RN: using law to stop economic genocide


Jan Slakov

Dear RN list,    Feb. 7

Below, a timely message from an rn subscriber who suggests we look seriously
at using legal means to bring an end to the willful destruction of
national/regional economies which leaves untold misery in its wake. And
following that, another endorsement for a very similar idea, from none other
than Michel Chossudovsky.

all the best, jan
Note: Chossudovsky writes:
"Similarly, in the context of the global financial crisis, (eg. the brutal
onslaught of currency speculation in Brazil), it is also important to
challenge the legality of international rules, financial mechanisms and
other regulations governing the movement of capital, including speculative
capital. The latter are largely responsible for the collapse of national
currencies in all major regions of the World with devastating economic and
social consequences."


Date: Fri, 05 Feb 1999 21:18:35 +0000
From: Lawrence Court <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: solidarity with Brazil

Dear rn,

People in Europe often look with disbelief at the 'litigation mania' in the
USA.  But I wonder whether it could be used to advantage.

I'm not in a position to check out the following: perhaps someone who is
nearer to the centre of things - eg NY, NY - could check this out.

What I have in mind is a class action on behalf of the Brazilian people
against the IMF and its collaborators.  Charges - in my layman's terms -
could include conspiracy, fraud, theft, embezzlement etc.  Presumably the
action could ask for some sort of embargo on the assets of the defendants.
And an injunction could be pursued to prevent such action being repeated in
the future.

If some such action was able to commence, I'm sure that other aggrieved
peoples would join in - eg from SE Asia.  The effect would be profound and
far-reaching.  Not only would it expose what has been going on, for the
whole world to see, and enable a fight-back by the people, but also it
would act as a deterrent in regard to future action of a similar kind.

I wouldn't characterise what's been, and still is, going on as 'financial
warfare'; rather it is ECONOMIC GENOCIDE.

It well past time that the perpetrators were dealt with.  And if it cannot
be done legally through the courts, then I see no alternative to more
extreme action.


Lawrence Court
Date:   Sat, 6 Feb 1999 23:00:43 -0400 (AST)
Reply-To: Antoni Wysocki <•••@••.•••>
Subject: constitutionality of MAI (fwd)

Hi folks,

Since the collapse last fall of MAI negotiations at the OECD I haven't
sent out much information on the subject. As I stressed at the time,
however, if that specific instrument has received its quietus the same
cannot be said for the issues which it gave rise to (and which gave rise
to it). 

To take up some of my own slack in this regard I am presently e-mailing
two MAI-related posts.

In the first Michel Chossudovsky descants on a lawsuit currently
proceeding in the Federal Court of Canada. The suit charges that Ottawa
has not the authority under the constitution to negotiate such treaties as
the MAI. When Chossudovsky was in Halifax in January he told me that he
was very excited about this case and his enthusiasm is palpable in the
present paper.




        by Michel Chossudovsky 
        Professor of Economics, University of Ottawa, Canada, 

This text can be forward and/or posted. 

An important citizens' initiative is underway in Canada which challenges
the legitimacy of the Canadian government to negotiate the Multilateral
Agreement on Investment (MAI). 

The initiative questions the authority of the federal government to
negotiate an international treaty which derogates fundamental rights as
contained in Canada's Constitution.

The Defence of Canadian Liberty Committee (DCLC) based in Vancouver, BC
has taken the federal government to court. The judicial application was
launched in April 1998. The Defence of Canadian Liberty Committee has
commenced proceedings in the Federal Court of Canada, (trial division),
No.  T-790-98. Initiating documents were filed and served on April

According to the DCLC: "The MAI is unconstitutional under Canadian law
because it gives entrenched rights to international banks and foreign
corporations guaranteed by international law which Canadian citizens do
not have...This is contrary to the principle of equality before the law
which is part of the Canadian constitution enshrined in the Charter of
Rights and Freedoms",

The Applicants challenge the jurisdiction of the federal government to
sign a treaty, in the form of a Multilateral Agreement on Investment, on
behalf of Canada which "would be outside of the power granted by and ultra
vires of the Constitution Acts of 1867 and 1982 and that, generally, such
a treaty would not be in the best interests of Canadian citizens". 

The legal challenge constitutes more than an embarrassment to the
government's negotiating team headed by Trade Minister Serge Marchi, it
underscores the blatant violation of democratic procedures; it questions
the honesty of elected politicians and bureaucrats involved in behind the
scenes negotiations including consultations with international business

"The government of Canada has no authority to sign a treaty without a
mandate from Parliament. To do so is a violation of the fundamental
principles of democracy and representative government. Exercise of
prerogative power must be subject to the Constitution". 

Three top lawyers well versed in constitutional and human rights issues
are acting on behalf of the DCLC. Government witnesses have been
interrogated, the submission of confidential government documents have
been demanded by the Applicants' lawyers. At the hearings in Vancouver,
the federal government witness provided many new documents, most of which
were heavily censored with large portions blacked out. 

The government is now attempting through various means to stall the legal
challenge and prevent it from going to the trial stage. Already the
government has been calling for adjournments,... 

Assigned to the court case in the January 1998 hearings in Vancouver was
Judge Dube, a former Cabinet Minister and personal friend of Prime
Minister Jean Chretien who is a Defendant in the Proceedings. Judge Dube
has refused to step down. The Applicants lawyers (pointing to a blatant
conflict of interest) have demanded that Judge Dube he replaced by a more
qualified individual. 

The proceedings are to continue. The Applicants lawyers have demanded the
federal government to produce documents and answer questions they have
refused to answer on the grounds of "Cabinet Privilege".

The Struggle against Neoliberalism  

This initiative is of crucial importance because it indicates an avenue of
struggle against neoliberalism; the legal challenge constitutes a powerful
instrument; it is not based on empty "dialogue" with the government: it
questions at the outset the legitimacy of politicians and bureaucrats to
undertake (behind closed doors) negotiations (on behalf of national
societies) which impoverish millions of people and derogate fundamental
human, cultural and economic rights. 

The legal challenge complements other anti-MAI initiatives. It also serves
to reinforce the ability of the anti-MAI movement to pressure national
governments and the relevant inter-governmental organisations.

"Internationalising" the Legal Challenge

The legal challenge in Canada is an important landmark: it identifies a
framework for the launching of similar legal challenges in other countries
not only against the MAI but also in relation to other international
treaties which were negotiated and/or signed without Legislative assent
and/or in contradiction with entrenched constitutional rights.

The "internationalisation" of this type of legal challenge against "the
MAI and its clones" (ie. legal actions launched simultaneously in several
countries) is part of the Worldwide movement against neoliberalism. 
Important lessons can be drawn from the Canadian court challenge against
the MAI, particularly in countries which have a similar legal framework to
that of Canada.

"MAI Clones": Challenging the Amendment of the IMF Articles 

We will recall that the IMF's resolve to deregulate capital movements was
taken behind closed doors (conveniently removed from the public eye and
with very little press coverage) barely two weeks before citizens' groups
from around the World gathered in late April 1998 in Paris in opposition
to the MAI. 

The Amendment of the IMF Articles seeks to derogate the powers of national
societies not only to regulate foreign investment but to control the
deadly movement of speculative capital. In other words, the deregulation
of capital movements is to be achieved through a more "expedient" avenue,
--ie.  without the legal hassle of a global investment treaty entrenched
in international law.

In this context, it is important to envisage legal challenges which
question the authority of the IMF (through its Interim Committee) to
casually proceed (in behind the scenes negotiations) with the Amendment of
its articles through a bureaucratic process. Fundamental rights of member
countries are affected but the only people who are consulted are bankers,
Washington officials and corporate executives. 

Challenging the Legitimacy of Financial Rules and Mechanisms 

Similarly, in the context of the global financial crisis, (eg. the brutal
onslaught of currency speculation in Brazil), it is also important to
challenge the legality of international rules, financial mechanisms and
other regulations governing the movement of capital, including speculative
capital. The latter are largely responsible for the collapse of national
currencies in all major regions of the World with devastating economic and
social consequences.

In this regard, many of the administrative rules governing stock markets,
currency markets and offshore banking have never been subjected to
legislative assent. In other words, many of the rules which govern
international financial transactions (including the lucrative flow of
dirty money) are also in blatant contradiction with fundamental economic
and social rights and should therefore be questioned in the courts. 

Information concerning the DCLC Legal Challenge including Legal Documents
can be found at: 

Email: •••@••.•••

    Michel Chossudovsky
    Department of Economics,
    University of Ottawa, 
    Ottawa, K1N6N5

    Voice box: 1-613-562-5800, ext. 1415
    Fax: 1-514-425-6224
    E-Mail: •••@••.•••

Recent articles by Chossudovsky on the global economic crisis at: