Agricultural trade could play a key role in the fight against poverty. But in practice the rules which govern world agricultural trade benefit the rich rather than the poor. Rich countries spend vast sums of money protecting the interests of their producers, while at the same time forcing poor countries to open their markets to subsidised imports. Achieving an equitable outcome from the WTO agricultural negotiations will be a litmus test of the so-called Doha Development Round. Developing countries should not sign a new agricultural agreement if their vital development needs are not adequately addressed.
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Oxfam is deeply concerned about the appalling toll being paid by the civilian population on both sides of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The recent escalation of the conflict has created a serious humanitarian crisis for the Palestinian population living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. New research by Oxfam and its partners on the impact of the Israeli government’s policy of closure finds thousands of rural households in the West Bank on the brink of destitution. Away from the media spotlight, the families of farmers, unemployed labourers and small businessmen in these often neglected Palestinian villages have run out of savings and sold off land and livestock.
There is no doubt that abhorrent acts of September 11, and the international response, has significantly changed the western world’s most commonly held views on peace, security and justice. There is now a much greater understanding and sensitivity to the deep structural imbalances and historic animosities that fuel violence and extremism. But as stated by Kofi Annan, September 11 did not change the world. In most ways, and for the vast majority of people, the world today looks very similar to how it looked on September 10 2001. What has changed since September 11 is the political context for international action, and the prospects for addressing some of the underlying and chronic imbalances that continue to undermine global security. Oxfam and International Actions's Ten Point Plan proposes taking concrete steps that show real progress on issues including the rebuilding of Afghanistan, ending profiteering from war and discrimination against women. To do otherwise would risk exacerbating the tensions that continue to undermine global security and prosperity.