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November 22, 1999

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WTO STRIKES AT HEART OF SOVEREIGNTY

The World Trade Organization, which meets in Seattle later this month, has become increasingly powerful in the past few years and this is raising the political stakes for governments and interest groups, says political scientist Dr. Michael Webb. He adds the Seattle ministerial meeting and the proposed millennium round of trade negotiations will be the most contentious to date "Prior to 1994, before the WTO evolved from the general agreement on tariffs and trades (GATT), the organization didn't strike so close to the heart of national sovereignty. But the WTO goes far beyond traditional trade issues and has ruled against national policies in many areas, including the European Union's ban on beef raised with growth hormones and Canada's attempts to regulate advertising content in Canadian magazines."

Webb, who specializes in the politics of international trade and organizations, adds the Seattle meeting will see intense debates between richer and poorer countries over environmental and labour standards, and over the failure of rich countries to fully open their markets to free trade with developing countries. At the same time, the Seattle meetings will see unprecedented debates between governments and business groups which want to extend the WTO's powers to further liberalize trade and investment; and environmentalists, labour activists, and nationalist groups which want to curb the powers of the WTO to overrule the decisions of democratic governments. [PP]

  Media Contacts:
Dr. Michael Webb (political science) at (250) 721-7492, or by e-mail at mwebb@uvic.ca

WTO ON VERGE OF "NEW GLOBAL CONSTITUTIONAL ORDER"

The millennium round of negotiations being launched in Seattle at the latest round of WTO talks is the equal of "creating a global constitutional order which is completely unacceptable," says UVic's eco-research chair in environmental law and policy Prof. Michael M'Gonigle. He argues that such an agreement is bereft of citizen involvement and doesn't reflect the environmental, economic and political concerns of individual regions and nations. M'Gonigle, a strong advocate of more resource control at the community level, adds that under pressure from Canada, the WTO is poised to act against the world-wide movement to recognize forestry products produced under strict eco-friendly conditions. "Under prodding from Canada, the WTO will address demands to make governmental reliance on independent eco-certification illegal, equating it to trade unless, of with a technical barrier course, the WTO approves the use of these green labels which it is unlikely to do." M'Gonigle will attend a pre-WTO conference of the International Network of Forests and Communities. [PP]   Media Contacts:
Prof. Michael M'Gonigle (law) at (250) 721-8184 or Liz Wheaton (eco-research chair) at (250) 721-6388.

FACSIMILE GUTENBERG BIBLE ON DISPLAY

Rarely does one get a chance to lay eyes on the first book in the Western world printed in moveable type. On display now until Christmas just outside UVic Special Collections in the McPherson Library is the next best thing&emdash;a painstakingly accurate facsimile edition of the 1456, 42-line Bible printed by Johannes Gutenberg, the most influential person of the millennium. According to hundreds of journalists, scholars and political leaders polled by the Arts and Entertainment network "Biography" program, Gutenberg is the person in the last 1,000 years who has done the most to shape our world today. The facsimile Bible, published in three volumes by Brussel & Brussel, N.Y., in 1968, was donated to UVic in 1994 by university benefactors Dr. Bruce and Dorothy Brown.

The Gutenberg Bible facsimile is available for public viewing Mondays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Fridays 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Also on permanent display in UVic Special Collections is a selection of other items donated by the Browns, including: an ancient cuneiform tablet, an Egyptian hieroglyph, a rare map of Edinburgh, a Tudor document, a medal commemorating one of Lord Nelson's military victories, and a document signed by Abraham Lincoln. Special Collections is open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The internet site is http://uviclib.uvic.ca/spcoll/sc.html.

  Media Contacts:
Chris Petter, UVic Special Collections Librarian at 721-8275.

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