REPORT OF THE SECRETARY GENERAL
I am pleased to present my report to this SI Council in Lisbon, a city that always brings back fond memories of our successful Council here almost eight years ago. I would therefore like to thank our comrades and friends of the Portuguese Socialist Party yet again for being such gracious hosts, a party whose leader is President of our International, with whom I have the pleasure to work so closely.
Upon the 50th anniversary of our International it is appropriate that we meet in Europe, for it was in Frankfurt in 1951 when the Socialist International formally embraced the principles that made us the most dynamic political movement in the world during the second half of the 20th century. Now, as we move further into this new millennium, we gather to reaffirm our belief in peace, democracy and social justice — fundamental values that we understand must go hand in hand, as we will underline when we address the opening theme of our Council: ‘Building on our achievements • Furthering our ideals • Carrying our vision forward — Social Democracy in the World Today’.
We reaffirm our principles at a time when social democracy continues to inspire more and more people everywhere. However, it is also a time of some disturbing political winds that could threaten gains we have made as well as the prospects for ensuring that the globalisation process is fair.
Responding to the latest global trends, the Council in Lisbon is calling for the immediate ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, a focus of our discussions on ‘sustainable development and the urgent task of saving our environment’. We are also looking at ways to carry out the task of ‘humanising globalisation’ through reform of the World Trade Organisation, WTO.
As a further priority, in line with the decision of the SI Executive, our Council will consider initiatives for peace in the Middle East and in Africa. The conflicts in these regions are among the most deeply rooted and difficult in the world today. Our determination to contribute to resolving them in a peaceful and lasting way has long been recognised. Which is one of the reasons why people continue to find a home in our social democratic family.
OUR WORK ON GLOBAL ISSUES
Economy, Social Cohesion and the Environment
The Socialist International continues to move forward with its efforts on global issues, as has been particularly evident in the recent activities of our Committee on the Economy, Social Cohesion and the Environment and its Working Groups on the Kyoto Protocol and Related Environmental Issues and on the World Trade Organisation, WTO.
Following on its meeting in Berlin last year, when it addressed the issue of political responsibility in a global society, the Committee on the Economy, Social Cohesion and the Environment met on 4-5 May in Casablanca. The gathering, hosted by the Socialist Union of Popular Forces, USFP, and chaired by Christoph Zöpel of the German Social Democratic Party, SPD, included participants from around the world.
Abderrahman Youssoufi, Prime Minister of Morocco, leader of the host party and an SI Vice President, in his welcoming remarks focused on the challenges presented by globalisation when he stated, ‘The planet is still increasingly divided and the gaps are widening’. Zöpel, the Chair of the Committee, added that there must be renewed emphasis on strengthening the social dimension of the world economy so that it responds to the aspirations of the many rather than just the few.
The Committee addressed two main themes: ‘Economic Policy and Globalisation: Growth, Equity and Social Justice’, and ‘Ecology — Safeguarding the Global Heritage’. Participants offered a number of substantial contributions on these issues that were included in a document entitled, ‘How to Make the World Economy More Social’.
Key measures called for by the Committee include putting development strategies back at the top of the global agenda and working for more efficient debt relief, in line with the ongoing SI campaign to lift the debt of the world’s poorest countries. It also recommends more effective regulation of trade and financial flows and reform of international institutions, and it reiterates the fundamental social democratic belief that ‘global progress depends on global solidarity’.
The Committee will gather next in Mexico City at the end of September and will have as its main theme, 'Bridges across the Digital Gap: the Role of Education in the 21st Century'.
The Kyoto Protocol and Related Environmental Issues
The activities of this Working Group, which will now be called the Working Group on the Kyoto Protocol and Related Environmental Issues, is of heightened importance given the recent negative developments regarding the Protocol itself and the environment in general. The Group met in Oslo in January and in London in June, gatherings chaired by Siri Bjerke, Norwegian Minister of the Environment and Chair of the Working Group.
The Group has already produced a set of criteria and elaborated common positions with regard to the Conference of the Parties to the Climate Convention, and the World Summit on Sustainable Development that will take place in South Africa in 2002. Following discussions on the latest developments affecting the Kyoto process and other environmental issues, the Group produced a paper on sustainable development for consideration by our Council in Lisbon.
The International also has been heard on a number of recent developments, including the clear position we took in April against the change in policy announced by the United States with regard to the Kyoto Protocol, and we are planning with our Working Group to be involved in the forthcoming international forums on environmental issues.
The World Trade Organisation
The meeting of our Working Group on the World Trade Organisation in London on 10 April was also timely, particularly given the increasing concerns around the world about the need for the WTO and other international institutions to meet the demands for a more equitable world economy. The gathering, chaired by Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja of the Finnish Social Democratic Party, Chair of the Working Group, continued the work begun at its first meeting in Maputo at the time of our Council last year.
Members of the Group addressed a number of issues, including finding ways to better manage globalisation and how trade can be conducted to ensure that the benefits of economic development are shared by all people. The Group is presenting for the Council's consideration a draft resolution focusing on the next WTO ministerial meeting to be held in Doha in November. In accordance with our decision in the SI Executive, the Council will be addressing the issue of reform of the WTO, and it is appropriate that WTO Director General Mike Moore will be here to join our discussions.
Further activities of the Group are being planned, including a seminar to be held in India later this year.
Peace, Democracy and Human Rights
Since the meeting of the SI Committee on Peace, Democracy and Human Rights in Prague in October, we have continued planning for three special sessions of the Committee. The first will examine the issue of conflict resolution and will be held in Addis Ababa. Another will concentrate on the promotion of human rights and will be convened at the United Nations Geneva. The third will be held at the UN headquarters in New York and will assess the role of the United Nations and proposals for reforming the body.
The Chair of the Committee, Milos Zeman, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, will present in Lisbon a progress report on the work of the Committee and its planned future activities. The report includes an assessment of the new nature of conflict in the world that I presented to the Committee at the request of the Chair.
In line with our overall work on behalf of human rights, I represented the International at a meeting in February in Geneva with Mary Robinson, the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, also attended by representatives of the other international political organisations.
We are preparing for the forthcoming meeting of the SI Committee on Local Authorities which will be held in Mexico City on 23-24 July 2001, hosted by the two SI member parties in Mexico, the Party of Democratic Revolution, PRD, and the Institutional Revolutionary Party, PRI.
The meeting, to be chaired by Hermes Binner of the Popular Socialist Party, PSP, of Argentina, Chair of the Committee and Mayor of Rosario, will continue the work of elaborating the criteria for the rights and responsibilities of local authorities in a democratic society during the era of globalisation. Items on the provisional agenda include the Charter for cities governed by socialists, indicators of the quality of urban life and fiscal autonomy. Also to be discussed is the work of the International in preparing for our III World Conference of Mayors to be held in Athens in November, hosted by PASOK.
OUR ACTIVITIES AROUND THE WORLD
The Middle East
Following a decision of the SI Executive, François Hollande, First Secretary of the Socialist Party of France and an SI Vice President, and I were in Tel Aviv and Ramallah on 24 June for talks with leaders of SI member parties. We met in Tel Aviv with Yossi Sarid, Chair of Meretz and leader of the opposition in the Israeli Knesset, and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres of the Israeli Labour Party. In Ramallah we met with Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestinian Authority and President of Fatah.
In the meetings we received a direct assessment of current developments in the region, heard the views of the parties on the conflict and the prospects for easing tensions and resuming the negotiations for peace. The meetings were held to help prepare for the discussions of the Council regarding peace efforts in the Middle East, one of the main themes on the agenda in Lisbon, and to incorporate into our decisions and resolutions the perspectives of the principal players in the region.
Our International has stayed involved in the difficult, ongoing situation in the Middle East, maintaining contacts and encouraging dialogue. Foreign Minister Thorbjørn Jagland, leader of the Norwegian Labour Party, Chair of the SI Middle East Committee and a member of the Mitchell Commission, has remained in regular communication throughout this period with members of our movement and other important actors in the region.
The Kurdish Question
As part of the International’s work on matters affecting the Kurds, an SI mission, including members of the SIMEC Working Group on the Kurdish Question, went to Northern Iraq in mid-June to evaluate at first hand the situation there, including the implementation of the Washington Agreements between the Kurdistan Democratic Party, KDP, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, PUK, of Iraq and prospects in general for the Kurdish areas in that country. The members of the mission were Conny Fredriksson, Chair of the Working Group, and Morgan Johansson both of the Swedish Social Democratic Party, SAP; Karim Pakzad of the Socialist Party of France; and Karl Schramek of the Social Democratic Party of Austria.
The mission to Northern Iraq followed on the meeting of the Working Group in March in Brussels, hosted by the Socialist Party, PS, of Belgium, where members of the Working Group reviewed the latest developments with delegates from the SI member Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, PDKI; the KDP; the PUK; and from the People’s Democracy Party, Hadep, of Turkey. The Group also proposed the holding of an SI Conference on the Kurdish Question during 2002.
The SI Africa Committee, following on our Council in Maputo and the Committee’s previous meeting in Praia, Cape Verde, continued the work of our International in Africa when it met in Niamey, Niger, on 1-2 June. The gathering was hosted by the Party for Democracy and Socialism of Niger, PNDS, led by Mahamadou Issoufou, and chaired by Ousmane Tanor Dieng, First Secretary of the Socialist Party of Senegal and Chair of the Committee.
In Niamey representatives of social democratic parties and organisations from throughout Africa, joined by members of the International from other parts of the world, discussed in depth the principal theme of the meeting, ‘The Social Democratic Programme in Africa’, which was reflected in the Niamey Declaration.
The Committee underlined three main points: the advancement, strengthening and consolidation of democracy on the continent; achieving peace and security for the all the peoples of Africa; and the priority of fighting poverty and securing sustainable development everywhere in this region. It emphasised that the struggle against poverty and inequality in this era of globalisation requires ever greater international solidarity and cooperation.
In Niamey we also welcomed the freeing from prison of Alpha Condé, leader of the SI member Guinean People's Assembly, RPG, following the major campaign for his release by our International. At the same time, we demanded that all civil rights still denied to Professor Condé by the government of Guinea be restored immediately.
Throughout the region we continued to maintain contacts with our member parties regarding key political and economic developments, including in Côte d'Ivoire where President Laurent Gbagbo is strengthening democratic institutions, and in Cape Verde where our member the African Party of Cape Verde's Independence, PAICV, won both the parliamentary and the presidential elections, and Pedro Pires, former leader of the PAICV, is now president and José Maria Neves prime minister.
Asia and the Pacific
A highlight of the meeting of our Asia-Pacific Committee in Tokyo on 5-6 March was the bringing together of representatives from the ruling parties in South Korea and North Korea — the Millennium Democratic Party of the Republic of Korea in the South, and the Workers Party of Korea from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the North. We valued their informative contributions to our discussions and the gathering, hosted by the Social Democratic Party of Japan, was widely perceived in the region as providing critical support for the difficult process of reconciliation between the two countries.
The Committee endorsed the establishment of a Northeast Asia Security Organisation, whose members would include Japan, China, the Republic of Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Mongolia, Russia, the United States and Canada. This project was introduced by SI Vice President Takako Doi, leader of the host party.
Following its deliberations the Committee adopted the Tokyo Declaration, a wide-ranging document that underlines the International’s overall and continuing support for democracy, peace and security in this vast region. It also expresses the concerns of the International regarding recent developments in individual countries such as Burma, where repressive conditions remain in force despite recent, potentially positive developments, and Malaysia, where the movement for democracy continues to gather momentum despite numerous obstacles.
After the meeting in Tokyo I met in Manila with Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Norberto Gonzales, leader of the SI member Philippine Democratic Socialist Party, PDSP, to express the support of the International for efforts in that country toward better democracy and more effective democratic institutions.
Latin America and the Caribbean
The SI Committee on Latin America and the Caribbean, SICLAC, met on 11-12 June in Buenos Aires, hosted by the Radical Civic Union, UCR, and the Popular Socialist Party, PSP, with delegates from throughout the Western hemisphere and from Europe attending. The gathering was chaired by Raúl Alfonsín, UCR, former president of Argentina, and Anselmo Sule of the Chilean Social Democratic Radical Party, PSDR, Co-Chairs of the Committee.
SICLAC has been on the front lines in the decades-long struggle for democracy in the region. Recognising that a principal goal now is to preserve and consolidate the gains that have been made, the Committee, following an extended discussion reflected in a document entitled, ‘Towards the Deepening of Democracy’, underlined the need for greater citizen participation in the democratic process and a stronger sense of solidarity among democratic forces.
The Committee also adopted a resolution on Puerto Rico, which reiterated our support for an immediate end to the U.S. military manoeuvres and bombing on the island of Vieques and our solidarity with Rubén Berríos Martínez, President of the Puerto Rican Independence Party, PIP, and all others who have been tried and jailed for their peaceful acts of civil disobedience, as was originally expressed in two statements issued by the International in May.
On Peru the Committee expressed satisfaction at the holding of the recent free, fair and transparent elections, congratulating Alan García as well for his part in them.
I should also note that during this period I had the opportunity to attend the congress of the Socialist Party of Chile in Santiago and the congress of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, FSLN, in Managua. The FSLN, and our member parties the National Liberation Party, PLN, of Costa Rica, which has nominated our SI Vice President Rolando Araya as its presidential candidate, and the Liberal Party of Colombia, PLC, are expected to do well in elections during the next twelve months. The prospects are also good for the People’s Electoral Movement, MEP, of Aruba, where the recent collapse of the right-wing government means a new vote must be held by mid-August.
During its meeting in Palma de Mallorca on 1-2 December, the SI Mediterranean Committee continued its work involving the SI member parties of the European, African and Middle Eastern countries that encircle the Mediterranean. The gathering was hosted by the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, PSOE, whose delegation was led by Secretary General José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.
Following discussions of the current issues affecting this region, the Committee outlined in a working paper the prospects and priorities for strengthening a Euro-Mediterranean partnership, with joint responsibility of all the countries in the north and south of the Mediterranean in the political, economic, social and cultural spheres.
The Committee also reviewed political trends in the various countries of the region, with particular focus on Cyprus, as the Committee reiterated its support for the efforts of the Secretary General of the United Nations and the decisions of the Security Council for a peaceful and lasting solution to the Cypriot issue.
A few months later in March, I was pleased to represent the International in Casablanca at the congress of the Socialist Union of Popular Forces, USFP, led by our Vice President Prime Minister Abderrahman Youssoufi of Morocco.
We have also been following with concern the latest developments in Algeria, where the protests demonstrate the frustrations and the desire of people for real democratic reform and respect for human rights.
Central and Eastern Europe
The SI Committee for Central and Eastern Europe, SICEE, will meet in Lisbon on the eve of our Council. The Committee, co-chaired by Piero Fassino (DS, Italy) and László Kovács (MSzP, Hungary) is expected to report to the Council on the latest developments in the Balkans and the issue of European Union enlargement.
Our International, long involved in efforts toward achieving peaceful, democratic solutions in the Balkans, as was evident when the Committee met in Zagreb, will meet next in Belgrade in September as a concrete expression of our support for the democratic process now underway in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) and in solidarity with social democratic forces and other democratic organisations there.
Following the decisions taken by the SI Executive at its meeting in Brussels in May, our International is moving forward with a number of activities. Many of these initiatives, at both the regional and global levels, I have already mentioned, as they will follow on the dynamic and well attended meetings of our Committees held prior to our Council in Lisbon.
We are also planning an SI Conference on Peace in Africa, which will enhance our efforts to promote peaceful resolutions to the conflicts on the continent and provide a forum for increasing cooperation on peace and security.
In Paris in October we will be holding a meeting to further the SI campaign for debt relief for the world's poorest countries. The event, to be hosted by the Socialist Party of France, will include the participation of experts on the issue as well as contributions from non-governmental organisations and invited guests.
Finally, on behalf of the SI Executive, I recently travelled to the Dominican Republic, where we will be holding our next Council in late November. I met with President Hipólito Mejía of the Dominican Revolutionary Party, PRD, and Hatuey DeCamps, President of the party, to begin preparations for this gathering that will underline the International's long commitment and deepening solidarity with the people of Latin America and the Caribbean and throughout the developing world.