The meeting was inaugurated by President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique and hosted by SI member party Frelimo, and was chaired by the Socialist International President, Prime Minister António Guterres of Portugal.
Leading African figures and representatives of SI member parties around the world took part in the two-day session. (List of participants) The Council discussed other political issues, such as the situation in the Middle East, received a report from the Secretary General and adopted resolutions on Angola, Dominican Republic and Western Sahara. The venue of the following meeting of the Council, as decided in Maputo, was in Lisbon in June 2001.
The Council of the Socialist International met in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique on 10-11 November 2000, hosted by Frelimo and its leader President Joaquim Chissano. The main theme of the gathering was, "The way forward for Africa: a worldwide commitment for development, peace and democracy" and consideration was given to the issues of ways of ending hostilities in Africa, the International's role in promoting democratic regimes and an agenda to combat the economic marginalisation of the continent.
In his inaugural address to the second SI Council meeting held in Southern Africa President Chissano emphasised that his country was repairing the massive destruction caused by the rains, floods and cyclones which had hit it earlier in the year and thanked the foreign donors who had contributed to the effort of reconstruction. Despite the fact that the continent had been divided, exploited and colonised, its civilisations destroyed, its natural wealth plundered and its youth, its most important resource, taken off into slavery, Africa, he said, was a continent which had to be looked at in a spirit of solidarity and not of pity.
The weight of the past was still felt in the fact that almost half of all Africans live below the poverty line, the majority of Africans are illiterate, life expectancy short and illnesses such as Malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS common. Africans still tended to be victims rather than the beneficiaries of globalisation.
On the question of foreign debt he pointed out that, despite a sharp reduction in foreign debt, Mozambique was still spending US$100 million a year on debt servicing. This sum represented 22 per cent of the state budget and more than was being spent on education, health, police and the justice system combined.
Referring to the difficulties of African agriculture and the subsidisation of European farmers he called for the International to raise its voice in favour of a fairer deal for the continent.
He went on to outline the strategies needed to be adopted to improve Africa's prospects - peace and stability, including macro-economic stability; the strengthening of democracy; the adoption of policies for rapid economic growth; the best use of human resources; the training of personnel and a halt to the brain drain; good government, transparency and a fight against corruption; an offensive against diseases and the acquisition of the science and technology which would allow Africa to industrialise in a competitive manner. The target must be, he said an annual economic growth rate of 7 per cent.
In Mozambique's case, he reported, the economic growth rate over the previous five years had been on average 8 per cent a year and on occasion touched 14 per cent. Life expectancy had risen from 41.7 to 43.5 years from 1994 to date, adult literacy had gone from 39.5 to 40 per cent, enrolment in school went from 25 to 45 per cent of children and the gross national product per capita rose from 62 to 95.2 US dollars.
He paid tribute to the government of Angola in its fight against the Unita rebellion and called for greater efforts for peace in Congo and the Great Lakes region.
The SI, he concluded, had the opportunity to play a historic role in the task of building a better world. "We are," he said, "partners in an ideal in which we all must be the winners."
Replying to the host's welcome António Guterres, president of the SI and prime minister of Portugal, said the gathering in Mozambique gave the International a great opportunity of sending a message worldwide that we were not prepared to put up with a situation in which the benefits accruing in a globalised world meant that Africa was pushed to the margin. As it was organised today the world was not giving Africa a fair chance of development. Consequently the SI calls for the cancellation of the international debt of the poorest countries. He went on to criticise as hypocritical the bureaucratic obstacles which prevented the more developed countries writing off poorer countries' debt.
The solution to African problems cannot be achieved if economic globalisation is not regulated and the tendency towards the globalisation of poverty is not reversed. In that context he said that the International was set on strengthening the United Nations and on making it more democratic including the establishment of a standing military force at the service of the Security Council.
He paid tribute to the electoral victory won by Laurent Gbagbo in Côte d'Ivoire mentioning, too, the defeat of the Mexican member party PRI after many decades in power as a proof of its commitment to democratic values. "Some defeats are victories", he commented. He saluted the accession to the presidency of Hipólito Mejía in the Dominican Republic and the award of a Nobel Peace Prize to Kim Dae-Jung in Korea.
He thanked Felipe González, absent for health reasons, for his work on the Global Progress Commission.
In his contribution Abderrahman Youssoufi, prime minister of Morocco, leader of the Socialist Union of Popular Forces, USFP, and a vice-president of the SI, took up the theme of the worrying social conditions of a continent which included in Sub-Saharan Africa 33 of the 50 poorest countries, according to OECD calculations, and where 6 million people were refugees, two-thirds of the world total, according to UN High Commission for Refugees.
At the same time he emphasised, as Chissano had already set out, a refusal to sink into Afro-pessimism. What was needed was development, peace and democracy, none of which could be dissociated from the other two.
While the image of an Africa adrift and excluded from the world economy was not entirely false, the continent could not be reduced to wars, pandemics, coups d'etat and underdevelopment. "Behind the appearances was an Africa which lived and moved, full of vitality and dynamism".
Ousmane Tanor Dieng, first secretary of the Socialist Party of Senegal and co-chair of the SI Africa Committee said that the peace, democracy and development of Africa would be prejudiced if the present pattern of globalisation continued and the gains achieved in many fields could be reversed.
He warned of a recrudescence of ugly nationalisms and called on African countries to put into effect continent-wide measures to protect democracy and safeguard human rights. He declared that the continent could not justifiably expect foreign countries to tackle the problems of African society while Africans themselves were not taking a lead in doing so.
Elio di Rupo, leader of the Belgian Socialist Party, SP, declared that globalisation was not an end in itself but rather a tool for progress.
Turning to the Congo, he emphasised that Belgium was still closely linked to the country and closely observed events in it which were having their impact throughout Central Africa and perhaps beyond The Congolese knew that the source of their troubles was the wealth of the country which was used for the benefit of the few. Many in civil society were dismayed at recent developments. He suggested the International could start what he called a new form of diplomacy by helping to get opinion-formers in Congo to meet influential personalities committed to peace and thus be encouraged to seek reasonable and peaceful solutions to Congolese problems.
John Fru Ndi leader of the Social Democratic Front, SDF, of Cameroon, said that the international community looked helpless before the dictators who were helping to make lives of Africans miserable in a continent which had every sort of natural resource.
He criticised lenders who were urging countries to take on more loans in order to pay off old loans when, in an atmosphere of embezzlement, there was little evidence of the benefits which old loans had brought. He urged the international community to act against bad government before there was more bloodshed in Africa.
Mohammed Issoufou of Niger said that one-party non-democratic regimes were opposed to development. Democracy was as necessary to people as bread was. In international relations the progress of globalisation was a force for liberalism and not for socialism or social democracy and favoured the forces of international capital, the private sector and the payment of dividends. Sadly it went counter to the interests of the state. It was the state after all which had to rescue the US from the effects of the depression and the Continent of Europe after the Second World War.
He criticised the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for deepening Africa's economic crises.
Mogens Lykketoft of the Danish Social Democratic Party and the country's finance minister for the previous eight years pointed out that Africa was in a better economic position than it had been a decade previously and Denmark would help the continent. "I regret", he commented, "that we are without competition in the whole world when it comes to the share of GDP allocated for development assistance to the third world."
He said that steps had to be taken to avoid the world suffering a digital divide - a new invisible iron curtain - between those who take part in the IT revolution and those who remain stuck in old world economics. "This demands a generation of skillful Africans making life-long education one of Africa's future challenges", he commented. He ended by calling for greater efforts, particularly within UNESCO to abolish capital punishment.
Lisa Diogo, the Mozambican finance minister, said that Mozambique had set as it target the reduction of the percentage of the population in extreme poverty from 70 per cent today to 50 per cent over a ten-year period. She recalled that in the 1980s the country's development had been help back by foreign forces engaged in a war of destabilisation of Mozambique. The government was now setting out the best ways of collaborating with the private sector, non-governmental organisations and friendly foreign governments in the reduction of poverty particularly among the rural population and those regions of the country which had not benefitted properly from the progress Mozambique had made.
Marina d'Almeida Massoubodji, minister of health, social protection and women's affairs of Benin said that her country had no gold, diamonds or petroleum and was thus at peace. In the previous ten years Benin had taken giant steps forward. African women did not want a share of power of the sort which existed at the moment with its overtones of domination. They wanted a better sort.
Turning to the question of AIDS, she said it was more and more a woman's disease. In 1985 five men suffered from it for every two women, in 1990 it was five men for every five women whereas in 2000 for every two men with AIDS there were eight women suffering from it.
In her intervention Ann Linde, international secretary of the Swedish Social Democratic Party, SAP, declared "We do not forget the decisive contribution Mozambicans and other peoples colonised by Portugal have made to Europe. Your struggle here in Africa lead to the fall of dictatorship of the right and military rule in our continent of Europe". Aziz Pahad of the African National Congress of South Africa remarked how the International had advanced not just in Europe but also in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Referring to the uneven benefits from globalisation he wondered how it could be accepted the three richest billionaires in the world had more assets than the least developed countries with their 600 million people or that in 1997 there were more than 50 developing countries whose banking system had fewer assets than the credit union of the IMF and the World Bank. Such facts as these, he said, brought socialists together to challenge the new world order.
Numerous speakers congratulated Felipe Gonzalez, a vice-president of the SI and former prime minister of Spain for the work he and his collaborators had put into the Report on Global Progress which the International had commissioned him to produce.
In his absence the Report was adopted.
Presenting his Report the SI Secretary-General Luis Ayala commented, "We gather in Africa at a time when the challenges faced by this continent - political, economic, social and environmental - have never been greater. But rather than yield to the pessimism expressed in some quarters about the continent's future, we remain determined to find solutions, inspired by having already overcome, through sustained commitment, obstacles once thought by many to be insurmountable. The peaceful and democratic victory over apartheid in South Africa, for example, remains an extraordinary achievement and a testament to global solidarity that we were proud to acclaim at the last SI Council held in Africa, in Cape Town in 1995."
In a message to the Council Mikhail Gorbachev, the former leader of the USSR, now chair of the Russian United Social Democratic Party, said that globalisation does not solve the new problems and challenges that mankind faces on the threshold of the new millennium, adding, "It is social democrats who can bridge the gap which exist between policy and life... We hope that the return of Russian social democrats to the international social democratic movement will contribute to its strengthening and development."
In his message to the Council Nobel Peace Prize Winner President Kim Dae-Jung of South Korea emphasised the relaxation of tensions between North and South Korea after the end of the Cold War. He pledged support for further peace efforts.