Trade has a role to play in narrowing the gap between the winners and losers from global economic integration. But trade, and trade liberalisation as a means of promoting trade, is not a panacea for poverty any more than protectionism. Trade policies, rules, and institutions should be devised and judged on the basis of their contribution to poverty reduction, respect for human rights, and environmental sustainability. This paper focuses on some aspects of international trade rules and policy-making processes that Oxfam believes require urgent reform in order to redirect the world trade regime towards the achievement of these goals. The paper also sets out Oxfam's position on a new round of World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations.
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August 15, 2001
July 1, 2001
Members of Oxfam International have worked with victims of conflict for 58 years. We are present in over 120 countries, 27 of which are experiencing major conflict. In many parts of the world, we have seen armed conflict and insecurity resulting in enormous human suffering, through deaths and injuries, human rights violations, obstruction of humanitarian aid, the destruction of livelihoods, and mass displacement of people. One lesson drawn from our experience, whether in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe or Latin America, is that conflicts are fuelled by the international transfer of arms, most notably small arms and ammunition. Ease of access to the weapons of war has become a fundamental humanitarian concern.
February 6, 2001
At a time when new technology has such potential to contribute to human welfare, and has also become the most important determinant of competitiveness in global markets, it is very disturbing that the monopoly rights of the producers of technology are being strengthened. Oxfam, with its extensive development experience, has stepped into this complex technical field by providing its own penetrating account of how strengthened patent rules will affect the health of ordinary people, particularly those living in poor countries. Oxfam's briefing paper shows how new global patent rules, introduced by the World Trade Organisation, will raise the costs of vital medicines, with potentially disastrous implications for poor countries. In brief, these rules require all countries to provide patent protection for a minimum of 20 years for inventions in all fields of technology, including medicines.