Action Aid, Kenya.

Both the NGO representatives themselves and their NGO colleagues found their presence on the government delegation beneficial to lobbying activities and ensuring NGOs had good access to Ministers and officials.

Interestingly written communication from the Kenyan and UK governments following the Seattle Ministerial demonstrated that they also had found the presence of an NGO representative on the delegation beneficial. [emphasis added]

It was important for NGO representatives to establish protocols for their conduct, with or without conditions being set, that ensured that they:

  • gave equal attention to promoting the different issues raised by their colleagues, whether or not they considered them significant;
  • shared all information gained in their role as representative openly with all their colleagues; and
  • did nothing to undermine government confidence in NGO competence, nor to harm the future prospects of NGO inclusion.

Although formal and informal protocols were followed in both cases, neither NGO representative found these oppressive because they felt they were playing a constructive role in helping to advance NGO agendas.

Since the role of an NGO delegate is largely focused on representation and liaison, much of its value depends on the presence of other NGO personnel with whom close contact can be maintained.

In terms of persuading governments to include an NGO representative on the official delegation, the Kenyan experience differed from that of UK NGOs because Kenyan NGO positions generally were close to those of their government, while UK NGOs had serious disagreements with government policy. Nevertheless, there were some common factors in persuading governments to include NGOs on the official delegation:

  • both governments had got to know NGO personnel during the year proceeding Seattle, allowing trust and respect to be established;
  • in theory, government had the opportunity to select the person who would represent NGOs themselves (in practice, they only had one name in front of them); and
  • they understood that NGO representatives were willing to work within formal or informal protocols appropriate to their role on the official delegation.

Additional factors, that influenced the Kenyan government were that:

  • the person would be a source of additional expertise; and
  • the government knew that the NGO representative would be willing and able to carry the government agenda on most issues in Seattle.

Additional factors that influenced the UK government were that:

  • the request for inclusion were relentless;
  • there were precedents both from Europe and Africa; and
  • the Labour government had committed itself to transparency in relations with civil society and Ministers wanted to demonstrate that they were in line with Party thinking.

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