Transparency Compared: FTAA vs. ACTA

Jamie Love has a great post comparing the level of transparency during the FTAA negotiations with the ACTA talks.  Several drafts of the FTAA agreement were released to the public, refuting claims that ACTA secrecy is standard practice.


  1. Standard Practice?
    First of all, what is meant by standard practice? If, by standard practice, you mean that it always occurs this way, then the comparison is valid. However, if not, then the comparison against a single treaty is not the most convincing. Sure, for FTAA draft documents were released. All parties to the negotiations agreed. Is this the case, however, for ACTA? Of course, FTAA has been under negotiation since 1998 with no end in sight…

    While an interesting comparison, to me all that it shows is that one of the two is likely atypical, nothing more, nothing less. Which one I am not sure about. I think a better comparison would have been to compare to the releasing of draft treaties for a number of free-trade agreements involving the ACTA countries, especially recent ones involving the US where they tried to push American-style IP laws onto the country they were negotiating with.

  2. @Anon-K
    Do you think national security type secrecy is standard practice for a trade agreement? When industry lobbyists have full access to it?

    I don’t think it’s hard to see which one is outside the norm.

  3. Devil's Advocate says:

    Secrecy IS “Standard” for All NWO “Trade Talks”
    While we may have been let in on some benign details to some of these “trade talks” in the past, we have always been deliberately kept from hearing what they were really talking about.

    The same “elites”, who form everything from the CFR to the Bilderberg Group, and who own all the big banks and mainstream media companies, have been holding these regular meetings for years. Every time one of these sessions finishes, a small piece of the world’s democracy disappears.

    Their aim is to dissolve all sovereignties and run the world as one corporate administration. The writing’s been on the wall for at least 60 years, but most people have no motivation to follow it, an have no idea what’s happening, and would dismiss what I’m saying as some “nutjob conspiracy theory”. Yet, read David Rockefeller’s own words…

    “We are grateful to the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost 40 years……It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supernational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national autodetermination practiced in past centuries.”
    – David Rockefeller, Trilateral Commission meeting, June 1991

  4. @Jesse
    Frankly, it is hard to argue that using “national security” is a valid way to shut it off (I personally think it is a completely bogus way; this should have required the corporate interests to have required a security clearance to get in, not just sign an NDA), but regardless, my point stands. Can someone really declare that one is “standard” and the other not simply by comparing the two? Compare a number of treaties, in particular similar ones, and then you could state “standard”. Just because it doesn’t meet with your expectations does not necessarily make it non-standard.

    Now, does ATCA need to be opened up? Yes. But that is not what I am stating here. I am questioning the methodology used to declare the ACTA negotiations non-standard. I would ask for a wider range of comparisons prior to making that statement.

    I can understand the desire to close off the draft ATCA text. As I indicated, FTAA has been in negotiation for over 10 years using the open draft policy. At one time it was stalled for a couple of years. If one uses the example of FTAA as an example of the “standard” outcome of an open draft negotiation, frankly if you hope to ever conclude the treaty you’d stay away from that format. Oh, the public is happy, but it appears that it gets you no closer to where you want to be at the end of the day.

  5. Chris Brand says:

    Who is it that wants ACTA ?
    Anon-K’s last sentence is telling – “Oh, the public is happy, but it appears that it gets you no closer to where you want to be at the end of the day.”. I can’t help but agree. It does highlight, though, that “the public” (aka “citizens”) are not the people who want ACTA. Any trade agreement in a democracy should make (a good proportion of) *the public* happy, not just multinational corporations.

  6. RE: Who is it that wants ACTA?
    I agree, more or less. But lets not forget that in any treaty negotiations there are a minimum of two governments involved. Those governments need to represent not only the people but also the corporations of the country (collectively the citizens). I add the corporations as they have many of the same rights and obligations as the people; in essence they are sort of a person, and (at least in the US) afforded citizenship rights. You are correct that the majority of the people don’t want ACTA to be the way it is going with respect to policies (DMCA, 3 accusations, etc), however the corporations which do have legal citizenship status do. And they pay a lot of tax deductable money to various politicians to make sure the government in the US wants it that way as well.

    The governments of the countries involved may not be representative democracies, either. For instance, if memory serves, ACTA includes Saudi Arabia, which is not a democracy, it is an absolute monarchy.

  7. Corporate personhood
    If corporations are citizens, then they are legislated psychotic citizens. Have you seen the documentary The Corporation? Do.

    You can’t just wave a magic wand, make corporations into “people” (a ridiculous legal concept at the root of much of the problems with corporatism today), yet free from any of the social pressures that cause people to act ethically, and then expect because of this bit of legal legerdemain, the will of the vast majority of the actual flesh-and-blood people doesn’t need to be regarded first and foremost anymore. That’s really a despicable argument.

  8. Wizard Prang says:

    Wrong on both counts.
    Governments do not represent Corporations – that’s why they need Guilds, associations and lobbyists. The word “Corporation” is not found anywhere in the U.S. Constitution.

    Corporations are not people. They do not get a vote. Most of our problems with corporate misbehavior stems from a selective “it-wasn’t-the-CEO-it-was-the-corporation” misunderstanding of this rule.