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International Responsibilities Task Force
of the American Library Association's
Social Responsibilities Round Table

Resolution on the Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI)
 
The following resolution was endorsed by the elected representatives of the Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT) on June 27, 1998. SRRT is a body within the American Library Association but does not and should not be taken to speak for the Association as a whole. In this resolution SRRT speaks only on its own behalf.
Social Responsibilites Round Table Newsletter, No. 129, September 1998 (p. 2).

 

WHEREAS the Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI) is a pending global trade agreement which will require signatory governments to relinquish a degree of sovereignty to multinational corporations; and


WHEREAS the MAI is being negotiated in secret under the auspices of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a grouping of the world's 29 wealthiest countries; and


WHEREAS the MAI will require governments to provide equal treatment for domestic and foreign businesses, meaning that laws offering preferential treatment to businesses or organizations in a given locale or situation would be subject to lawsuits to be heard in courts and as-of-yet unnamed international tribunals, opening them up to unlimited liability for the continuation of democratically created laws; and


WHEREAS the MAI is intended to apply to all levels of government (national, regional, local, community) regardless of whether or not the governmental body in question ratified the treaty, meaning that local ordinances may be challenged by multinational corporations; and


WHEREAS many public and academic libraries receive the majority of their funding from governmental bodies, who will be constrained in the policy-making arena by the threat of foreign corporations taking legal action against them if they feel local interests are being placed ahead of their "rights"; and


WHEREAS the MAI will apply retroactively to contracts and laws implemented before the MAI is ratified; and


WHEREAS the MAI is anti-democratic and gives multinational corporations rights that citizens to not have while absolving them of most responsibilities; and


WHEREAS libraries and librarians are vital components in maintaining democratic systems by providing the information needed to maintain an informed and involved populace, and so have a significant stake in rebuffing attacks on democracy and the power of citizens to control their lives; and


WHEREAS the British Columbia Library Association Executive has already voiced its opposition to MAI; therefore be it


RESOLVED that the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association declares its opposition to the continued negotiation of the MAI until such time as the negotiations are opened up to representation by developing countries and by non-governmental organizations dedicated to protecting intellectual freedom, environmental, labor and consumer interests; and be it further


RESOLVED that SRRT urges the ALA Council, current President, and Presidents-Elect to publicly oppose MAI as a threat to democratic values, local autonomy, and human rights.

 

 
 
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