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WTO approves Pirate Party observers at Bali conference

WTO approves Pirate Party observers at Bali conference
Pirate Parties International delegates have received observer status for the World Trade Organization’s ninth conference in Bali.

Headquartered in Brussels, NGO Pirate Parties International represents members from 43 different countries worldwide. The umbrella organization gathers the national pirate parties which lobby for civil rights, freedom of information, direct democracy and reform of copyright and patent law.

The World Trade Organization, which handles international trade issues, has granted the NGO observer status, meaning it can send a delegation of up to four people to the conference in Bali to lobby for the goals of the international pirate parties movement.

Held every two years, the WTO Ministerial Conference is the supreme body of the organization, where decisions are made on commercial treaties.

“We are excited about the opportunity to reach out to the participants of the WTO ministerial conference and provide them with insights from those parts of the civil society that are rarely represented at international summits,” PPI co-chairman Gregory Engels said in a statement on the NGO’s website.  

PPI has two primary issues which it will be advocating for at the Dec. 3-6 conference: the signing of an international treaty against surveillance, and the inclusions of provisions for free licenses in the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) treaty, according to a statement published on its website.

The US has repeatedly stood in the way of PPI of observer status with the WTO, rejecting its application for admittance as a permanent member in September. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has also rejected its observer status, after complaints in September from Swiss, French and US delegations to the organization were among those expressing concerns that they don't support WIPO's mission.

Engels says he hopes that this will set the group on the path to acceptance at other international organizations, such as WIPO.

“One of WIPO’s points of critique was that they were not aware of any existing cooperation between UN bodies and international political organizations. By being admitted to the WTO meeting we have created such a precedent. This is definitely a door opener for us,” Engels told TorrentFreak. He added that they had already sent in a new application.

After the launch of the first Pirate Party in Sweden in 2006, the movement spread worldwide and now encompasses countries such as Iceland, Morocco, the UK and China. In this year’s German elections, nearly 1 million people voted for the Pirate Party, while in Iceland, the organization has three MPs in Parliament. The Swedish Pirate Party also has two members of the European parliament.