The XX Congress of the Socialist International, held at the United Nations headquarters, is dedicated to addressing today's global challenges through greater international cooperation. Four years since our last Congress in Berlin, where we undertook the tasks of sustaining the democratic revolution and ensuring that its benefits are extended to all, it is clear that now more than ever the challenges of securing peace, democracy and development require an international effort.
The world is changing rapidly and is increasingly interdependent. We therefore must find new ways to live - both within our own countries and at the global level - that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable. Only by reinforcing a sense of common responsibility and solidarity can humanity survive and realise its potential.
Clearly, the role of the United Nations must be central if the goal of greater international cooperation is to be achieved. Since Berlin, the Socialist International therefore has deepened its support for and its relations with the United Nations. The convergence of our International and the United Nations, based on the shared goals of peace, democracy and sustainable development, and on cooperative activities and efforts, makes it more than fitting that our Congress be held in New York.
The Socialist International, with member parties in nearly every country on every continent, and with regional and thematic committees active throughout the world, promotes better understanding and greater cooperation among nations that face common global problems. The vision of the Socialist International and our adherence to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guide and inform our work, as is evident in the sections of the Congress Resolution that follow.
Moreover, our ideals of liberty, justice and solidarity, which placed the Socialist International at the forefront in the triumph of the democratic idea, are more vital than ever because they link together all sectors of increasingly complex societies. Social democratic solidarity is based on a shared commitment to the fundamental principles reasserted and refined at the Stockholm Congress in 1989. It derives strength from diversity, both within and among nations.
Democracy as we define it - with political rights, social justice and equal economic opportunity - is the only form of democracy that will endure. While it is true that market mechanisms are required for economic growth and development, it is also true that free markets do not ensure justice. Democratic socialism therefore recognises the state as a necessary servant of the people in guaranteeing a just and equitable society and a critical agent in democratising economic change in an era of globalisation. The preservation of rights - and the reconciling of individual rights with the collective rights of workers, women, young people, ethnic groups and indigenous communities - depends on responsibility shared by governments and citizens.
The Socialist International remains a leading voice in asserting the link between disarmament and development. More constructive and equitable use of the world's resources depends on achieving international peace. The United Nations therefore must be given full support in its efforts to resolve regional and civil conflicts, to promote reductions in nuclear and conventional weaponry, including the proposed ban on the use, production and stockpiling of landmines, and to negotiate a treaty banning nuclear weapons testing for all time.
We democratic socialists are confident in our approach to the urgent tasks before us. Our long-held commitments to freedom and fundamental rights, and to justice, peace and human well-being, have been our strength in overcoming obstacles in the past. Today, the promise of lasting democracy and the aspirations of all peoples for a better life depend on unwavering solidarity and greater international cooperation among nations to establish an effective system of global responsibility and security. The Socialist International, with its long tradition of international cooperation and solidarity, and with renewed determination and initiative, commits itself to remaining at the forefront in achieving a more secure and democratic world.
I. Strengthening the democratic process
Given the process of democratisation currently under way on the African continent, and in view of the urgent need to respond to the many needs of Africa, particularly the challenge of its own development, the SI not only confirms its support for the respect of individual rights, but also - and more specifically - for the advancement of economic and social rights at the continental level, in other words for the right to development - the right to education, health, employment and social welfare.
The SI is pleased to observe the democratic progress which is today significantly changing the political and institutional landscape of Africa, under the impetus of progressive forces: political parties, trade unions, and civil organisations.
The phenomenon of democratisation is historically very significant and it is important to recognise its true value. It is vital to support the forces involved in the African democratic process. If not, the process runs the risk of being weakened, all the more so since it is encountering some disturbing violations and challenges in certain countries.
The SI undertakes to do everything in its power to strengthen democratic culture, particularly by intensifying its role in observing electoral processes and by supporting the socialist and social-democratic movements in the establishment of new initiatives, training and restructuring programmes.
Among these, the women's movement must play a central role, alongside the labour and youth movements.
The SI asks that the results of transparent and official elections be democratically accepted by the existing political powers.
In this way, strengthening the democratic culture is seen as the best way to guarantee the development of democracy in Africa, where there remain some disturbing pockets of resistance to the democratisation process. This opposition manifests itself in the form of unfair and non-transparent elections, military coups, and an increase in extremist movements and ethnic persecution, which all threaten and challenge constitutional and democratically established laws.
The SI states that these abuses - retrograde steps imposed by force - mean that populations must struggle just to survive day to day, and therefore the SI must devote particular attention to supporting them.
The SI calls resolutely for the establishment of democracy in such countries as Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and Zaïre.
It is becoming more urgent than ever not only to reinforce the democratic progress made at institutional level, but to promote real social and economic democracy. Without this, it is impossible to maintain peace and security.
II. Peace and security
After stressing, once again, that peace and security are vital to the success of development initiatives, the SI expresses its grave concern with regard to the continued existence in Africa of a number of areas of tension, for example, in Rwanda, Burundi, Liberia and Somalia.
In this connection, the SI welcomes initiatives on the part of African countries to defuse tension in these areas and to promote preventive diplomacy, via the structures for the prevention, management and control of conflict created by the OAU (Organisation of African Unity) in accordance with international law and UN resolutions.
The SI urges the entire international community to give its full support to these initiatives designed to maintain peace in Africa, and thereby preserve international security.
Similarly, the SI urges the African countries to continue to promote a policy of peace, by utilising their culture and allowing women to fulfil their role in this effort.
In this respect, the SI urges it members, and the African political parties in particular, to assume the central role that is rightfully theirs.
III. Ensuring development
Africa is becoming increasingly integrated into what is known as the logic of globalisation, marked by an unprecedented increase in ultra-liberalism and the increasingly important role played by international financial institutions, particularly since the collapse of the communist bloc.
The introduction of these influences, within the context of the drastic changes that have taken place in the world economy, is at present deeply affecting the economic and social structures of the African countries.
These new structures, imposed by the requirements of the liberalisation process and the Bretton Woods institutions, have resulted in greater and more widespread poverty among the African populations. Structural adjustment policies have been imposed without the corrective social measures that the social democratic movement was fortunately able to introduce in most of the industrialised countries, where the demands of the market economy were tempered by the introduction of social laws which aided the development and stabilisation of political democracy.
If Africa is to experience a smooth and non-violent transition towards the establishment of a new democratic order, adapted to its own particular circumstances, it is essential to construct an international system based on more equitable economic and commercial relations.
Such a system must be founded on a respect for greater social justice and ensure that industrialised nations and developing countries have equal access to the world market. It must therefore not be based solely on competitive criteria.
In this way, the new system will enable the African economies to be integrated into the world market.
Given the specific responsibility of the European Union towards Africa, the SI asks Europe not to become a closed bloc focusing exclusively upon its own prosperity, but to remain open, particularly in its relations with its African partners and associates.
To this end, the SI asks that the following basic principles be incorporated into the European Union treaty:
1. The principle of equal partnership and cooperation (to be incorporated into Section XVII of the EU treaty);
2. Greater cohesion in EU policies and interventions, especially in the field of commerce, agriculture, industry and fishing;
3. A positive commitment to an equitable economic and commercial cooperation which respects the rights of the individual and the right to development.
The SI makes the same appeal to other industrialised nations and welcomes the initiatives already introduced, in particular the special UN initiative for Africa.
The SI expresses the wish that these initiatives make a practical contribution to the peaceful and lasting development of the African countries.
To this end, the SI urges the African countries to pursue and increase their efforts through greater solidarity and through the promotion of economic integration at the continental, regional and sub-regional levels.
The SI notes with concern the lack of progress in resolving the conflict in Western Sahara, which is an obstacle to bringing peace and improving the political, social and economic situation in the Maghreb. The partial withdrawal of MINURSO is an unfortunate development and again brings closer the possibility of renewed hostilities. We must demand that the parties involved comply fully with the United Nations Resolutions and make a new effort to establish stable and permanent mechanisms for negotiation to resolve the conflict, with renewed support from the international community.
ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
The Asia-Pacific region is the most dynamic area in the world. In the past it was called a 'dormant Asia', but today it is a 'thriving Asia'. Developing countries in Asia are growing twice as fast as the world average. Also in the past it was an 'Asia asunder' in both security and economic terms, but it is now an 'Asia integrated'. On the economic front, the APEC is thrusting forward the process of economic reform and integration, while on the security front the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) is successfully developing regional security dialogue.
But Asia is also a region of contradictions. Rapid economic growth, certainly benefitting many countries in the region, is also causing such problems as environmental destruction, energy crises and food shortages. Rapid population growth, which will continue into the 21st century, together with environmental destruction, energy and food shortages may seriously threaten the security of the region. It is encouraging to see democracy thriving, especially in newly industrialised economies, but authoritarian rule is still dominant in many parts of the Asia-Pacific region.
Peace is more than the absence of war. Just as war claims human lives, poverty, starvation, environmental destruction and violation of human rights threaten people's lives, deprive them of the means to live, undermine human dignity and in the worst cases cause death. Therefore military deterrence and diplomacy are not the only means to guarantee peace. The promotion of social development, the elimination of poverty, the protection of human rights and the preservation of the global environment should be considered priorities in the effort to secure peace.
Against these backdrops, social democrats in the Asia-Pacific region must apply multilateral rather than unilateral and a comprehensive rather than a single-issue approach to the problems of the region.
Security and disarmament
The priority with regard to regional security and disarmament is to stop nuclear testing. The French conservative government carried out six rounds of nuclear tests before announcing an end to further testing in January 1996. As for China, it recently conducted a nuclear test and made clear that another test was expected before September. From the viewpoint of both nuclear disarmament and environmental protection, we firmly reject the use of our land and ocean as nuclear test sites. Therefore we strongly urge that Beijing refrain from more nuclear testing. And we also urge redoubled efforts towards achieving a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). As we stand on the threshold of the 21st century, the decisive movement towards time-bound total elimination of nuclear weapons becomes more important for international peace and security than ever before.
The restriction of conventional weapons is also an important issue. In particular, in connection with the revision of the Protocol on the use of mines, efforts should be made for the prohibition of the production, storage, use and transfer of mines in the future. At the same time we call upon all governments in the region to take voluntary measures to cease the use of all mines until an international agreement is reached to ban them.
Another important issue in the region is curbing the arms race. Many developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region, whilst growing economically, are also growing militarily. We do not consider the present level of arms build-up to pose an immediate threat to the stability of the region, but unless properly controlled it will develop into armed conflicts. To deal with this issue, we recommend all countries in the region to accede to the UN weaponry registration system, which needs to be upgraded.
As in Europe, new regional security frameworks are taking shape in Asia and the Pacific. Among these the ARF is a core regime which is expected to play a pivotal role in formulating confidence-building measures.
The APEC has been praised for its 'open regionalism' and its efforts for gradual liberalisation. But the policy of trade liberalisation alone is unable to solve issues like population growth, food shortages, environmental degradation and energy crises.
The choice should not be between absolute poverty and unbridled economic growth. What is needed is a socially and environmentally sustainable community in which growing wealth can be properly distributed and people can live in harmony with nature.
Therefore we call upon all countries in this region to share the common perception of the fundamental security issues, namely environmental destruction, energy crises, population growth and food shortages, and to launch an intra-regional initiative that aims to encourage joint efforts for the common goal of sustainable development.
Democracy and human rights
Social democrats and socialists in the Asia-Pacific region solemnly declare that human rights are universal in value. We respect cultural diversity but not at the sacrifice of human rights. Already in Europe, the Americas and Africa, regional mechanisms to protect human rights have been set up. However in the world's largest continent there is not yet the possibility of creating a similar human rights institution. Every effort should be made to establish such a human rights mechanism in the Asia-Pacific region.
In Burma, as the recent arrest of NLD parliamentarians shows, the gross violation of human rights under the military regime is still continuing. We strongly demand that all those arrested be immediately freed and the result of the last general election respected.
Furthermore, the rapes routinely perpetrated against Burmese women by SLORC soldiers as well as SLORC's cynical use of rape as a tool in their campaign of subjugation and oppression of the civilian population constitute a blatant violation of human rights and must cease.
The United Nations, governments and humanitarian agencies must do their utmost to prevent the trafficking in Burmese women to Thailand.
The Socialist International calls on the Secretary-General of the United Nations to urgently implement the December 1995 General Assembly resolution to find a political solution in Burma. The SI also calls on the governments of Japan, the ASEAN and other nations to support Aung San Suu Kyi's efforts to promote national reconciliation in Burma.
The international financial institutions and governments, including UN agencies, should refrain from renewing ODA assistance, development and assistance programmes and loans until SLORC begins a political dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi.
The Socialist International reiterates its intention, first declared at the Manila meeting of the SI Asia-Pacific Committee in February 1995, to continue efforts to carry out the planned SI mission to Burma which has, to this date, been denied entry by the Burmese authorities.
Attention should also be given to the situation in East Timor. Considering the continuation of oppressive rule by the Indonesian army and the massacre in Dili, we need to increase efforts to support the Timorese fight for self-determination.
The human rights situation in both Bhutan and Tibet remains serious and we reaffirm our solidarity with the people from these areas struggling for democracy.
As regards China, authoritarian rule remains in place, but its open and reformist policies seem to continue. Whilst monitoring its attitude toward human rights, we must help Beijing to further promote the present course of open and reforming policies.
The Korean Peninsula remains unstable. Due to the flood last year and the ensuing food shortage, North Korea is said to be barely surviving. To alleviate the plight, Pyongyang is now accepting aid from abroad. Whilst extending such humanitarian aid, we need to encourage them to accept the idea of a four-party meeting and to gradually integrate them into the international community.
With regard to Fiji, the gross violation of human and trade union rights is also a cause for much concern to the Socialist International. Fiji's racially weighted Constitution has marginalised the Indo-Fijian population and confined them to third-class citizenship in the country of their birth. The Indo-Fijian community, who are the main victims of the Constitution, are denied equal access to education, the civil service and to welfare provision - despite paying 80 percent of national taxes.
The SI will be closely following the recent political developments in Fiji vis-à-vis the findings of the Constitutional Review Commission report and calls on the government of the day to accept and implement its findings, which would put Fiji back on the path to democratic elections and towards a just and fair society.
Women's rights in the Asia-Pacific region
Asia, specifically Beijing, played host to the UN Fourth World Conference on Women which was the biggest ever UN meeting. Yet women in much of the Asia-Pacific region are generally more marginalised in all aspects of life than their sisters in the developed world.
Issues of security, sustainability, democracy and human rights impact differently on men and women. In the light of this there is an urgent need for the social democrats of the region to look closely into the situation of women and put more effort into strengthening their participation in discussion and action on these issues.
The series of events starting in the autumn of 1989 that completely changed the world suggested that the age of confrontation between the major political blocs had finally come to an end. However, it simultaneously created new challenges.
The Berlin wall has fallen, the Soviet bloc has collapsed, and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have been finding their - sometimes contradictory - way towards democracy. Europe has emerged from an age of ignominy and has finally been able to devote itself to the task of its total and full construction. But serious problems remain.
For the first time in over forty years, Europe has again experienced war, without there being any indication of its ability to resolve the conflict. The phenomenon of extreme nationalism has reappeared, threatening the political stability of the continent, and the serious structural problems experienced by our societies are reflected in unacceptable levels of unemployment.
The European states cannot deal with these new problems in isolation. European socialists who work together within the framework of the Party of European Socialists (PES) believe that their option offers solutions to these new situations at the European level. Furthermore, the SI considers that the European Union not only represents an opportunity but also has a responsibility to ensure peace, welfare and justice within society. And since the PES is the most widely represented political group throughout the European Union, we should be able to claim, without deluding ourselves, that we represent the only political power capable of offering a combined solution to economic, social and environmental problems.
The objectives of socialist action within the European framework are as follows:
- Work and prosperity: to create a fully employed, efficient and safe society, in which unemployment and poverty have been eradicated;
- To create a balanced programme of economic, social and ecologically sound development that protects the environment and promotes a better quality of life;
- To promote the development, reform and expansion of the European Union. In the light of the Inter-Governmental Conference currently under way, the SI and the PES maintain that the institutional reform of the European Union should be based on three objectives: to establish an effective decision-making process, which significantly extends the field of application of the qualified majority vote; to invest European policy with greater transparency and openness, and ensure that decisions are adopted at the appropriate level; and to introduce greater democracy into EU procedures, by increasing the powers of the European Parliament and strengthening the participation of national parliaments;
- To develop a common foreign and security policy, with a view to promoting international peace and development;
- To create an open society, prepared to demonstrate its solidarity vis-à-vis the rest of the world;
- To ensure equal opportunities for men and women;
- To promote inter-personal, inter-generational and international solidarity.
Employment has been and always will be the guiding principle of European socialist action. Policies for economic growth that generate job opportunities and are environmentally sustainable constitute the principle economic and social challenge faced by policy makers. Large-scale unemployment is adversely determining the future of our societies.
In December 1993, the PES launched the European Initiative for Employment, an ambitious programme of action containing the key elements of an economic policy designed to generate employment. Looking towards the next (i.e. the third) PES Conference, to be held next spring in Malmö, Jacques Delors is directing work on a new development programme that builds on the work of the European Initiative for Employment.
We believe that there are as yet unexplored possibilities for the stimulation of an active and sustained economic policy at the European level. For example, it is possible to release vast growth potential by transcending the boundaries of national economies and making use of the very real possibilities of the common European economy, while a concerted initiative of macro-economic policies at the European level can guarantee stable and sustained growth and a steady increase in job creation.
Investment and employment in the private sector are a priority objective which must be developed through public investment in research and development, infrastructure, housing and management of the environment with a view to ensuring satisfactory levels of long-term competitiveness. Investment in education and training must also be a priority objective.
European socialists are working to establish a new social contract in Europe between unions and management, with the support of the public authorities, that will open the way for a new and positive balance between ensuring job security and the need for change. The re-organisation of the existing employment structure can and should be achieved through negotiations that safeguard competitiveness and involve a reduction in working hours with a view to improving the distribution of existing employment.
Another way of maximising the number of job opportunities would be to make use of the vast potential in the field of new activities linked to the service sector, as well as the stimulus provided by the social economy and local initiatives sector.
The political priority of employment does not prevent European socialists from asserting their commitment to Economic and Monetary Union as an essential concomitant to the home market and a means of ensuring that those countries which join the single currency meet the required timetable and common criteria. The third phase of the EMU should begin with the participation of the largest possible number of member states. The implementation of monetary union should be accompanied by an improved co-ordination of economic, budgetary, fiscal, employment and social policies, with a view to ensuring that the EMU is socially compatible and that the common criteria can be maintained on the basis of economic re-organisation. Whatever the case, it is essential to promote sound economic and social relations between the states who join the EMU and those who do not.
European socialists are actively working to ensure that the European Union has real capacity to voice its opinions at the international level, through a Common Foreign and Security Policy. A European Union equipped with the necessary and appropriate foreign policy and security instruments would have been more effective and more able to provide an initial energetic response to the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.
The SI and the PES maintain that Europe should promote solidarity by developing a policy of active cooperation within its immediate sphere of activity. With regard to the less developed countries, it should help to reduce the inequalities between the northern and southern hemispheres and, to this end, should maintain the present level of aid to the countries of the Lomé Convention.
Democratic socialists in the EU work with their counterparts in non-EU countries to promote the protection of human rights and respect for democracy and the legitimately established state, both within the EU and in other countries. Unlike the conservative parties, we believe that social and economic rights form an integral part of human rights.
European socialists are continually working to ensure that the European Union promotes the development of Central and Eastern European countries and facilitates their entry into Europe. These new democracies are currently undergoing a process of reform and need help with regard to their reconstruction and access to EU markets, and clear indications concerning their full integration into Europe. We also support the creation of a space for association and cooperation, in all fields, with the countries of the Mediterranean basin, and pledge our support for all efforts designed to ensure the success of the peace initiative in the Middle East.
With regard to the environment, the PES has extended existing action programmes by establishing a new development programme that links environmental management and job creation. The European Union must lead the world in the field of environmental protection, and ensure the implementation of legally binding and clearly prioritised environmental agreements - regarding climate, the protection of forests, desertification, biodiversity and waste - in line with the World Summit in Rio.
We believe that the European Union should increase and improve environmental aid to the developing world. Adequate environmental management can only be achieved if the necessary economic and social bases have been established. To this end, the European Union must support the opening up of world markets to the less developed countries (LDCs) and the transfer of the appropriate technology and financial resources so that these countries are not forced to choose between short-term economic benefits and long-term environmental issues.
European socialist action is directed towards the creation of a programme of cooperation and environmental management which opens up new areas of job creation, reduces the depletion of natural resources and develops sustainable systems of production and consumption.
A strong, committed Europe which promotes democracy must combat racism and xenophobia. The racist violence and attacks that occur in our societies are an extreme manifestation of deep-rooted social problems. These phenomena are partly produced by unemployment among young people, recurrent recessions and a general feeling of hopelessness, which is regrettably exploited by the anti-democratic politicians of the extreme right.
The only way forward is to construct a prosperous Europe, based on mutual commitment, where the rights of the individual are respected and where the citizens of non-EU countries have the opportunity to become socially integrated through training and employment opportunities, and to participate in the political life of Europe.
Last, and by no means least, European socialists are striving to achieve an equal society. There should be a significant increase in the number of women at all levels of participation and decision-making. In the political field, the PES is committed to promoting the representation of women in all EU institutions and, within its own sphere, to attaining a balanced representation of men and women in all PES bodies and areas of activity. In the economic and social field, this commitment is focused on overcoming discrimination, correcting the de facto inequality between men's and women's pay and finding a solution to the problem of greater unemployment among women, who are also more susceptible to the consequences of social and territorial inequality.
CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE
The fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of the communist system have signalled the end of an epoch in the history of Europe and of the world. The attempts to affirm justice without liberty and democracy have been revealed as a tragic illusion.
Democracy and justice are inseparable values and it is precisely the events of these past years which have shown us the relevance and validity of the values and ideas of democratic socialism.
Willy Brandt saw in the affirmation of social democracy in Eastern Europe the crowning of the Östpolitik to which he dedicated his political career and his life itself. The events of these years have proved the courage and clear-sightedness of Willy Brandt.
We reaffirm today that what Europe will become in the next few years will depend in large part on what happens in that enormous region which extends from the Polish plains to Siberia, from the Balkans to the Caucasus.
1. The war in the former Yugoslavia has constantly been at the centre of our attention, and our thoughts are first and foremost with the women, children and men in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sarajevo, Srebenica, Bihac, Goradze, Brcko, Tuzla, and in all the villages and cities hit by the horror of the bombardments and ethnic cleansing.
We have always been convinced that no solution was possible as long as weapons, violence and arbitrary power had the upper hand. Peace was and is built only through negotiation. This is why all of our efforts were directed towards suspending the war, starting a dialogue between the sides and launching a negotiated settlement.
This is also why we greeted with satisfaction the signing of the Dayton Accords which enabled the sides to put a halt to the hostilities and an end to the suffering of the civilian population, and to begin a peace process which has as its objective the peaceful coexistence on the same territory of distinct ethnic communities. The successful elections in Mostar and the beginning of activities of the city's municipal council were an important step in view of the forthcoming elections throughout Bosnia.
Clearly, the road to peace is still a long one, and there will no doubt be difficulties. In the first place further steps are needed to enable refugees to return to their homes, and allow the free circulation of every individual within the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the full application of the Dayton Accords under whose mandate the military forces of the Implementation Force (IFOR) are acting.
The SI asks the international community to reconfirm the international IFOR peace mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina in order to contribute to the stabilisation of the peace process and to support the integration of different ethnic communities.
One of the principal conditions required to carry out these objectives is the need to bring to justice those responsible for the massacres and crimes committed in Bosnia. We express our full support for the work being carried out by the International War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, presided over by Professor Antonio Cassese.
The SI holds in high regard the work done by the NGOs and humanitarian agencies in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and calls on the international community, the European Union, the World Bank, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the other UN agencies to intensify their efforts for a full reconstruction of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
No one should forget the major political objective: that of rebuilding in the entire territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina and in all countries of the region a democratic society which is multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious.
For this reason we believe that the electoral deadline of September is of extraordinary importance, and we ask all the member parties of the SI to assist by all possibile means those parties of social democratic inspiration which are fighting for a multi-ethnic society: the Bosnian Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the Union of Bosnian Social Democrats (UBSD).
There need to be further decisive new steps aimed at establishing a fair and stable peace which guarantees the rights of all the parties in the region and of all its ethnic and religious communities. The elections in Serbia and Montenegro also should be such that they affirm fully democratic principles and rules in those two countries.
The SI reaffirms its position in support of autonomy for the population of Kosovo, Sandjak and Vojvodina within the current territorial and legal framework of the Yugoslav federation, and hopes that a final accord can be reached on good neighbourly relations and cooperation between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
With respect to the elections in neighbouring Albania, the SI disapproves of the manner in which the vote in May 1996 was held, and the serious political and institutional crisis which the elections provoked. The only way to emerge from the current crisis is through a political dialogue between government and opposition, aimed at achieving an agreement on the political and electoral steps required to return to constitutional rule. New general elections must be organised as soon as possible with full respect for international democratic standards, and precise conditions and guarantees of democratic legitimacy.
2. The democratic and economic changes in Central and Eastern Europe are of truly historic significance and strongly affect the stability of the entire continent. The Socialist International hails the achievements of the citizens of this region in building up democratic institutions and in bringing about modernisation, economic growth and political stability. The process of systematic transformation has opened up new prospects for social democrats in this region of Europe.
Today's situation is quite different from that in 1989.
During a first phase - in the period immediately following the fall of the Berlin wall - there was a widespread expectation throughout the region that a market economy would be able to satisfy quickly the demand for welfare and prosperity that decades of communist rule had not fulfilled.
This is why public opinion was swayed towards neo-liberal and free-market forces.
This hope, however, very soon revealed itself to be an illusion. The transition to a market economy has indeed entailed high economic growth rates and a modernisation of society, particularly in some countries of Central Europe. Nevertheless the shift to a market economy has occurred without appropriate rules, often in an entirely unregulated fashion, thereby causing acute social inequities. Small groups of the population, in some cases belonging to the establishment of the past regimes, accumulated vast amounts of wealth, while a large number of citizens continued to live in precarious and insecure social conditions.
For this reason, there developed a second phase in the transition, during which a vast number of citizens turned to those political forces which proposed a more balanced and fair relationship between the market and the need for social solidarity.
The SI welcomes this striving for a social market economy in Central and Eastern Europe.
This explains why in many countries of Central and Eastern Europe parties which explicitly declared themselves to be social democratic have won elections in recent years.
The vast majority of citizens in those countries certainly do not yearn for the political oppression and greyness of daily life under communist regimes. Those electoral results demonstrate, rather, that there is an undercurrent of protest against economic inequality and unregulated free-market policies, and against those who fed the illusion that the market would resolve all the contradictions inherent in the transition.
3. The recent elections in Russia have been a significant step forward in consolidating democracy and in the establishment of political pluralism. This should not make us forget, however, that there continue to be huge problems and growing difficulties.
The transition to a market economy in Russia has continued to be marked by insufficient foreign investment and by uncertainty and confusion in overall policy. There are, however, signs of a recovery in terms of economic productivity. But this continues to take place in a context of generalised uncertainty, characterised by the absence of clear rules, by the onslaught of speculative forces, by the growth of the illegal economy and, above all, by the increase in extremely acute social inequalities.
In Russia today there is a major risk. While in Central Europe public opinion has been disappointed by the inequities caused by the market and has shifted to the left, in Russia it runs the risk of following those whose authoritarian programmes are unable to channel this widespread protest into a democratic dynamic which is both reformist and modernising. Clearly, this risk is disquieting both for Russian democracy and for the future of Europe and the world.
In the post-bipolar era, Russia still plays a decisive role in the development of policies of cooperation and development in our continent. Europe and the world have a fundamental interest that in Russia and the other states of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) the transition towards democratic institutions, the consolidation of the rule of law and the stabilisation of a market economy are not halted. We all need Russia's full insertion into the pan-European institutions.
This requires more incisive action from the European Union, from international institutions, and from the individual industrialised countries aimed at a more efficient mobilisation of human and entrepreneurial resources and of the financial means needed to back the economic transformation of Russia, Ukraine and the other states of the CIS.
An important aspect of this commitment is the financial and technological support for the reconversion of the industrial and military apparatus, thereby favoring the development of civil production aimed at rebuilding the basic infrastructure and at satisfying internal consumer demand. The ongoing Chechen crisis has demonstrated the weakness of Russia's democratic institutions, has resulted in widespread human rights violations, and proves that a military solution cannot resolve the crisis. Moreover, the conflicts in other areas of the Caucasus show how strong are the risks of instability and swings towards authoritarianism.
We support the end of the military action in the Chechen Republic. We welcome the latest peace initiatives and believe that they must be developed further in order to achieve a lasting peace in the southern region of the Russian Federation.
In the current situation, the growth of progressive and democratic forces which can offer proposals and programmes of a democratic nature is of decisive importance. There is a strong need for social democracy in Russia.
The forces within the Socialist International must, therefore, be committed in their support for the progressive groups and must favour their merger, because only a new group of leaders who are truly democratic and progressive can ensure the establishment of political and economic democracy in Russia.
4. We cannot forget that the major contribution to democratic stability in all of Central and Eastern Europe lies squarely in the positive evolution of economic reforms. In this field today's main challenge is to set up a framework of clear and transparent rules as an alternative to an unregulated, laissez-faire market and which prevents the economies from becoming dominated by new nomenklaturas, and which can counter the attempts by speculators and criminal organisations to influence state power for their own purposes.
The 'market' itself cannot resolve problems and conflicts. On the contrary, a 'social market economy' needs to be developed, where economic development and a truly competitive market can be established, while at the same time equitable, safe and respectable living conditions can be guaranteed for all. It is not a question of returning to forms of statism which have by now been completely rejected by public opinion in those countries. It is rather a question of combining modernity and solidarity, efficiency and equity. This is fundamental in order to guarantee the establishment of a fully fledged, firmly rooted democracy.
To achieve such objectives, international aid is needed not only to supplement the resources of the state, but also to stimulate the flow of private investment, just as the foreign debt of each country needs to be renegotiated taking into account the specific needs of each country.
5. The Yugoslav tragedy indicates that the fall of the Berlin wall and the end of a bipolar balance of power have not, taken alone, resolved the problems of security and of democratic respect for human rights.
The end of a bipolar world has led to an unresolved tension between interdependence and nationalism, between forces which tend to unite and those which push towards a disintegration, such as that shown by a war in the heart of Europe. Moreover, what we are witnessing is not so much the break-up of the old order, but a more complex process of 'decomposition' and 'recomposition', each facet of which needs to be worked out democratically.
We want to encourage the European Union to pursue a strategy of integration by launching within six months of the end of the Inter-Governmental Conference negotiations for the enlargement of the Union, by extending the 'association' status to new countries, and by establishing new bilateral 'cooperation links' between the EU and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe while intensifying specific EU projects aimed at those countries.
The SI backs all political and military integration efforts which can favour policies of cooperation and security in the region: the strengthening of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and its conflict-prevention mechanism; a more widespread involvement of countries of Central and Eastern Europe in the Western European Union (WEU) and in the European Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy; NATO's Partnership for Peace in many countries in the region; and the prospects of the expansion of the Alliance to some of those countries.
The prospects for the enlargement of the Atlantic Alliance to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe need to be defined in terms of three objectives: that of maintaining NATO's decision-making capacity and high level of efficiency in its actions; that of providing a positive response to the demand for integration and security coming from all Central and Eastern European countries through the strengthening of the Partnership for Peace, through their integration into the Euro-Atlantic security structures and through full membership in the Alliance; and thirdly that of fully involving Russia in the region's security policy, thereby avoiding on the one hand the risk of the rebirth of surreptitious forms of bi-polarity - a new grey zone of insecurity and instability - and on the other the emergence in Moscow of suspicion and a prejudiced outlook towards the role of NATO and its enlargement.
6. Faced with the claims to national self-determination which have gradually emerged in Eastern Europe, the problem for social democrats is not simply to agree or disagree. On the one hand we cannot ignore the fact that the shapes and borders of the states in Central and Eastern Europe today are the result of two successive World Wars and do not necessarily correspond to national, ethnic or religious identity. Concurrently though, we cannot accept the position that each state's identity should be based on ethnic or religious homogeneity. The future will be marked everywhere by multi-ethnicity and multi-culturality.
This is where the task of social democracy lies: principles and methods for the birth and recognition of new state entities need to be established. In particular, three preconditions appear to be of essential importance:
- the full recognition in each state of human and political rights on an individual level and for each ethnic, cultural and religious community;
- the inviolability of borders, as stated in the charter of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) which establishes that changes to borders can result only from consensual agreement between the states involved;
- the acknowledgement that in today's modern societies there are two dimensions which coincide less and less: that of the market - which is ever more supranational and transnational and requires political entities and institutions of an analagous dimension - and the national dimension. This means that the eventual birth of new states cannot avoid taking into consideration their willingness to be part of supranational institutions.
We therefore believe that the major problem is to provide these processes with a democratic outlet, keeping them securely within the process of European integration in order to avoid those errors committed by the international community which weighed negatively on the Yugoslav drama.
Linked to this is the need to develop a European strategy on immigration which can confront the problems connected with demographic growth and development in the region, and which can regulate and rationalise the flow of immigrants, bearing in mind that the formation of multi-ethnic societies in Europe is today an irreversible process.
With the disappearance of ideological confrontation between antithetical systems, the true threats to peace and security come from the emergence of ethnic-national conflicts and from sharp economic contrasts. And we should not ignore the dangers inherent in the establishment in some countries of fundamentalist religious rule.
Ethnic and religious conflict can be avoided mainly by affirming, defending and developing the rights of persons belonging to minorities and the full acceptance of multi-ethnicity. The SI reaffirms its commitment to opposing all ultra-nationalistic, racist, xenophobic and antisemitic political movements and parties.
7. The creation of the Socialist International Committee for Central and Eastern Europe (SICEE) at the SI Council Meeting in Athens in February 1993, following the Berlin Congress in 1992, underlined not only the extraordinary historical changes which began in 1989 but also the enormous opportunities which opened up for the SI to strengthen all those movements and parties which based their platform on social democratic principles, in contrast to neo-liberal policies, and in order to play a key role in directing the democratic transition which is still taking place along reformist and progressive lines.
Since its creation SICEE has established growing cooperative ties with an increasing number of parties in Central and Eastern Europe, thereby favouring the growth of the SI's presence in the region and supporting the strengthening of social democratic parties.
With each meeting, the number of parties has grown. SICEE meetings now include the participation of 50 parties, 30 of them from Central and Eastern Europe. We believe this underlines the growing presence the SI has gained throughout the region. At the Congress in New York many parties from Central and Eastern Europe joined our International.
SICEE has been collaborating closely with the European Forum for Solidarity and Democracy which has been working successfully to support the development of democratic political parties in Central and Eastern Europe through seminars on political education, communication, and training in electoral campaigning.
The Congress opened up a second phase towards the widening of the presence of the SI in Russia, in the CIS, and in the Caucasian and Eurasian region.
What Europe will be in the future will depend in large part on the evolution of the transition processes in Central and Eastern Europe. Whether democracy, progress and solidarity will be achieved in these countries will depend in no small part on us, on our ability to spread and strengthen the values and ideals of democratic socialism and in this way connect them to the hopes of millions of men and women.
Considering that the Mediterranean is one of the regions of our world in which a plurality of cultures, languages, religions, and traditions have historically co-existed, with different degrees of tolerance and confrontation; that it is an area of great potential and at the same time a focus of serious conflicts, in which the weight of history and tradition must have their place in our analysis, but must not prejudice our commitment to building a region of peace, cooperation and mutual understanding;
Recognising that the Euro-Mediterranean Conference in Barcelona represents a big step forward for the aspirations of the progressive sectors in the region and gave rise to legitimate hopes that inequalities and injustices could be corrected through mechanisms of cooperation freely entered into by the different countries attending this historic meeting;
Noting that we see reflected in the resolutions of the Euro-Mediterranean Conference many of the elements of socialist thought such as, for instance, arms limitation and disarmament, which can transform the bases of regional cooperation, in order to secure greater peace, welfare, respect for human rights, freedom, democracy and education; and that this common project has the support of socialists and social democrats, who bring energy and dedication to the full implementation of the agreements;
Conscious that the Mediterranean region stands at a historic crossroads, where there are still profound inequalities and disjunctions of an economic, social, political, cultural and religious nature, together with a new positive spirit of which the Euro-Mediterranean Conference in Barcelona was an occasion and a symbol; that the Conference served to create a positive spirit and was an exceptional opportunity for the participants to commit themselves to a new phase of cooperation between the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean;
Underlining the importance of the contents of the Barcelona Declaration, because of the multi-dimensional character of the partnership established around the three axes - political, economic and social - which stands as a basic point of reference for cooperation in the region; that it signifies a real change, especially in terms of the relationship between the EU member countries of the northern shore and the countries of the eastern and southern shores of the Mediterranean;
The SI considers that this new phase in Mediterranean cooperation is not only possible but necessary and must be based on dialogue and mutual trust. This challenge is a political one, a question of the political will to avoid fatalism or the passive contemplation of the existing imbalances, together with a determined effort to overcome inequalities. Conscious of the difficulties which must be overcome, we are for the introduction of a social democratic agenda for the region, based on a market economy which can generate balanced development and correct inequalities.
Europe has a great responsibility for the positive or negative evolution of this new phase of cooperation based on more than 30 countries and 800 million people. It must have a political vision appropriate to the new times, to a new age of change, with its particularities and its risks of polarising tendencies: the implementation of ultra-liberal policies conducive to even greater inequalities, or tendencies to state domination and centralism for fear of some external enemy. In order to combat such tendencies we need to develop the concept of subsidiarity and move towards sub-regional integration and making partners of local authorities and civil society.
The end of the East-West confrontation has led to profound changes in the very complex field of Mediterranean security. There are more than enough elements present to envisage an uncertain future, if the structural injustice affecting the southern shore and also preventing a balanced relationship with the north persists. Security requires stability and stability requires balance. Europe can and must contribute to this balance, and must try, in its own interest, to ensure that it is a harmonious balance. The European Union must make clear to its Mediterranean partners that the borders of its member states are its external borders and that it does not accept that they be put into question.
Insecurity is born of instability, and this is always caused by socio-political and economic factors. We must therefore be more careful not to confuse risk factors with a real military threat - these are much better tackled with money than arms. It is fundamental that European public opinion avoid the erroneous idea that now the 'enemy' in the East is no more we must invent one in the South in order to justify a continuing system of security.
The phenomena of radical religious movements cause logical concern but it is naïve to believe that a policy of repression can put an end to fundamentalism. The strategy of isolating those who espouse violence, and pursuing dialogue with all democratic forces is a good starting point but there will not be stability in the societies directly affected by fundamentalism until a strong civil society emerges, and this will only be possible if there is tolerance, respect for human rights and in particular real emancipation of women.
We are concerned that the economic development programmes of the Declaration have not developed as planned. The implementation of the agreements entered into by the Mediterranean countries and the European Union must be respected. The unblocking of the funds destined for the Mediterranean Development Assistance (MEDA) programmes is essential. Equally, we must be sensitive to the factors holding back the process, especially the chapter referring to full respect for human rights, creating the mechanisms necessary so that such factors do not affect the execution of the programmes.
The third 'pillar' - that referring to social and human partnership - must be strengthened and promoted. Mobility and exchange among the citizens of the countries around the Mediterranean, as an apprenticeship in multi-culturalism, is a fundamental stepping stone to real, multi-dimensional cooperation which will foster common values, respect and understanding of differences, and put an end to the fear produced by ignorance and lack of contact. This is what is needed to guarantee balance and integration between economic, political and social partnership.
We consider it indispensable to offer new opportunities to our citizens, especially to the young - who, concentrated mainly in the South, make up 60 per cent of the region's population - guaranteeing them access to education and professional training so that they can take a full part in society. Also to offer equal opportunities, an indispensible condition for combatting poverty and social inequality and preventing the advance of fundamentalism. Only by the strengthening of social cohesion can we create a more just and egalitarian context.
The SI expresses its concern at the consequences for society and for public health caused by the traffic in drugs and by the high level of consumption by young people which is affecting their futures. In the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership we appeal to the European Union to make the fight against drugs one of its priorities, working jointly with the countries of the southern shore and furnishing the necessary technical and financial assistance for the substitution of crops.
The SI also expresses its concern at the worsening of the situation of violence and terror in Algeria and manifests its solidarity with the Algerian people who have the right to a life of peace and democracy and to real economic and social development. It considers that a push towards peace is possible if there is a real political will. The opening of a true dialogue is an urgent necessity to set in motion a peace process which is indispensable for the holding of credible elections for a legislature and for economic recovery.
We express our full support to the member parties in the Maghreb in all those initiatives in favour of the relaunching of the political, economic and social construction of a democratic Maghreb.
We are faced with the historic necessity of taking a step forward in the consolidation of a new relationship between the Mediterranean countries, with the principal aim of correcting the historic inequalities which have kept us apart, so that we can offer a more balanced region to the present and coming generations. We must put the Mediterranean on the Socialist International's map, in a very visible way, making it a priority, and move towards a renewed level of activity which can generate new political proposals.
The role to be played by the European Parliament and the parliaments of the Mediterranean in the follow-up to the Barcelona Conference are very important. In this context, the SI gives its support to the proposal of the European Parliament of 13 October 1995, seeking the creation of a parliamentary forum of the Mediterranean region formed by the parliamentary delegations of the parliaments of the Mediterranean countries and of the European Parliament.
The SI supports the accession of Cyprus to the EU and expresses its concern for the lack of progress and the continuing division of the island and calls for the implementation of the UN Resolutions which demand the withdrawal of foreign troops and elements, the respect of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus and the safeguarding of the basic freedoms of its people.
The SI calls on the United Nations to continue the efforts to reach an agreement based on justice and the respect of international law, and calls on the government of Cyprus and the Turkish community in Cyprus to show goodwill.
THE MIDDLE EAST
The Socialist International champions the peaceful co-existence of all peoples in the Middle East. This requires the observance of the following principles:
- Respect for human rights
- The right of peoples to self-determination, in conformity with the UN Charter
- The willingness for peaceful conflict-resolution
- The commitment to pluralism in political, ethnic and religious issues.
The SI expresses its concern about the violation of human rights as well as the political, ethnic and religious intolerance in many countries of the Middle East.
Only if the governments of all states in the region respect and actively put into practice the resolutions of the United Nations and the international treaties, can conflicts and crises be reduced.
The struggle against terrorism cannot be credible and successful unless there is respect for pluralism and democracy, freedom of opinion and human rights. Violence may not be answered with violence against innocent lives.
The SI emphasizes the need for a new framework for the establishment of closer relations between all countries in the Middle East and their neighbours in Europe. The Barcelona Declaration between the European Union and its Mediterranean neighbours is a nucleus for such a framework.
Within this framework especially, economic relations and foreign trade between the countries of the Middle East have to increase.
One possibility for a framework providing for increased common security in the Middle East may be a Permanent Conference on Security and Cooperation in the Middle East along the lines of the OSCE.
I The Middle East Peace Process
Momentous events have taken place in the Middle East since the XIXth Congress of the SI in Berlin. Mutual recognition between the government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation, the signing of the Declaration of Principles in September 1993, the subsequent interim agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip of September 1995, the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty, as well as the process of regional economic cooperation initiated at the Casablanca and Amman Conferences have transformed the reality of this region, making global peace an attainable objective for our generation. This considerable and historic progress is a result of the policy of the Israeli governments of prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, and of our member parties, the Israel Labour Party and MAPAM. It is also the result of the courageous decisions of the PLO and its President Yasser Arafat, as well as the work of many members of the international community.
The Congress welcomes the admission of the Fatah movement as an observer party to the Socialist International, a decision which opens a new chapter in the relations between the SI and the Palestinian people.
Since the elections in Israel in May 1996, the peace process has entered into a difficult period. The SI reaffirms its strong support for the agreements signed between the Israeli government and the PLO, and for a comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
On the Israeli-Palestinian track, the most important thing is to honour the agreements achieved between the two sides, to fulfil all the obligations of the interim stage, including the removal of the closure of the Palestinian territories and redeployment from Hebron. Negotiations on the permanent stage of the peace process must start again.
The SI reaffirms its opposition to the continuation of settlement activities in the Palestinian territories.
The SI reaffirms the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and statehood, as well as the need to find solutions to the complex and difficult issues of settlements, Jerusalem and refugees.
Aware of the gravity of the economic situation in the Palestinian territory, and of its negative impact on the Palestinian political scene, the SI calls upon the international community and the donor countries to fulfil their pledges and face their own responsibility. The SI urges member parties, both in governement and in opposition, to emphasise the need for urgent and increased economic assistance to the Palestinian territories. In this context, the SI salutes the partnership pact contracted at the Barcelona Euro-Mediterranean Summit of 1995 as an important opening towards prosperity and cooperation between all the peoples of the area.
It is of crucial importance to renew the talks between Israel on the one hand and Syria and Lebanon on the other. Those talks should be based on the principle of Land for Peace and on UN Security Council resolutions 242, 338 and 425, which must lead to peace agreements.
Particular attention must be paid to the issue of terrorism, which has not only exacted a heavy toll in innocent lives, but has also effectively disserved the cause of peace. This terror is supported by some political forces and states in the area. Terror, which is to say violence against civilians, wherever it may come from, must be fought relentlessly, in an international coordinated effort of all governments.
II The Kurds
a) The Kurds have serious problems in Turkey.
The Socialist International:
firmly supports all national and international demands for rapid progress in the democratisation process in Turkey. Needed in particular are far-reaching constitutional reforms and substantial improvements in the human rights situation;
demands the release of all political prisoners, including the DEP parliamentarians;
appeals to the Turkish authorities to open a constructive dialogue with the country's Kurdish citizens and their representatives who renounce violence;
reaffirms its conviction that a stable and democratic Turkey is of utmost importance for the future development of the region and of Europe, believing that the more democratic Turkey becomes, the more it can be part of democratic European institutions;
supports the Republican People's Party of Turkey in its struggle to ensure equal rights to the members of all ethnic, cultural and religious communities, including the Kurds.
b) The Kurds are oppressed in Iran
The Socialist International protests against the continuing persecution of the Kurdish population in Iran, and specifically of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI). The assassination of PDKI leaders Ghassemlou in 1989, and Sharafkandi in 1992, took place directly after their participation in SI Congresses. Their presence at the SI meetings had underlined the SI's solidarity with the cause of the Iranian Kurds.
Since 1993, systematic ethnic cleansing, artillery attacks and other hostile actions along the Iraqi borders have forced the Kurdish population there to seek safety in Iraqi Kurdistan. Even in this area, however, Iranian troops and aircraft have managed to carry out attacks, despite the existence of the no-fly zone that is supposed to be enforced by the powers which took part in the Gulf War.
The SI protests against these constant violations of the human rights of the Iranian Kurds and their representatives, the PDKI, by the Iranian regime.
We support initiatives to improve the human rights situation in Iran, such as the manifesto of the 134, which demands the lifting of censorship in Iran. Such initiatives are aimed at improving living conditions in that country.
c) The Kurds are oppressed in Iraq
The SI advocates the continuation of international guarantees for the Kurds in northern Iraq, as they were introduced by the imposition and monitoring of the safe-haven zone north of the 36th parallel.
d) The continuous problems and oppression of the Kurdish people do not justify the violent conflict between the Kurdish factions. These conflicts serve as a pretext for violence against them.
The SI appeals to all politically responsible leaders of the Kurds to cooperate in a peaceful and pluralistic way.
The new military conflicts in the area inhabited by the Kurds show that a lasting peace settlement in the Middle East which does not also enshrine in international law the rights of the Kurdish people would be incomplete and would only provide a breeding ground for permanent crises.
The SI calls upon all states involved to contribute to the peaceful solution of the Kurdish problems. The SI condemns all terrorist actions be they committed against the Kurds or by Kurdish organisations.
The SI is deeply concerned about military actions in Kurdish-populated territory of northern Iraq. The SI supports all efforts undertaken by the United Nations to bring about a peaceful solution to this conflict.
III Iran and Iraq
The SI calls upon all states in the Middle East, especially Iraq and Iran, to be peaceful members of the international community, to implement the resolutions of the United Nations, to take part in the fight against international terrorism and to respect the human rights of all their citizens.
LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
After a long struggle against dictatorships and military regimes, democracy and free elections are now a reality in the vast majority of Latin American countries. The Socialist International and social democratic parties have played a leading role in this victory, a role which has kept them - individually or in association with other democratic movements in the region - at the forefront of the struggle to establish and develop political democracy, respect for human rights and peace in Latin America.
Latin American democrats have fought for decades against authoritarian regimes, military coups and the economic and social under-development imposed under the rule of military juntas and local oligarchies. The region's social democrats have been fighting to change this state of affairs and promote development and social justice.
Democracy in the region is currently facing new challenges. Control of traditional institutions is now being disputed. The media, once in the hands of a powerful few, are now playing an increasingly influential role in the democratic process. Public opinion, nourished by a greater supply of information, is beginning to give an added dimension to democracy that the political party organisations have yet to absorb. The inability of traditional political structures to meet popular demands for social reform has resulted in adverse reactions to the political parties. This is a clear indication of the need to introduce political reforms that will open the way for more participatory forms of democracy. The problems of democracy are resolved by even greater democracy and true socialism is democracy extended to all areas and levels of society.
Harsh structural adjustment programmes accentuate the disenchantment among the people. The appearance of dangerous symptoms of instability in some countries is a cause for concern and could have negative effects on developments elsewhere in the region. Democracy is the fundamental basis of our strategy and that is why we are fighting to establish democracy in all areas. Our opposition to the economic sanctions against Cuba is based mainly on the need to remove barriers and facilitate a peaceful transition towards multi-party democracy in that country.
In facing the challenge of globalisation and the emergence of a new economic culture, Latin America is at a considerable disadvantage with regard to human resources. The lack of training in this field means that globalisation will give rise to the de-nationalisation of companies in many Latin American countries. At the same time, the slow rate of economic recovery will aid anti-democratic elements who wish to undermine the credibility of political parties.
The Socialist International shares the Latin American people's concern over worsening social problems, the result of inadequate economic systems based on primary products and the imposition of unfair international conditions. We recognise the need to develop a strategy based on developing human resources. It is impossible to maintain people's faith in democracy when they are suffering from hunger and poverty. An overwhelming national debt keeps many countries in a state of economic weakness. This debt, combined with increasing poverty, is an obvious symptom of the fact that the production base and the international price regime restrict the economic and social progress of the Latin American nations.
Better social conditions are vital for economic development, which today depends more than ever on the education of the population. For this reason, the social democrats of Latin America reject the neo-liberal monetary strategy, which is limited to controlling macro-economic variables, thus maintaining the low level of local production. This leads to the decline of local economies, perpetuating ignorance, fomenting violence and other social evils, increasing external dependency and threatening the region with ungovernability.
The reduction of the state and the dismantling of welfare programmes in most countries in the region is a severe contradiction in view of the need to improve the educational training of the Latin American people which they need to function in the new culture of information. Programmes for public spending cuts therefore should not include education, since this forms the very foundation for the creation of wealth.
The people of Latin America - who must develop the conditions to be competitive at international level - have recognised the need to improve and strengthen regional alliances. Progress has been made in opening up trade between countries in the region and, in this respect, we confirm the importance of Mercosur, whose dynamism sets a standard for the orientation of commercial policies. Our aim is to create a true community of nations so that regional cooperation is transformed into another means of achieving sustainable progress and development.
Regional cooperation must be complemented by permanent efforts to improve the technology of the region's productive base. The value of goods is increasingly dependent on the amount of technical know-how involved in producing them. Technological progress in regional production is vital for the development of democracy and the establishment of social justice in Latin America, a task which is virtually impossible with the semi-feudal production systems still existing in many parts of the region.
The Socialist International, which has worked to improve North-South relations, supports the long-standing efforts of its Latin American members for economic cooperation and for more fair distribution of the surplus generated by the more developed economies. This means making a determined and substantial reduction in military spending in order to release more resources for investing in people.
The trend towards decentralisation - which has arisen as a result of the new culture of information and has even affected the more marginal areas of the region - will require greater civic action and more involvement on the part of citizens at the community level.
In the same way, we believe in the advantage of the greater involvement of women in the political process. Some of our parties have made progress in the struggle to break down the old prejudices that are delaying the valuable inclusion of women in political and economic life.
As social democrats, we reaffirm our support for the re-establishment of the ethical principles of democracy in order to combat the major problems and meet the challenges of Latin America, and especially in combatting the detrimental effects of drugs - in every field and at all levels - on institutions, safety and public health.
Sustainable development is an important issue in Latin America, where major battles are being fought to protect the environment. The deforestation of the Amazon Basin, over-fishing and pollution are the consequences of economic policies based on economic ultra-liberalism, the social irresponsibility of certain companies and the profit motive as the overriding criterion of the economy.
The Socialist International is pleased by the progress made in the peace negotiations in Guatemala and the resumption of the democratic process in Haiti. It is also pleased that the efforts of the Central American people have resulted in the establishment - for the longest period in their history - of freely elected governments. During the accomplishment of this task, the Socialist International has maintained its active support for the movements committed to the promotion of democracy and social justice throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
Half the world's population will soon be living in towns and cities. For urban populations, the municipality is both the place in which they live and where they confront the basic problems of everyday life. But because power is at its most accessible and most easily identifiable at the level of the municipality, this also makes it the ideal place to promote contact between citizens and their elected representatives.
In countries throughout the world, there is an increasing preference for socialist-run local authorities. In many countries, the strength of the socialist movement is largely based on well-established local organisations. But this strength is also a major responsibility and it is essential that elected representatives prove they are worthy of the trust placed in them.
In response to our changing societies, modern socialism must be based on a simpler and more 'horizontal' system of organisation and concern itself with the problems of everyday urban life. Because it is strongly committed to freedom, peace, progress and development beneficial to all, the Socialist International is determined to approach the 21st century with a heightened awareness of the problems faced by ordinary citizens.
To this end, the SI organised a major conference on the theme of "The Urban Face of Socialism", held in Bologna, Italy, on 28-29 January 1995. The two-day conference was attended by 300 mayors and other delegates from 53 countries who, after much debate, adopted the 21-point Bologna Declaration. They also agreed to pursue the issue and to take positive steps to humanise the urban environment. One such initiative was the launching in Istanbul, on 5 June 1996, of the SI Committee on Local Authorities, within the context of HABITAT II, the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements.
The Bologna Declaration considers urban problems within the general context of the momentous changes that are taking place worldwide: the world economy, the age of information, the dissolution of political and military blocs, the strengthening of international institutions. Unfortunately, all this has not necessarily resulted in the creation of more equitable economic and social balances between the regions or between the inhabitants within regions. On the contrary, the gulf continues to widen between those who have prospered and those left behind by these changes.
At the same time, local and regional authorities are becoming much stronger, as economic entities and in terms of their collective identity and political involvement. But towns and cities also provide the most visible manifestation of the contradictions within our societies: the contradiction between development and protection of the environment, between waste and poverty, between the concept of freedom and the reality of exclusion.
Towns and cities have the potential for developing democracy at local level, for involving citizens in the management of public affairs and strengthening an integrated and collective identity. This aspect of democracy and citizenship formed the subject of a special report at the Committee meeting in Istanbul.
The Socialist International demands that local authorities worldwide be democratically elected by the people and not appointed by central governments.
The men and women living in the world's towns and cities have and must have equal political and social rights. The true affirmation of citizenship is legal equality regardless of nationality or ethnic origin, the right of all inhabitants and their families to participate in the political life of the local community, and equal access - in real terms and for all citizens - to the basic services offered by the town or city in which they live.
Towns and cities are ideally suited to democratic innovation, since this is where the direct relationship between electors and representatives has the greatest potential, where public administration is much more accessible and where direct consultation is more easily achieved.
Of course, it is the responsibility of individual states to introduce policies that ensure social cohesion and the protection of the rights and freedoms of the population. But the local authorities must be given the powers and financial resources necessary to introduce practical policies that are beneficial to their citizens, for example, in the fields of health, education, environment, safety, housing, and public transport and to combat poverty.
It is essential to promote solidarity between rich and poor towns and cities. It is also fundamentally important to design and promote models for development that encourage a more sparing use of resources and mutually supportive relations between rich and poor towns and cities.
It is unfortunately all too obvious that unemployment, social marginalisation and the informal economy create an obstacle to the rights of citizenship. While national and regional governments are responsible for promoting economic development, for bridging the gap between the official and unofficial economies and for creating greater job opportunities, local authorities can usefully intervene in the field of job-creation by introducing active policies in such fields as local services, urban ecology, the maintenance of infrastructures and equipment, public works policies, etc.
During the HABITAT II Conference, the SI clearly expressed its support for the right of every individual to reasonable accommodation.
The housing problem is particularly relevant since, along with health, employment and family structure, it is central to the preoccupations of urban populations. It is also of direct concern to the public authorities within the context of their development and planning policies. Housing plays a crucial role in the creation of a good-quality environment, in the attractiveness and therefore the image presented by a particular town or city.
The Socialist International welcomes the holding of the World Assembly on Cities and Local Authorities in Istanbul, as well as the participation of local authorities in the HABITAT II Conference. These initiatives open the way for new courses of action at the international level that recognise urban populations and local authorities as part of the system of the United Nations and other international organisations.
The Socialist International intends to promote the dialogue between local and regional socialist representatives, and their federations, in the context of international events.
Following the Bologna Conference, the Socialist International will also be periodically organising major conferences for local and regional socialist representatives.
THE UNITED NATIONS AND OUR INTERNATIONAL
This Congress is meeting in New York in recognition of the crucial role of the United Nations in today's world. Four years ago the Socialist International held its Congress in a newly reunited Berlin, a symbol of freedom for people around the world. Today, the United Nations is not only a symbol of the global yearning for peace, it is the principal institution for promoting international cooperation at a time when it is needed most. Our International is pleased and grateful for the opportunity to hold its Congress at UN headquarters and we stand ready to continue supporting and strengthening the United Nations in the spirit of a common effort to secure a better world for all.