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Monday, 25 June, 2001, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
World Bank conference goes online
Protesters have targeted the World Bank before
Protesters have targeted the World Bank before
The World Bank hosted its annual conference on development economics on the internet on Monday.

The two-day online conference began with a speech by World Bank president James Wolfensohn on Monday and will conclude on Tuesday.

Already, about 1,800 from 90 countrieshave registered online at the conference, compared with the estimated 200 people expected to travel to Barcelona to the meeting.

The bank decided to hold the conference online, after fears of violent protest forced it to cancel its meeting in Barcelona.

Some protesters have threatened to hack into the online video conference, which will be taking e-mail questions from around the world.

At the close of Monday afternoon's session, there were dozens of questions posted on the website.

At the weekend, demonstrators clashed with police in Barcelona's central square after around 20,000 anti-globaliastion protesters turned up despite the cancellation.

Protester threat

The riots seemed to vindicate the Bank's decision.

"It seemed there was going to be a deliberate attempt to stop the discussion...they were clearly going to intimidate the ordinary academics and we didn't think it right to try to have a serious analytical discussion on the issues...in that kind of environment," the World Bank's chief economist Nick Stern told BBC News Online.

The World Bank's hope is that the online approach will allow broader participation from people around the world.

However, the World Bank has reserved the right to censor questions "they consider to include content that is inappropriate for a general audience and/or incongruous with the stated goals of this event".

Anti-globalisation

The meeting, which was scheduled to take place in Barcelona, is the latest casualty of the wave of anti-globalisation protests which have swept Europe and the US in recent years.

Last September, the World Bank's annual meeting in Prague was the focus of mass protests which forced the organisers to end the gathering one day early.

The G8 summit of world leaders in Genoa next month is also facing the prospect of disruption as thousands of anarchists have vowed to demonstrate in the Italian port city.

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24 Jun 01 | Europe
Police break up Barcelona rally
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