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A Selection of Articles from GreenNet News: Summer 1992

Contents:

How to stay in touch with UNCED
FIDO LINKS TO AFRICA, PHILIPPINES AND exYUGOSLAVIA
International Trade Agreements Threaten Environment and Development
HURIDOCS Conference

How to stay in touch with UNCED
Dubbed the 'Earth Summit', the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 3- 14, will see the launch of an Earth Charter outlining how nations can balance environmental concerns with development interests for a sustainable future. The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) is playing a major role in providing communications services for environmentalists, development specialists, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and individual activists before, during and after the event. Individuals participating in the UNCED conferences on the APC networks can influence worldwide discussions on the most vital issues of our time. By providing electronic mail and conferencing, AlterNex has been selected to provide communications services for non- governmental organizations at UNCED itself. Workstations will be available at several locations around Rio so that up-to-the-minute information about the event can be received and transmitted continuously.

FIDO LINKS TO AFRICA, PHILIPPINES AND exYUGOSLAVIA
Various links between APC systems and African, Asian and East European 'Fido' systems have been established over the last 18 months. We now have easy addressing facilities for most of these systems and user lists for the African systems are now available on GreenNet under the (u)ser option on the main menu.
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International Trade Agreements Threaten Environment and Development
We all see the headlines about the complicated negotiations for GATT (General Agreement on Trade & Tariffs) taking place in distant lands. Environmentalists, trade unions, farmers, lawmakers and other groups are concerned about the serious consequences of accepting current free trade agreements. But many of us do not have the time to follow these complicated subjects. Now it's possible. The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) has started a daily news service in the new conference, trade.news. The bulletin summarizes the latest developments in international trade. IATP compiles news stories from around the world and re-writes them into short, readable summaries. IATP looks at how some trade agreements take advantage of laws in other countries to maximize corporate profits. GATT, for example, is an international trade accord involving over 100 countries that would seriously undermine efforts to promote ecological, environmental and food-safety standards by establishing an international set of standards decided on by multi-national corporations and which are often lower than those established by individual governments.
If an exploitative, dangerous means of production is banned in the United States, a company can set up shop in a poorer, more desperate country that can't afford to say no. Similarly, import and export bans aimed at preserving the environment (including bans on hardwood export and dolphin-protecting tuna netting laws) could be reversed if such treaties are put into place. Other impacts of GATT and its microcosm counterpart, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), include forcing countries to pay unaffordable patent compensation to pharmaceutical companies, effectively preventing Third World nations from developing their own basic medicines. GATT also proposes the creation of a Multilateral Trade Organization (MTO), which would further decrease the voice of the people. Multi- national corporations free to exploit labour, dump toxics, ravage the environment - all in the name of higher profits - will find the temptation too great. To keep track of these and other key trade issues, read the daily trade.news bulletin.
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HURIDOCS Conference
Manda Brookman (manda@gn), GreenNet support staff, and Debra Guzman (hrcoord@igc) IGC Network's Human Rights Coordinator, went to Crete to participate in the HURIDOCS (Human Rights Documentation System) Conference May 4 to 7 along with representatives from local, national and international human rights organizations concerned with information and documentation. Manda and Debra will be producing a report from the conference with particular focus on use of electronic mail, conferencing and databases by human rights groups, contact them at their email addresses above if you would like to receive a copy. (Our thanks to Student Human Rights Exchange (SHARE) for their contribution towards Debra's and Manda's travel costs.)
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