for a more humane society - for a world more fair and just
The XXI Congress of the International, held in Paris from 8 to 10 November 1999, brought together from all continents heads of government and party leaders of the social democratic movement under the banner ‘for a more humane society, for a world more fair and just’ with the two main themes: ‘Democratic socialism in the next century’ and ‘The path of peace and solidarity’.
Representatives from more than 150 parties and organisations attended the Congress.
The International returned to Europe, fittingly to Paris, a city rich in the history of the struggle for liberty, justice and equality, for this twenty-first Congress following the successful Congress held at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York in 1996. This meeting, held seven years after the momentous Congress in Berlin, also remembered the tenth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Opening the meeting, François Hollande, First Secretary of the Socialist Party, PS, France, welcomed the participants. Pierre Mauroy, outgoing SI President, in his opening address reflected on his time at the head of the International and on the expansion of the organisation in recent years.
Debating the main themes were democratic socialist leaders. They included heads of government: Lionel Jospin, Prime Minister of France; Gerhard Schröder, Chair of the Social Democratic Party, SPD, and Chancellor of Germany; Tony Blair, leader of the British Labour Party and Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; Fernando de la Rúa, President-elect of Argentina; Wim Kok, leader of the Labour Party, PvdA, and Prime Minister of the Netherlands; Massimo D’Alema, President of the Democrats of the Left, DS, and Prime Minister of Italy; Costas Simitis, President of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement, PASOK, and Prime Minister of Greece; Abderrahman Youssoufi, First Secretary of the Socialist Union of Popular Forces, USFP, and Prime Minister of Morocco; Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, President of the African Party for Solidarity and Justice, ADEMA-PASJ, and Prime Minister of Mali; Ehud Barak, Chair of the Israel Labour Party and Prime Minister of Israel; Yasser Arafat, President of Fatah and President of the Palestinian National Authority; Navim Ramgoolam, leader of the Mauritius Labour Party and Prime Minister of Mauritius; and Paavo Lipponen, leader of the Social Democratic Party and Prime Minister of Finland.
Further distinguished speakers included: Felipe González, chair of the Global Progress Commission; Ousmane Tanor Dieng, First Secretary of the Socialist Party in Senegal; Dolors Renau, President of the Socialist International Women; Shimon Peres, Minister for Regional Cooperation, Israel; Sushil Koirala, General Secretary of the Nepali Congress Party; Jaime Paz Zamora, Leader of the Revolutionary Left Movement, MIR-New Majority, and former president of Bolivia; László Kovács, Chair of the Hungarian Socialist Party, MSzP, and former foreign minister of Hungary; Thorbjørn Jagland, leader of the Norwegian Labour Party, DNA; Joaquín Almunia, Secretary of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, PSOE; Lena Hjelm Wallén, Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden; Enrique Barón, Chair of the Parliamentary Group of the Party of European Socialists; Rudolf Scharping, President of the Party of European Socialists and Minister of Defence, Germany; John Hume, leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, SDLP, of Northern Ireland; Walter Veltroni, National Secretary of the Democrats of the Left, Italy; Radnaasumbereliin Gonchigdorj, Chair of the Mongolian Social Democratic Party and Speaker of the Mongolian Parliament; Hocine Aït Ahmed, President of the Socialist Forces Front, Algeria; João Lourenço, Secretary General of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola; Anselmo Sule, President of the Radical Social Democratic Party, Chile; Elio Di Rupo, President of the Socialist Party, Belgium; Jacob Zuma, Deputy President of the African National Congress and Deputy President of South Africa; Vassos Lyssarides, President of the EDEK Socialist Party of Cyprus; Enrico Boselli, Chair of the Italian Democratic Socialists; and Altan Öymen, Chair of the Republican People’s Party, Turkey.
The ‘Declaration of Paris’ reflecting the debate on the first main theme, was adopted unanimously by the Congress.
As the highest statutory body of the International, the Congress also decided on the admission of new member parties and organisations. The Congress admitted thirteen parties to various categories of membership, as well as a new associated organisation. Membership status was also upgraded for a number of parties (List of new members and changes of status).
In elections to the Presidium of the Socialist International, António Guterres, Secretary General of the Socialist Party and Prime Minister of Portugal, was unanimously elected President.
Guterres paid tribute to Pierre Mauroy’s work as President of the SI since 1992 and proposed that he become an Honorary President of the International. The Secretary General, Luis Ayala, who presented a report on the inter-Congress activities of the SI, was re-elected by the Congress. Vice-Presidents were also elected (Members of the Presidium).
The Secretary General presented a number of proposals on the structure and organisation of the International which were approved by the Congress. The initiatives included the establishment of a small group within the Presidium, an Executive, to work closely with the President and the Secretary General. The holding of a new type of progressive world forum with the participation of leading social democratic personalities, including governmental leaders, as well as noted economists, academics and labour and business figures was agreed. Further initiatives included enhancing the work of the Council, developing an expanded communications strategy of the International, pursuing alternative sources of funding, establishing structures to help advance, where needed, the organisational capacity of member parties by drawing on the resources and experience of members, and strengthening the capability of SIFAC to increase its representativity.
Focusing on a number of regional and thematic concerns to the Socialist International, a General Resolution was adopted on the final day of the XXI Congress. Issues addressed included democracy, peace and development and globalisation in Africa; priorities and perspective for social democracy in Asia and the Pacific; the situation in Europe and issues concerning Central and Eastern Europe; developments in the Mediterranean; the renewal of the Middle East peace process; the challenges for Latin America and the Caribbean; and the work of local and regional authorities. The resolution also considered in detail many national situations (General Resolution in full).