While it's not clear that it's done much, at least at the last few ACTA negotiation meetings, time has been set aside for various "civil society groups" to meet with
the negotiators and ask some questions. Apparently, the ACTA negotiators would rather not do that anymore. Sean Flynn has detailed just how difficult the negotiators made it for such groups to attend the latest meeting
in Tokyo. Everyone knew that the meeting was happening in Tokyo, but the rumors were that it started next week. Nope. At the last minute, it came out that they actually start on Thursday of this week -- and that info wasn't released publicly until it was effectively too late for most to get a ticket to get to Japan:
You can't book a plane trip if you don't when to book it for. It takes 15- 20 hours to fly to Japan from the east coast of the U.S. and you land a day after you take off. So U.S. groups that want to attend the meeting at the start of it -- you needed to buy your ticket when the announcement hit after 3pm yesterday and be on a plane now. If you want to go to the one hour civil society meeting, you need to leave by tomorrow. Those that have bought a ticket likely have one for next week -- when everyone thought the negotiation would be. So they will miss the civil society meeting.
Figuring out that the announcement of the date of the meeting was made yesterday was no easy feat. Two individuals (myself and Malini Aisola from KEI) inquiring with USTR yesterday about the meeting were first told that they had to contact the Japanese Embassy for information on the meeting. We were given the name of Mr. Kazuyuki Takimi, First Secretary, Economic Section, Embassy of Japan, Kazuyuki.Takimi@mofa.go.jp, 202-238-6729.
Mr. Takimi said he did not know when the meeting was going to be held because he had not spoken to "Tokyo" lately. He said he recalled it might be meeting on September 23, but could not confirm. He said he had no agenda and no knowledge of any civil society meeting opportunity.
Nice of them, huh? Flynn also notes that while an agenda has been posted on the USTR website, it's almost impossible to find:
If you want to laugh -- go to that site and try to find the agenda. It is not in any of the press releases on the top or bottom of the site. It is not the prominent link on the left for the agenda to the 5th Round -- that was in 1999. It is not in the upper right hand or left hand boxes where the recent announcements are. Still looking? It starts with the 372nd word in the background essay in the middle page.
Of course, if you do find the agenda
(pdf), you discover it's nothing substantial at all. It basically just says they'll be meeting pretty much every day.
Considering that almost everyone agrees the Tokyo meetings are intended to "finalize" the (still secret) agreement, it looks like ACTA maybe going out the same way it came into life: in near total secrecy, without involving rather important stakeholders representing the people ACTA will impact the most. What a disgraceful process.