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UNEP condemns violence at Seattle trade talks

Seattle/Nairobi, 1 December 1999 - The head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Klaus Toepfer, yesterday condemned the incidences of violence, carried out by a small minority, which have marred the largely peaceful environmental protests.

Toepfer, commenting on the protests that disrupted the opening session of the 3rd World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meeting in Seattle, said:

"Furthering the environmental cause can never be achieved by violence. Around the world, there is a long and valuable tradition of environmental protest groups stimulating political concern and action by peaceful means, but, only through constructive dialogue can we ensure that an integrated approach to trade and environment policy-making is taken here in Seattle. The need to ensure that both trade and environmental policies are mutually supportive is more pressing today than ever before."

This week in Seattle, Governments are expected to launch the next round of global trade talks, and also to decide on the scope and extent to which environmental considerations will be incorporated in these negotiations.

UNEP believes that more needs to be done at the national and international level to assist countries in preparing themselves to address the environmental challenges of trade liberalization. To this end, UNEP is assisting developing countries to improve their capacity to protect their environment.

This capacity-building work, is one part of a recently agreed framework of co-operation between UNEP and WTO. The framework, which builds on the ongoing work between the two organizations, emphasizes the importance of continued collaboration between the secretariats of UNEP and WTO and was announced at a joint press conference here in Seattle yesterday.

Note to journalists:
For more information or to arrange interviews contact:
Robert Bisset,
UNEP press officer in Seattle,
c/o Crown Plaza Hotel,
tel: 1-206-464-1980, fax: 1-206-340-1617, mobile: 206-909-3518,

In Nairobi, please contact:
Tore J. Brevik,
UNEP Spokesman and Director of Communications and Public Information,
P.O. Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya;
Tel.: (254-2) 623292; Fax: 623692;

UNEP News Release 1999/133

Wednesday 01 Dec 1999
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