Int'l Christian Groups Gear Up for Fair Trade Campaign at WTO Hong Kong

Christian organizations worldwide are preparing trade justice campaigns in the run up to the high-profile World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting next week in Hong Kong.

Christian organizations worldwide are preparing trade justice campaigns in the run up to the high-profile World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting next week in Hong Kong.

The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA) – an international alliance of 85 churches and church-related organizations – has announced a list of faith-based events to be held in Hong Kong organized by its member organizations on the course to the WTO meeting on Dec. 13-18.

Highlighted events to be held include the Conference on "Globalizing Economic Justice and Social Sustainability," organized by Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) on Dec. 9-11. Thematic presentations on a wide range of aspects are to be given, so that the participating churches will integrate these issues into mainstream of Church’s ministry and play an active role to assist the struggling people.

Another conference, entitled "International Ecumenical Women's Forum on Life-Promoting Trade," on Dec. 12-14 is sponsored by several international ecumenical organizations, including the EAA; CCA; the World Council of Churches (WCC); the Hong Kong Christian Institute (HKCI); the Hong Women’s Christian Council (HKWCC); the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC); the Lutheran World Federation (LWF); the World YWCA; the World YMCA; the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF)-Asia Pacific; the Association of Christian Institutes for Social Concern in Asia (ACISCA); and the Swiss Federation of Protestant Churches (FEPS).

The conference will offer women an opportunity to speak about their experience in society and to look into how women can join in trade justice advocacy through the church.

A number of conferences will also be held alongside with the WTO meeting. APRODEV (Association of World Council of Churches related Development Organizations in Europe) will organize a lunch conference on Dec. 15 at the YMCA Headquarters in Hong Kong with the theme "Ethics and the WTO Negotiations - Church Leaders speak out." Dr. Izak P. Lambe, Communion of churches in Indonesia and V. Devasahayam, Bishop in Madras of the church of South India are invited as guess speakers.

Meanwhile, a whole day conference, "Peace for Life Roundtable - WTO, the Empire and Religious Wars: Taking the Faith Communities to the Front Lines," is to be held the same day by Peace for Life – a global faith-based initiative involving the National Council of Churches in the Philippines.

EAA called for a Day of Prayer on Trade on Dec. 11, one day after the International Human Rights Day. EAA has identified two particular areas of concern in human rights in relation to trade justice, namely the rights to access medical care and the rights to obtain sufficient food. A set of worship materials are published by EEA on its website to assist Christians around the world to participant in the event.

Churches, Christian NGOs and other civil groups based in Hong Kong and Asia, are mobilized to campaign for trade justice under the banner of the Hong Kong People’s Alliance (HKPA) on WTO as well.

“HKPA on WTO” is a national campaign under the Global Call to Action against Poverty – a worldwide alliance committed to making world leaders live up to their promises, and to making a breakthrough on poverty in 2005.

On White Band Day 3, Dec. 10, declared by GCAP, massive rallies are expected to be seen in Hong Kong to put pressure on world leaders to make trade policies work for the poor.

The faith-based organizations within the HKPA include the Christian Conference of Asia: Urban Rural Mission division, Justice (CCA- URM); Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese; Student Christian Movement of Hong Kong; and others.