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Fwd: World Bank Cancels Academic Meeting In Spain

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  • Jeffrey Juris
    The World Bank has cancelled their Annual Conference on Development Economics in Barcelona this June due to the incredible mobilization of anti-corporate
    Message 1 of 1 , May 20, 2001
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      The World Bank has cancelled their Annual Conference on Development Economics in Barcelona this June due to the incredible mobilization of anti-corporate globalization activists in Barcelona, Spain and throughout Europe! Folks are definitely treating this as a victory and are considering how to move forward with alternative actions, teach-ins, workshops and outreach efforts during the week of June 25-27 in light of the new situation. A new plan of action will be worked out shortly. Stay tuned, this turn of events has significant ramifications for our growing movement....

      from the worldbanksite

      World Bank Cancels Academic Meeting In Spain
      Plans being made for on-line discussion instead

      espaƱolPARIS, May 19, 2001.
      The World Bank announced today the cancellation of its 2001 Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics (ABCDE) in Europe, originally slated to be held in Barcelona on June 25-27.

      Explaining the decision, World Bank spokeswoman Caroline Anstey said, "A conference on poverty reduction should take place in a peaceful atmosphere free from heckling, violence and intimidation. Despite our efforts to reach out to some of the groups planning demonstrations, and to include them in the conference, the intention of many of the groups who plan to converge on Barcelona is not to join the debate or to contribute constructively to the discussion, but to disrupt it. We do not want to expose academics from around the world and our hosts in Spain to such a situation." Particularly, she said, "It is time to take a stand against this kind of threat to free discussion."

      Ms. Anstey said that the Bank had full confidence in the ability and commitment of the Spanish authorities to ensure the logistics of the conference and the safety of the participants. However, the disruption for the people of Barcelona and the risks and hazards involved, were too high a price for this exchange, which could instead be conducted by other means, she said.

      " Years ago people used to burn books to try and clamp down on academic freedom - now they try to prevent academics from reaching debating halls. This is hardly progress. Fortunately the internet means that academic debates can now take place on line." Papers prepared for the conference will be posted on the conference web site and plans are being made for an on-line discussion, she said.

      Nicholas Stern, World Bank Chief Economist and Senior Vice President for Development Economics, said that the Bank had tried to include many of the groups working against the conference in its discussions. "The subjects reflect our concern that globalization should be managed so that poor people can participate and benefit. The speakers and participants all have extensive experience and understanding to share on these topics. It is a pity that our more outspoken critics chose not to engage in a dialogue" he said.

      The World Bank conveyed its gratitude to the Spanish Ministry of Economy for supporting the event, and to the Generalitat of Catalunya and the City of Barcelona for welcoming it.

      Although the ABCDE Europe is a small conference of a few hundred academics, it has also drawn representatives from civil society and government. The previous two ABCDE Europe conferences were hosted by the French Government in Paris. An ABCDE conference is also held annually in Washington. Last month's Washington conference, which focused on health and poverty, proceeded without incident.

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