So far largely overlooked -- even by many of the presumably sympathetic environmental, human rights, labor, and anti-globalization activists gathering in Washington this week in advance of the Apr. 16 and 17 meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund -- is a remarkable international economic measure adopted in Durban, South Africa, last week. A resolution adopted unanimously on Apr. 7 by the 17th World Congress of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions is organized labor's most comprehensive expression yet of its global economic agenda. It calls for:
- Creating a "formal, permanent" working group within the World Trade Organization that, among other actions, would propose guidelines for incorporating labor standards into trade agreements.
- Allowing less-developed economies "time and space for [their] national companies to develop before being fully exposed to global competition from large and well-established multinational corporations."
- Granting greater market access and "fair-trade incentives" for economically developing nations that "respect" workers' rights.
- Finding a "far reaching solution to the crushing burden of debt" carried by developing nations.