Before and beyond Cancun

This article was written in the immediate aftermath of the WTO Ministerial Conference held in Cancun in July 2003. It aims at demonstrating that this is merely a rebound in the eventful history of North-South relations. The author thinks that reality will demand that negotiations be reprised, since the international community has gained a clearer awareness of the gravity of the existing problems, and of the necessity to solve them on new bases. To this effect, it has adopted a series of great texts that, without being endowed with compulsory force, constitute real conduct codes, being precise and detailed, and defining the goals to be reached and the means to be used. This article presents a synthesis of these texts (notably the Millenium Declaration, the Doha Program, the Monterrey Consensus, the Declaration and the Action Plan of Johannesburg, etc.). The analysis attempted here deals with both the frameworks and the mechanisms of international action for development. It aims at showing that these texts possess the ability of responding to the current necessities, under the reserve of an adjustment, and that, being “before” Cancun, they open up a perspective “beyond” Cancun, whose orientations and action techniques they define with clarity. – Summary AFRI-2004