The White Lung Association Condemns WTO Action to Exclude
the Views of Asbestos Victims.
Below you will find the GreenPeace press release on the recent WTO action.
Please study it carefully.
The White Lung Association was able to present the views of the asbestos
victims through reports to several of the Non-Governmental Organizations
(NGO's). Our message has now been excluded by the leaders of the World
Trade Organization. The entire collection of information recently gathered
at the Global Asbestos Congress, held in Brazil last December, is now
excluded from these proceedings. This is more of the "old economy, dis-information
age, pretend the information and facts don't exist so we can help polluters
do business" thinking. This thinking is unacceptable for asbestos victims.
Our message must be heard so this torture and murder of innocent workers
is put to a stop.
The World Trade Organization continues to tramble the views of the world's
people and to be a servent of global corporations, including the asbestos
industry and their hostage governments.
This outrageous situation continues to expose millions of the world's
people to asbestos and to create more asbestos victims for the next century.
The details of this latest action by the WTO are well discussed by the
Greenpeace political unit and we urge all asbestos victims to read it,
print it out and post it at meetings.
Jim Fite, National Secretary
Embargoed for 14:00 GMT, 22 November 2000
A COURT WITHOUT FRIENDS?
ONE YEAR AFTER SEATTLE THE WTO SLAMS THE DOOR ON NGOS
A group of non-government organizations has been refused the opportunity
to file amicus curiae -- or friend of the court -- submissions in the
WTO Asbestos case. The organizations include Greenpeace International,
World Wide Fund for Nature International, Ban Asbestos Network, the International
Ban Asbestos Secretariat, the Foundation for International Environmental
Law and Development and the Center for International Environmental Law.
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) looked ready to come out and play
but was quick to retreat again behind closed doors. Having invited the
participation of civil society in Canada's appeal of a decision upholding
a French ban on asbestos, the WTO's Appeals Body has now told non-government
organizations (NGOs) to go home.
"Obviously they have not learnt the lesson from Seattle," said Greenpeace
Political Director, Remi Parmentier. "Once again, the WTO has arbitrarily
dismissed the input of civil society, fuelling concerns about the secretive
way in which it makes decisions that impact on human lives and the environment."
The WTO General Council is convening at 3 pm today, Wednesday November
22 in Geneva to discuss amicus curiae briefs in a special meeting ---
an indication of the controversy the issue has raised amongst WTO Member
Bait and Switch
The NGO group supports the French ban on asbestos that has been challenged
by Canada as a contravention of the international trade regime. Laurie
Kazan-Allen, from the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat is deeply
involved in worldwide efforts to ban the use and sale of asbestos. "Thousands
of people die from asbestos related diseases every year. And yet, throughout
the entire WTO dispute resolution process, not one word was heard from
asbestos victims, their families or medical personnel who work with them,"
Ms Kazan- Allen explained.
In a rare moment of clarity, the WTO issued special procedures inviting
NGOs to file requests to make legal submissions in the case by 16 November.
Despite misgivings about the time-frame and other restrictions imposed
by the Appellate Body in its invitation, NGOs welcomed the move as one
that recognized the value of their contribution to the WTO's decision-making
However, less than twenty-four hours after it had filed its request,
the group of NGOs received a standard form letter refusing the application.
The WTO provided no detailed reasons for its refusal. Other applications
by civil society were also refused without explanation. "What the WTO
gave with one hand, it took with the other. We were encouraged by the
WTO's invitation as a sign that it might have finally got the message
about the importance of civil society participation. To then be summarily
refused without reasons shows gross indifference to the interests of our
constituencies and lack of due process," said Aimee Gonzales, WWF International
Senior Policy Advisor.
One step forward, two steps back
By failing to give adequate consideration to directly affected groups,
the WTO runs the risk of increasing widespread distrust in its dispute
settlement procedures which are already heavily criticised for giving
free trade precedence over other values such health, the environment and
sustainable development. The WTO's Appellate body has instructed its Members
to observe principles of "basic fairness" but has proven itself incapable
of honouring its own preachings. Its decision to deny the group's request
was swift but, without reasoning, appears arbitrary. Failing to provide
adequate reasons for its refusal demonstrates a lack of procedural fairness
that is not tolerated in democratic legal systems.
In London: Laurie Kazan-Allen, International Ban Asbestos Secretariat,
IBAS; Phone: 44-20-8958-3887; Fax: 44-20-8958-9424; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In Amsterdam: Remi Parmentier, Greenpeace International; Phone: 31-20-523
6228; Fax: 31-20-523-62 00; Email: email@example.com
In Geneva: Aimèe T. Gonzales, Senior Policy Advisor, World Wide
Fund for Nature, International; Phone: 41-22-364-9002; Cellular Phone:
079-692-79-73; Fax: 41-22-364-8219; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In London: Jacob Werksman, Acting Director of Foundation for International
Environmental Law and Development; Alice Palmer, Staff Lawyer; Phone:
44-20-7637-7950; Fax: 44- 20-7637-7951; Email: email@example.com
In Geneva: Matthew Stilwell, Managing Attorney; Center for International
Environ mental Law; Elisabeth Tuerk, Staff Attorney; Phone 41-22-789-0738;
Fax: 41-22-789-0500; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In September this year, the WTO Panel upheld the French ban on asbestos,
which is designed to protect French workers and consumers from this cancer
causing material. Concerned that its remaining markets might impose similar
restrictions on the use and sale of asbestos, Canada filed an appeal with
the WTO Appellate Body in late October. Although the WTO Panel Body had
reached the right conclusion by upholding the French ban, it did so through
flawed reasoning. It found that deadly asbestos was "the same" as its
innocuous substitutes and that the ban was therefore a violation of international
trade laws. Only the WTO's narrow health and safety exception saved the
ban from being struck down. While optimistic that the Appellate Body will
endorse the Panel's finding in favour of the French ban, the coalition
nevertheless wanted an opportunity to correct the Panel's faulty reasoning.
Applying the same "toxic logic" to other equally dangerous substances
could send a signal to regulators that distinctions between safe and poisonous
products could raise a WTO dispute, freezing their efforts to make laws
to protect human health and the environment. This group of NGOs, comprising
organisations concerned about the deadly effects of asbestos, environmental
protection and sustainable development, sought to provide expert legal
analysis informed by individuals and groups whose interests are directly
affected by the risks associated with the use, sale and international
trade in asbestos. The coalition's concerns transcend national boundaries
and extend to broader issues of health, safety and the environment. In
the aftermath of Seattle, civil society will not accept inaccessible trade
experts deciding in secret whether or not domestic policy measures to
protect human health and the environment are compatible with international
economic obligations. Any decision must take into consideration other
non-economic bodies of law and give adequate consideration and access
to directly affected groups. If national policy measures are to be scrutinized,
the process must be fully open and transparent, allowing input to and
free flow of information from the proceedings.
Political Unit, Greenpeace International
Keizersgracht 176, 1016 DW Amsterdam
Tel: +31-20-523 62 28
Fax: +31-20-523 62 00
4/16/05: Spectre to Introduce
U.S. Asbestos Bill This Week
5/22/05: Individuals Injured
by Asbestos Exposure Oppose Specter's Trust Fund Legislation
10/16/05: Victim's Organizations
Form Asbestos Victims Coalition in Opposition to Asbestos Trust
11/17/05: White Lung Mourns Jose
12/18/05: Frist Introducing Asbestos
Bill in January
12/04/06: Asbestos Watch Newsletter:
Help Celebrate the 27th Anniversary of the WHITE LUNG ASSOCIATION
Asbestos Victim's Superfund
Asbestos Watch March 14, 2005 (Maryland
chapter of the White Lung Association meetings)
Directorate of Safety, Health,
and Environment (open letter)
Joe Oliver's Alerts:
Joe Oliver, National Board Member and former President of the
White Lung Association, has issued a call to all persons to help
gather evidence on the conspiracy by asbestos trade organizations
to suppress the knowledge about the hazards of asbestos exposure.
If you know anything about this horrific history or have documents
which can be used to further prove their heinous crimes, please
contact Joe Oliver, WLA, POB 1483, Balt. MD 21203.
The White Lung Association stands
in opposition to The Specter Bill (S.852)
S.1115: Bill to amend the Toxic Substances
Control Act to reduce the health risks posed by asbestos-containing
products - This bill is supported by the WLA.
Meet Mr. Asbestos
Proceedings of the Asbestos
Symposium for the Asian Countries - now available for purchase.
Senator Specter Breaks Promise to
Mesothelioma Patient and Research Community
Senate Judiciary Committee returns to
Mark-Up on May 11th: Proposed asbestos trust fund legislation
will further penalize victims of asbestos-caused diseases
May 2003, the Global Environment & Technology Foundation developed
the "Asbestos Strategies" report.
The latest issue is Spring 2005
The latest issue is January 4, 2007
December 17, 2000 is Asbestos Hazard Awareness Day
Articles & Publications:
Occupational Respiratory Diseases:
Asbestos Associated Disease -- Reprinted from: Maxcy-Rosenau
Public Health and Preventative Medicine 11th ed. (John
M. Last, Ed.) 1980, Appleton-Century-Crofts
Asbestos Victims Deserve Compensation
Not Betrayal: position release by the Board of Directors, White
Paul Safchuck May
Nicholson Dies at 70
Ray Sentes Brave
Fighter For Asbestos Victims