WTO Protest:Is Violence Justified?

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WTO Protest:Is Violence Justified?

Almost two years ago, the media covered the protests against the WTO meeting in Seattle. These protests were led by organizations such as the Sierra Club and called for an end to globalization; the system of global free trade that they believe is destroying both the environment and indigenous cultures in order to feed the unquenchable hunger of modern consumerism. These protests turned violent quickly, as anticipated, and chaos soon enveloped the conference. There is no question that the protests had the right to protest, however, the violence within these protests is worthy of analysis. There are two main questions that must be answered: why did the protests turn violent and is the violence theologically justified?

The WTO: What it Is, What it Does

The Self-Description – “The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. The goal is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business.” (1) For more information see: http://www.wto.org/english/res_e/doload_e/inbr_e.pdf

The Opponents-Description – “The World Trade Organization was founded in 1994 as the successor to GATT (General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs), an obscure, Geneva-based organization that had been charged since the end of World War II with gradually reducing international tariffs. The original WTO treaty was seven years in the making and 22,000 pages long. The WTO’s stated mission is to referee the global economy, to provide a “level playing field” for all compet...

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...st, present and future.


1. “What is the WTO?” http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/whatis_e/whatis_e.htm

2. John Tarleton. “Love and Rage in Seattle: The Day the WTO Stood Still” December 1999. http://www.cybertraveler.org/wto.html

3. Gustavo Gutierrez, A Theology of Liberation. (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1988), 63-64.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. “Why the Christian Church is not Pacifist” in The Essential Reinhold Niebuhr, ed. Robert McAfee Brown. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986), 103-105.

7. Ibid., 106-107.

8. Ibid., 111.

9. Reinhold Niebuhr, Christianity and Power Politics. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1940), 14-16.

10. John Howard Yoder, “Reinhold Niebuhr and Christian Pacifism,” Mennonite Quarterly Review. April 1955, 104-105.

11. Ibid., 112-113.

12. Ibid., 114.

13. Ibid., 115-116.

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