Holy See (The Pope) Criticizes TPP And TAFTA/TTIP In WTO Speech

from the nobody-expects-the-Spanish-Inquisition-or-Holy-See dept

There’s no shortage of critics of massive trade agreements like TPP and TAFTA/TTIP, but today saw strong condemnation from a very unexpected quarter: the Holy See, often, if erroneously, equated with the Vatican. Whatever the jurisdictional differences, the statement delivered by His Excellency Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva at the 9th Session of the Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization presumably comes with the full approval of Pope Francis himself. We can assume that because of the extremely controversial statements it contains, which would have required approval at the highest level. Things like this:

While a minority is experiencing exponential growth in wealth, the gap is widening to separate the vast majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies that defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and of financial speculation. Consequently, there is an outright rejection of the right of States, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. An even worse development is that such policies are sometimes locked in through trade rules negotiated at the WTO or in bilateral or regional FTAs.

The statement then goes on to criticize the move away from multilateral trade agreements of the kind traditionally drawn up at the WTO, to new-style “mega-regional trade agreements”, routinely negotiated in secret:

Currently there is a clear tendency to further enlarge these RTAs [Regional Trade Agreements] to form mega-regional trade agreements such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Certainly, the enlargement of regional trade agreements is a step towards further trade liberalization but we have to bear in mind that these agreements inevitably threaten the desirability to reach an agreement on a truly multilateral basis. In fact, by entering a regional trade agreement a country reduces the incentives to extend its efforts on trade liberalization at a multilateral level.

Here’s why the Holy See believes RTAs and mega-RTAs are problematic:

we know that only the multilateral system is a clear, equitable system that provides effective guarantees for small and poor countries that tend to be penalized in a Regional Trade Agreement where it is asymmetric. Among the most damaging concessions developing countries make in regional and bilateral agreements are those enhancing the monopolies on life-saving medicines, which reduce access and affordability and those that provide excessive legal rights to foreign investors, limiting the policy space for nations to promote sustainable and inclusive development.

“Enhancing the monopolies on life-saving medicines” is a clear swipe at TPP, which aims to do precisely that, with what are likely to be terrible and even fatal consequences for the poor in the Pacific region. And the phrase “excessive legal rights to foreign investors, limiting the policy space for nations to promote sustainable and inclusive development” is obviously a reference to the imposition of corporate sovereignty clauses in both TPP and TAFTA/TTIP.

It’s unlikely that the Holy See’s intervention at the WTO meeting in Bali will have any direct effects on either the TPP or TAFTA/TTIP negotiations, but it does signal two important facts. First, that Pope Francis is emerging as a passionate defender of the world’s poor, and one who is not afraid to speak truth to even the most powerful nations; and secondly, that resistance to the most unjust and unjustifiable aspects of TPP and TAFTA/TTIP continues to grow.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

Filed Under: , , , , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Holy See (The Pope) Criticizes TPP And TAFTA/TTIP In WTO Speech”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

the pity is that the Pope only ‘speaks to God’. the USA in general and the USTR in particular, thinks it IS GOD and therefore, whatever it says goes, regardless of the consequences for anyone else, whether poor, sick or not! basically, it’s trying to turn the planet into a ‘one country rules everyone, everywhere and the rest of the planet is to be 3rd world’!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“the USA in general … thinks it IS GOD and … it’s trying to turn the planet into a ‘one country rules everyone, everywhere and the rest of the planet is to be 3rd world’!

Each country should be looking out for their best interests. This part of what you said isn’t the problem. The problem is they’re closing the doors on Congress to do what they are supposed to do and make laws to protect this country. If they can’t oppose international trade agreements, and those agreements contain specific laws, that then binds Congress and restricts their power, which is the real problem.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

SOPA is not what he is shooting at. It is much more specific to TPP in particular and ACTA. TTIP barely qualifies as this type of agreement.

Most of what the guy says will never change: Large countries screwing over small countries is a fact of life. Tribunals on the other hand is a massive threat to the democratic powers in the world. Especially when handling agreements between the few solidly democratically controlled countries. It will help in autocracies and semi-anarchies, but in real democracies they can only hurt the general populations on account of short term trade increases.

silverscarcat (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Isn’t that impossible though? I mean, the book IS well over 2000 years old.

Even by today’s copyright standards, there’s no way to copyright it.

That would be like trying to copyright the epic of Gilgamesh, the story of Avalon, tales of Hercules or the legend of Beowulf.

Far too long since the story ended for copyright to cover it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Not really, all they have to do is re-translate the bible and it qualifies for copyright under US law.

If interested, this includes the NIV and the NKJV. I think these are two of the more popular translations. Look for the “Copyright status” on the sidebar.

But they’re not that strict about distribution as you can access both versions at places like http://www.biblegateway.com. It seems that they do see benefits of getting the word out…

The Real Michael says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

God didn’t write the Bible; rather, men wrote it with God’s guidance.

I’m very pleased that Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi is speaking out against these draconian treaties, exposing them for what they really are: wealthy corporations looking to extend their monopolies at the expense of the poor and the middle class. Corporates value their profit margins more than human rights, as is apparent by their actions.

Major says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

But just imagine the implication if he was ! :

Light shine upon the world and GOD come back among us !
He came back with an army of men who wore clothes of black fabric, and then he spoke to all mankind :
– “BAM ! I sue every people who worshiped me and their descendant for 2000+ year of royalties !”
The black army then slowly start to advance taking every possessions as the people wept. One of them asked :
– Why GOD ?, OH GOD WHY ?! Who are those harbinger of sorrow ?
– “Oh those guys ? those are just my lawyers ! There was no more room in hell so i just, like, redeemed them !”
And then he turn back fading, but just before he disapeared :
– “Oh and i trademark the word GOD too !”.

Ps. : Ok sorry its not possible… he would probably have been double-crossed already. POW !

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The only ones today who copyright their versions are the big porn producers, since it is such a money spinner for them.

The owner of the copyright of the original bible texts has a philosophy of

“Freely you have received, then freely you give.”

and has placed it in the public domain for all men to read, learn and seek salvation from it.

Blaise Alleyne (profile) says:

Re: Re:

> I’m not surprised the Holy See is full of freetards. They haven’t even bothered to copyright the Bible.

If only that were true…

The [New] Revised Standard Version Bible may be quoted and/or reprinted up to and inclusive of five hundred (500) verses without express written permission of the publisher, provided the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible or account for fifty percent (50%) of the total work in which they are quoted.

See also:

Anonymous Coward says:

This Pope is the first one in many years I can appreciate and respect. If you have read any of his writings, he is really good, and makes a lot of sense. Sure wish people would listen to him, but I don’t hold out much hope. The US, especially, but also most politicians in the world think they know more and are smarter and wiser than The Pope. More’s the pity…they ain’t.

erikjay (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Oh, for crying out loud. The Pope is an economic illiterate. The global poverty rate has been halved in just the last 25 years. China alone, by opening up just slightly to freer markets, has lifted almost 700 million people out of poverty in a generation, fastest ever. The freer people are, the more productive, and the more caring about the environment — poor nations that adopt environmental regulations will stay both dirty AND poor. All of a sudden the entire progressive clone army loves the Pope. He is a total dipstick, and embarrassingly wrong.

Blaise Alleyne (profile) says:

The Holy See: Pope Francis is picking up on Pope Benedict

Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in veritate:

“On the part of rich countries there is excessive zeal for protecting knowledge through an unduly rigid assertion of the right to intellectual property, especially in the field of health care.”

These concerns of the Holy See are not new:

The Real Michael says:

When was the last time they pushed for a treaty to help the poor, the sick, the homeless? When was the last time they pushed for a treaty to protect human rights (without misappropriating the terminology to force through their own agenda)? Are large corporations and pharmaceuticals, which have already amassed trillions of dollars in assets and often utilize slave labor and sweatshops, more equal than everyone else?

Maria (user link) says:

TPP is a mistake! no more hands-off corporate access!

As TPP negotiators meet in Singapore and Congress enters its last working week this year, it is time to keep up the pressure! Since November 14th, 262 signatures! Add yours – TPP is a mistake! Mutual gain means regulated trade, not hands-off corporate access!


Prince Coiff la Bouche says:


As usual, the comparisons with other popes are superficial. Doctrinally, no pope is ever different from any other unless he happens to pronounce something as doctrinal (which is never something hasn’t been already accepted by the church previously). Francis only differs in style from Benedict or JPII, but that’s to be expected since no two people are the same. Furthermore, different issues are the concerns for different popes at different times. Unfortunately, people are superficial and ignorant and don’t bother reading encyclicals. If they did, and understood them, they’d see a very high degree of similarity.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...