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Charities demand new rules for World Economic Forum meeting

Two leading Swiss charities have called for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos to be thrown open to the public. The Berne Declaration and Pro Natura made the call at a joint news conference in the capital.

This content was published on January 11, 2000 - 12:24

Two leading Swiss charities have called for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos to be thrown open to the public. The Berne Declaration and Pro Natura made the call at a joint news conference in the capital.

The two charities launched a campaign called "In the Public Eye" which is pressing for new rules for the annual meeting of world political and business leaders. The charities said that the protests which disrupted last November's World Trade Organisation summit in Seattle showed that people would no longer accept the conference in its current format.

Last month, the Berne Declaration applied to the authorities in Davos for permission to hold an anti-globalisation demonstration during the meeting of the World Economic Forum. Davos officials have yet to give their response.

During last year's conference, Davos imposed a blanket ban on protests, and intervened to prevent around 200 demonstrators from marching on the congress centre. But a local court ruled in September that Davos had acted against freedom of expression and association.

On Monday, the authorities in Canton Graubünden asked for the army's help in protecting President Clinton and other leaders who will be descending on Davos at the end of this month. The head of the cantonal government, Peter Aliesch, said tighter security was essential following the violent protests in Seattle.

The Swiss cabinet has reacted cautiously. After initially turning down the request, three ministries -justice and police, defence and foreign affairs - are now re-examining it. The defence ministry spokesman, Oswald Sigg, said they were in contact with the cantonal police department, which is in charge of security during the conference.

If the federal authorities agree, it would be the first time Swiss troops will provide security at the meeting in Davos. And even if they are not sent to the town, there'll be an unprecedentedly high level of security. Several other cantons have already promised Graubünden police reinforcements.


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