Trade, Democracy, and the FTAA: Public Access to the Process of Constructing a Free Trade Area of the Americas
Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law
February 1, 2004
Fordham International Law Journal, Vol. 27, No. 3, pp. 1066-1117, 2004
The construction of international trade accords has sparked controversy among a range of critics concerned with competing economic and social priorities. This dispute over a “free trade” agenda occasionally spills into the streets as the debate gains a public platform during high profile multilateral trade talks. In the Western Hemisphere, controversy surrounded the negotiation of a proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) for over a decade. As street protests carried a broad message of opposition to a general audience, others concerned with the accord sought to engage negotiators directly – both to influence specific aspects of the proposed agreement and to “democratize” the negotiation process itself. This article explores these competing (and complementary) models of public discourse and public deliberation about international trade through the study of non-state actor access to the FTAA negotiations. The article traces the history of efforts by NGOs other civil society actors to engage trade negotiators and influence the FTAA text. It also details a mechanism for access to ministerial meetings that emerged in later stages of the FTAA negotiating process. This mechanism was designed by a transboundary network of non-state actors in collaboration with senior government officials. Through the lens of this experience, the article explores normative and practical issues surrounding public access to the process of making international treaties which is traditionally reserved to states. It also reveals the impact of a transboundary network of non-state actors on one of the more insular areas of international lawmaking: trade negotiations. Prospects for an FTAA have diminished in recent years as inter-governmental disputes over the terms of multilateral trade have paralyzed progress. But lessons learned about non-state access to the FTAA negotiating process offer enduring insights for those concerned with public participation in matters of international trade and international lawmaking.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 53
Keywords: International Law, International Trade, Transboundary Advocacy Networks, Trade Negotiations, Law and Democracy, International Environmental Law, Public Participation, Non-state Actors, Non-Governmental Organizations, NGOs, Access to Decision-Making, Organization of American States, OAS
JEL Classification: F02, F10, F15, K33Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: May 7, 2009
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