The Socialist International is the worldwide organisation of social democratic, socialist and labour parties. It currently brings together 168 political parties and organisations from all continents. (List of members in full)
A history of growth and accomplishment
The Socialist International, whose origins go back to the early international organisations of the labour movement, has existed in its present form since 1951, when it was re-established at the Frankfurt Congress. Since then it has been increasingly active and grown considerably in membership, more than doubling the number of its members in recent years. Labour, social democratic and socialist parties are now a major political force in democracies around the world, with numerous member parties of the International leading governments or representing the main opposition force. Currently 60 member parties of the International are in government.
The supreme decision-making bodies of the International are the Congress, which meets every four years, and the Council, which includes all member parties and organisations and which meets twice a year.
George A. Papandreou, former Prime Minister of Greece, is President of the Socialist International, first elected in January 2006, and re-elected at the XXIV Congress. Luis Ayala (Chile) is the Secretary General, re-elected at the last Congress. The Vice-Presidents, who are also elected by the Congress, together with the President and the Secretary General, make up the Presidium of the International, the leadership of the organisation.
From 1976 to 1992 the late Willy Brandt, former Chancellor of Germany and winner of the 1971 Nobel Peace Prize, was President of the Socialist International. The late Pierre Mauroy, former Prime Minister of France, served as President from 1992 to 1999, and António Guterres, former Prime Minister of Portugal, from 1999 to 2005. Former Presidents and Secretaries General of the organisation
The secretariat of the Socialist International is located in London and coordinates the activities and initiatives of the International, convenes its meetings and conferences, issues statements and press releases and produces its publications.
Global and regional work of the Socialist International
The Socialist International works intensely throughout the year to strengthen and develop social democratic policies in the world, including through the activities of its thematic and regional Committees, Working Groups, and Commissions.
At the Council of Socialist International held in Portugal on 4-5 February 2013, the International established for this inter-Congress period, in addition to the statutory Ethics Committee and Committee for Finance and Administration, the organisation’s thematic and regional Committees, Working Groups and a new Commission on Equality.
With the purpose of deepening, broadening and promoting particular areas of global policy, the current thematic Committees of the Socialist International are the Committee on Democracy; the Committee on Local Government; the Committee on Poverty; and the Committee on Migrations. Each Committee sets a specific programme of activities and meets regularly.
The regional Committees define and inform the work of the Socialist International with regard to their respective regions, and generate input from their national and regional perspectives to the common global policies of the organisation. The regional Committees of the Socialist International are the Africa Committee; the Committee on the Arab World; the Committee for Asia and the Pacific; the Committee for the CIS, the Caucasus and the Black Sea; the Committee on the Kurdish People; the Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean; the Mediterranean Committee; the Middle East Committee; and the Committee for South Eastern Europe.
Working Groups of the Socialist International are designed to target specific areas of importance that warrant greater research and scrutiny. The current Working Groups of the Socialist International are the Working Group on Accountability and Transparency; the Working Group on Political Education; the Working Group on Social Media; the Working Group on Individual Membership; and the Working group on Syria.
Commission for a Sustainable World Society
The SI Commission for a Sustainable World Society was established by the Socialist International to articulate from the world of progressive politics a way forward to address global environmental concerns, climate change and the issues of governance required to deal with these common challenges. The Commission brought together leading personalities, including serving and former heads of state and government ministers from different continents, to set out recommendations to tackle these fundamental issues, with a particular focus on supporting and contributing to the United Nations Climate Change Conferences and the global effort to reduce global warming.
Commission on Global Financial Issues
The SI Commission on Global Financial Issues was established by the Socialist International to address from a social democratic perspective the ongoing global financial crisis. The Commission brought together political leaders, ministers and noted experts from all continents who worked to formulate a global progressive response to the crisis based on the principles of democratic due process and full transparency and which were consistent with the values of social justice and social solidarity.
Missions and delegations
The Socialist International frequently sends missions and delegations to various countries and regions to help promote peaceful resolutions of conflicts and to support the strengthening of democracy, including through the observation of elections. In recent years such missions and delegations have visited on many occasions the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Central and Eastern Europe.
Consultative status with the United Nations
As a non-governmental organisation, the Socialist International has consultative status (Category I) with the United Nations, and works internationally with a large number of other organisations.