Back to Basics: Progressive Trade Deals

February 2018

When the UK leaves the EU it will be in charge of its own trade policy for the first time in more than 40 years, so trade is set to be a hot topic for years to come. We teamed up with CLASS, Global Justice Now, the University of Warwick and the Trade Justice Movement to create this expert guide which goes back to basics on trade. It explains the dangers of modern trade deals and what we should be looking for in a progressive trade agenda.

PDF icon Back to Basics: Progressive Trade Deals, 2018

Wayuu Women’s Force

La Guajira, Colombia

Wayuu Women’s Force (Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuu) is a women-led organisation that raises awareness about the violations of human and ethnic rights in La Guajira. They work to denounce the territorial impacts of mega mining projects, including forced displacement and the violation of rights of indigenous women.

“Being a Wayuu woman means guarding our territory, taking care of it, protecting the water and the Woumankain - Mother Earth, the greatest woman of all, who gave birth to everything. The Wayuu woman plays a fundamental role in culture, as the transmitter of culture and a vital part of Wayuu society. We do this because we want justice for those who will come after us, we are not paid to defend the territory, it is done through conviction." – Angelica Ortiz, General Secretary of Fuerza de Mujeres Wayúu

For four decades, Carbones El Cerrejón, the largest open cast mine in Colombia, has been present in La Guajira, in the north of the country. The exploitation and exportation of this coal, and the company's interest in increasing these figures, have resulted in the violation of the fundamental rights of Afro-Colombian, Wayuu indigenous and peasant communities that live in La Guajira, the department with the second highest levels of poverty, and one which has historically faced the consequences of the social and armed conflict of Colombia.

War on Want works with Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuu to ensure the fundamental rights of indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities in La Guajira are respected – especially with regards to access to water, Free Prior Informed Consent, compensation for forced evictions, territorial rights and environmental pollution. We do this by platforming the demands and messages of impacted communities to a UK and European audience.

Association for Social Research and Action (Nomadesc)

Cali, Colombia

In Colombia, more than five million people have been forced from their homes by violence and extreme poverty, made refugees in their own country. Rural Colombians have lost huge swathes of land. This humanitarian crisis and the needs of displaced people are well known in Colombia, and around the world.

The Social Research and Action Association (Asociacion para la investigacion y la accion social – Nomadesc) works to fix this massive disadvantage. By bringing these vulnerable groups together, Nomadesc gives these communities a voice. By strengthening the ties between the groups and giving them the tools to defend their human rights, these communities are better able to protect themselves from violence and displacement.

War on Want works to support our partners Nomadesc and Palenque el Congal (PCN), which develop mechanisms for the defence of territorial and human rights in the Pacific Coast of Colombia. We support Nomadesc in their work investigating violations of human rights and working to strengthen social movements through popular education initiatives.

Landless Workers Movement (MST)

National social movement, Brazil

In Brazil, less than 3% of the population owns two-thirds of the land and more than half the farmland lies idle. Four million homeless, landless and jobless peasant farmers are denied a decent living. The Landless Workers' Movement (Movimento Sem Terra – MST) works throughout Brazil to ensure that landless people have greater access to land.

The conflict over land, with homeless peasants on one side, and landowners’ armed thugs and the police on the other, has plagued Brazil for decades. The conflict has left over one thousand landless peasants murdered, and landless and rural people face malnutrition, lack of access to clean water, sanitation and basic health or education services, and a lifetime spent in roadside shantytowns of black plastic tents.

MST is one of the strongest social movements in Brazil today, and campaigns against the industrial export agriculture model that excludes peasants and causes inequality and environmental degradation. MST is a 1.5 million-member movement that organises landless and impoverished farmers to realise their human rights.

Despite heavy repression, it has managed to settle 350,000 families nationwide on unused land since its inception. MST has also built its own schools under its slogan 'education for every child’. In response to the increasing corporate takeover of agriculture, the MST is now developing sustainable farming methods through agroecology.

War on Want works with the MST to help ensure that farmers can use agroecological techniques, produce and save their own seeds, and call for the Brazilian government to adopt agricultural policies that support such sustainable approaches.

Honduran Women’s Collective (CODEMUH)

San Pedro Sula, Honduras

Our partner, the Honduran Women’s Collective (Colectiva de Mujeres Hondureñas – CODEMUH) is a feminist, women-led grassroots organisation that has been fighting for women worker's rights and their empowerment for over 20 years. It is the only organisation challenging the lack of workplace health and safety protection in Honduras, and they have successfully contested numerous cases on behalf of women suffering occupational disease.

CODEMUH is run by women seeking change in society that allows them to fully realise their potential, free from exclusion and discrimination. It has adopted an innovative and grassroots approach, developing strong networks of women maquiladora workers. These women are equipped, through training, with the skills and self-esteem to become labour rights promoters reaching out to workers on factory floors and in their local communities.

CODEMUH also provides legal and medical advice to workers suffering occupational disease and empowers them to speak out and challenge the abuse of labour rights by factory owners and the complicity of the government.

"CODEMUH has had a working relationship with War on Want for many years, since 2003, and this solidarity is significant and productive. By raising awareness and voices in the UK and Europe, we have strengthened the position of working women in these factories and sweatshops; it has strengthened our organisational ability, it has helped us build an active movement of organised labour that is still growing, and it has helped us with all out major achievements in workers’ rights here." – Maria Luisa, CODEMUH

Social Corporation for Community Advisory and Training Services Casanare (COSPACC)

Casanare, Colombia

The Social Corporation for Community Advisory and Training Services (La Corporación Social para la Asesoría y Capacitación Comunitaria – COSPACC) is principally dedicated to providing attention and accompaniment to victims due to the high numbers of human rights abuses in the regions where it works, especially in the departments of Tolima, Boyacá, Casanare and the city of Bogota.

It does so while remaining focused on its principal objective, which is reconstructing social fabric and providing on-going training to promote and defend human rights and international humanitarian law.

Alongside COSPACC and UK-based firm Deighton Pierce Glyn, we run The Oil Justice Project. The Oil Justice Project works to ensure that the victims and survivors of corporate-sponsored violence and environmental damage can obtain justice for the whole community, and not just compensation for individuals. The Oil Justice Project helps to rebuild, unite and empower communities in Casanare.


Latest news

Parliament fails to win democratic oversight on trade

17 July 2018 - 4:00pm

Responding to votes on scrutiny of trade agreements in the Trade Bill, senior trade campaigner at War on Want Jean Blaylock, says: “Democratic oversight of trade is not rocket science. MEPs in the European Parliament and members of Congress get an automatic vote on trade deals. Why shouldn’t MPs?

Read more

Fox concessions fail to give MPs a ‘meaningful say’ over post-Brexit trade

17 July 2018 - 12:45pm

"Today’s concessions by Liam Fox fall well short of taking back control."

Read more

Join the conversation

Parliament has just failed to secure the right to vote on our but democratic oversight is not rocket sc… 17 hours 19 min ago
PRESS RELEASE: Our reaction to 's statement last night about transparency on . "Concessions by L… 19 hours 33 min ago
In the UK, has been normalised & extreme right groups are flourishing. Racist hate crime has soared s… 21 hours 15 min ago