GOVERNANCE IN A GLOBAL SOCIETY – THE SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC APPROACH
EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES AND PARTICIPATION FOR WOMEN AND MEN, POOR AND RICH, DEVELOPING, TRANSITIONAL AND DEVELOPED COUNTRIES
I The Social Democratic Approach to Governance in a Global Society
1. Under the conditions of globalisation, democratic governance has to be reinvented. The aim of the social democratic movement is to reconcile its historical values - social justice and democracy - with the new challenges, tasks, forms and instruments of politics that globalisation will bring about. A global governance concept has to be developed opposing the neo-liberal market ideology, the neo-conservative agenda, and the unilateralist approach. This alternative has to bind the dynamics of the global market to social, ecological, and democratic values. This requires citizens, women and men alike, their organisations, parties, parliaments and governments to act globally and in accordance with democratic principles.
2. Globalisation is calling into question very basic elements of the political and social order we are used to. The nation-state which for more than a century has been a central element of the political, social and economic order of more and more of the world’s societies, is losing strength and importance. New trans-national units, like global and regional organisations or trans-national corporations, and sub-national units, like increasingly autonomous sub-regions and municipalities are taking over parts of the state’s discretionary capacities. In many policy fields, domestic solutions alone are no longer sufficient or adequate and have to be replaced or accompanied by internationally coordinated political efforts.
3. Globalisation is a little like technological progress. In itself, politically or on an ethical level, it is neither good nor bad. Technological progress has allowed us to manufacture both increasingly devastating weapons and increasingly effective medicines and vaccines. The same is true of globalisation, which we may define as integration on a global scale of both commercial exchange and financial flows and of cultural contacts and information.
4. Globalisation is a source of wealth – firstly of economic wealth. More and more jobs across the world are dependent on international trade and/or have been created by trans-border investment. Thanks to economies of scale, wider markets lead to increased productivity and thus to more rapid growth in incomes and the standard of living.
5. Globalisation is also a source of cultural and social wealth thanks to the exchanges it generates. It leads to greater international openness, access to the cultures of other countries and learning about diversity. It may become a source of greater freedom by allowing all the world’s citizens to construct an identity beyond the strict confines of language, nation, religion or place of birth.
6. Globalisation opens up chances and opportunities, especially for those who have not profited from the economic order of the post-World War II era. Hitherto unincorporated areas are being integrated into global trade and new technological and productive centres are springing up all over the world. The end of the Cold War has brought about a worldwide improvement in the ideas of democracy and open society. Human rights and sustainability are increasingly accepted as central elements of political thinking. The "anarchic" order of the traditional international system, in which economic and military strength tended to be the only decisive power resources, is giving way to a more complex system of global governance, in which mutually binding agreements should replace the traditional "right of the strongest".
7. However, globalisation is also a source of new problems and threats of a global dimension: the increasing divide between rich and poor, environmental degradation, cultural conflicts and the global migration of women and men.
8. Globalisation is a source of huge imbalances, which is to the detriment of the least developed countries, in particular. It gives free rein to speculative movements of capital, which have brought recurrent financial crises to South East Asia, South America, Russia and Turkey, for instance. In the absence of fair regulation, the free flow of goods around the world brings greater risks of social, fiscal and environmental dumping, including the dumping of medicines even. On a political level, we have seen a rolling back of democratic controls. Instant communication leaves the conventional public authorities powerless, in the face of crimes committed on the Internet for example. The intensive exchange of information and images leads to a loss of cultural reference points, leaving a uniformity that threatens the identity and the creativity of whole countries.
9. In a nutshell, globalisation – ruled, as it is, by liberal financial logic – creates economic and cultural wealth, which is distributed in an unequal fashion. The major challenge posed by globalisation is, therefore, that of enabling democratic policy to be effective in the new global environment so that the benefits of globalisation may be shared equitably and be an opportunity for all.
10. Democratic global governance has to intervene if it wishes to come to grips with the effects of globalisation. Yet coping with globalisation is not only a question of international efforts and international institutions. It is not just a matter of global governance, but of state and local governance, too. There is a need for multi-level governance, which blends global instruments and strategies with those at the regional, state, sub-regional and local level.
11. This process poses a particular problem for the democratic left, for the social democratic and socialist parties of the Socialist International. For more than a century, the democratic state was the central instrument in attempts to build more equitable, participatory and democratic societies. This social democratic project found its apogee in the welfare state of Western European post-World War II societies. Globalisation and its underlying processes now threaten to undo part of the progress that has been achieved. Now a new triangle of principles characterising global social democracy has emerged. These are sustainable development, human rights – including their full and equal enjoyment by women and girls – and democracy. Each of these principles has three dimensions: sustainable development encompasses a sound environment, economic progress and social justice; human rights encompass individual security, cultural identity and social integration; democracy encompasses good governance, transparency and participation. This is the essence of the new social democratic project, that bases its strategy in a set of actions borne in a better governance and a substantial improvement in the education at universal scale.
II Sustainable Development
In the last quarter of the 20th century a worldwide awareness of the importance of protecting the global environment emerged. Issues of environmental, economic and social development took on equal significance. The SI fully supports the concept of sustainable development combining the ecological, economic and social dimensions of globalisation.
In the view of the SI, development implies material wealth, human dignity, human security, justice and equality. Under the chairmanship of the former SI President, Willy Brandt, the Independent Commission on International Development Issues agreed on this definition and recommended a full-scale restructuring of the global economy in accordance with its definition of development and an emergency programme to end poverty in the developing parts of the world.
20 years later, many of these recommendations still remain valid. The policies of the developed countries have not changed much. As a result there are high levels of poverty and increasing economic disparities.
The SI endorses the definition of sustainable development supplied by the former first Vice-President, Gro Harlem Brundtland, as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The three fundamental components of sustainable development are environmental protection, economic growth and social equity. The SI emphasises that if sustainable development is to be successful there will have to be a change in attitude on the part of both individuals and governments with regard to current lifestyles and the impact they have on the environment.
A global strategy for sustainable development has no prospect of success unless it balances the interests between developing and developed countries. Development and economic growth must be much less at the expense of natural resources, in particular the non renewable, and the environment than in the 20th century. Growth and progress should now be inexorably linked with natural balance and sustainability.
The 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio set the stage for a new global agenda, the Agenda 21, focusing on various aspects of global sustainability. The World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg 2002 contributed to the implementation of the Agenda 21. But its results are far from what the SI is aiming for. It has clearly shown the limits of the current institutional framework in getting a new global deal under way. There is a striking contrast between the problems the world faces and its system of governance.
Hence there is a need to establish a new United Nations Security Council on Economic, Social and Environmental issues – a Council for Sustainable Development – for the purposes of global co-ordination.
1. Sound Environment Policy
A sound environment is the indispensable basis for economic development and the enhancement of welfare and the quality of life in all parts of the world.
The 1992 UN Summit in Rio increased global awareness of the importance of global environmental policy, but the promising signals sent out from Rio failed to materialise. The global environmental problems have got even worse.
The developed countries are called upon to change their patterns of consumption and production, but developing countries have a responsibility of their own to bear, too.
Global environmental problems are caused by the growth in world population, the increasing consumption of goods and resources, short-term economic targets and the essential search for profit that leads to a dangerous waste of natural resources.
The outlines of a global environmental policy have emerged which begin with individual ecological media.
a) If the climate challenge is to be tackled successfully the world must rely on conservation, use less non-recyclable and more renewable energy. The huge potential to be tapped by increasing energy productivity is the core answer to the climate challenge.
b) Global warming is the greatest threat to the environment. Global efforts to combat global warming rest on the United Nations Framework on Climate Change. The Kyoto Agreement was reached as part of this Framework. Ratification of the Kyoto Protocol by all the players involved remains a central objective of the SI.
c) Environmental policy needs to focus on the consistent avoidance of waste and the development of a materials management system on a global level. As consumers and producers, carers for their families and educators, women play an important role in avoiding waste and promoting sustainable development.
d) Global environmental policy on the elimination of dangerous chemicals has concentrated up to now on chlorofluorocarbons and persistent organic pollutants. The Montreal Protocol has achieved a total stop in the production and use of ozone-damaging chemicals. It implements North-South priority.
Persistent organic pollutants are used as pesticides. A world chemical policy, stimulated by the Agenda 21, was brought about in 2001 in the Stockholm Agreement. Its essence is the prohibition of twelve particularly dangerous pollutants. Since new and potentially highly dangerous pollutants are constantly being developed, more effective steps are required as part of the Stockholm Agreement.
e) The complexity of biodiversity as a global object of protection entails a focus on several targets: stocktaking of biological diversity, conservation of particularly sensitive regions and benefit sharing in the exploitation of genetic resources.
f) Water is a fundamental good for everyone. Where water services exist, they must be closely controlled and regulated by public authorities. Every delegation to the private sector must be within a strict framework. The free use of water is essential for the establishment of peace between territories that are interdependent as regards natural resources.
g) Soil degradation and desertification are issues of international priority. The respective UN Convention includes among its main points the reduction of poverty and the active participation of civil society in combating desertification.
2. Economic Progress in a Global Economic Order
Globalisation has undermined the ability of states to steer their economies according to given aims, such as full employment, growth or redistributive taxation. Broader international cooperation and coordination are needed to reverse this tendency.
But the principles on which the welfare state is based have not changed. Its mechanisms – regulation, redistribution and public goods – have now become the basis for a global order involving the welfare-oriented protection of the poorest in a manner that is compatible with incentives for private initiative and economic growth, welfare-oriented distribution and global public goods.
There is a need to reform the international coordination of economic and financial policies, the rules of trade, the roles of the International Financial Organisations (IFIs) and International Organisations (IOs).
a) The present system of the World Trade Organisation remains inadequate and unsatisfactory. Large parts of the developing world are still economically marginalized and not integrated into world markets. The WTO has yet to produce an adequate response to this challenge.
Negotiations and procedures at the WTO must be made more transparent and opened up further to political dialogue and participation by all the relevant actors, including parliamentarians.
The working methods of the WTO, including the voting procedures, should be seriously reviewed in order to facilitate the negotiation of agreements.
The current round of negotiations should be a Development Round. The ministerial meeting in Cancun ended in deadlock, but it was useful in that it identified the trade-offs and launched a new process of negotiations involving new organised actors, such as the G 21.
The SI stresses that there is no alternative to a fundamental reform of the agricultural market, including cotton. Long-term challenges for the WTO are to tackle concerns about the environment, core labour standards, the preservation of national cultures, rules regarding investment and gender-sensitiveness.
Within a coherent global mechanism there must be cooperation between the WTO, the IFIs and IOs, which are responsible for tackling environmental, social, labour and cultural issues.
b) The process of globalisation influences the financial markets. Shaping these markets in accordance with global sustainable development means reforming the Bretton Woods institutions and the regional banks as well as global taxation in order to fund global public goods and global development.
There is a need to reform the IMF and the World Bank, including a modification of the quota system so that developing countries are better represented, to adopt better regulations on speculative funds and to combat money laundering more effectively. The present basis of global economic policy is the so-called "Washington Consensus" of the G7 and the IFIs, whose strategy has been unable to resolve problems and bring about rapid sustainable development, as can be seen in many countries. The "Washington Consensus" should be rejected in favour of an approach which takes into account the objective state of a country’s economy, its level economic development, drivers of growth, external constraints on development and the social and employment circumstances of its people.
The transparency of the IMF’s decision-taking has to be increased - for member countries, parliaments, civil society, borrower countries and public opinion - and the Fund’s governance structures made more democratic.
The reforms of the World Bank should be deepened to include a rethinking of the fundamental development concept, a breaking free from neo-liberal market orthodoxy and an acceptance of the relevance of human development and sustainability.
The regional development banks should work more effectively to promote regional integration, because they are perceived as being closer to their regional clients than the IFIs.
c) There is a need for global financing of development and of global public goods. New global resources are needed to achieve these aims. A new International Financial Facility and some form of global taxation have to be introduced. The World Solidarity Fund recently adopted by the United Nations General Assembly should be supported.
Several types of global tax could be envisaged:
d) Work is essential to ensure human existence. An inclusive and equitable labour market is the filter through which wealth is redistributed and poverty can be tackled at the global level. Global development policy has to stay focussed on the impact of globalisation on labour markets. It is time to make sustainable and decent employment a central macroeconomic aim for the IFIs, to combine macroeconomic with structural policy and to link economic and social policies.
In almost all the countries of the world the participation of women in the labour market still remains below that of men. Barriers in law and tradition still impede women’s full economic progress. Rethinking employment policies and integrating the gender perspective is essential to address the negative gender implications of current patterns of work and employment. It is of the utmost importance to promote women’s economic rights and independence, to eliminate occupational segregation and discrimination, to ensure that international labour standards on equal pay and working rights apply equally to female and male workers, to encourage women’s business and enterprise and to promote the reconciliation of family and working life.
Over the next ten years about one billion young people will reach working age. But there is a fundamental divide in their skills and knowledge. A part of them belongs to the best educated generation ever, while others lack educational opportunities. A global employment strategy for the 21st century must focus on creating jobs that are both more viable and sustainable so that these young people will have decent employment and thus be fully integrated into society.
3. Social Justice
The world economy must be more social. Unregulated globalisation has had a high social cost in the past 20 years; global inequality between poor and rich countries has increased and is reaching historically unprecedented levels.
a) Development policies went out of fashion in the 1980s and 1990s. In 2000, the United Nations agreed on the Millennium Development Goals as an ambitious agenda for reducing poverty and improving lives. These goals are part of the SI’s approach to global governance.
b) The 2002 Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development put issues of development finance back on the agenda and the EU and the USA made commitments to increase their ODA. This is positive, but it is not enough.
c) Debts are the most important obstacles to development in a very large number of countries. The debt cancellation programme for Highly Indebted Poor Countries must be continued and reformed in conjunction with the conditions for improving good governance. A new debt workout mechanism should be set up.
d) Respecting development goals implies a flexible application of special treatment arrangements within the WTO. Regionalisation has to be promoted. Developed countries should reduce and ultimately eliminate protection and gradually lower the subsidising of key markets, particularly of agriculture. The ILO’s Labour Conventions have to be implemented by voluntary action, positive incentives and sanctions.
e) The social principles of a global economic system are sustainability and employment, which must be strengthened in global strategies. Alliances for more and better jobs must be forged.
The report of the ILO’s World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalisation can initiate a global policy focusing on the problems people face in their everyday lives.
f) Trans-national corporations, as the big winners of the era of globalisation, must be forced to assume their social and environmental responsibilities. They could be better controlled if international regulations in the field of global competition and consumer rights were introduced. TNCs are at the core of the taxation gap in present societies; due to deregulation policies, capital is avoiding taxation, thus putting the burden of state finances on consumption and labour. Joint international efforts are needed to reverse this trend.
II Human Rights
Human rights form part of the foundations of the international legal order. The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights lent enormous momentum to the international legal protection of such rights. Working to put into practice the principles of human rights remains a permanent task. The human rights of women throughout their life-cycle are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights.
The world community should put greater emphasis on the implementation of human rights agreements and on ensuring that all states ratify the core body of human rights agreements. States have an obligation to support each other in ensuring observance of human rights; this requires that help be given to developing countries.
The sovereignty of states is beyond dispute, but consideration must also be given to the sovereignty of individuals, which is violated by state terrorism. In such instances there is a case for intervention on humanitarian grounds within a multilateral framework.
The role of human rights includes empowering communities. Protecting their rights must be considered a contribution to preventing conflicts resulting from poverty, discrimination and exclusion.
Poverty deprives millions of their fundamental rights.
Ensuring human rights is a task for states and for civil society. Support should be given to committees charged with the implementation of human rights agreements.
For the vast majority of people around the world security is not a question of inter-state relations; it tends to have a more individual character. Most people see security as being protection from harm, either from violent human beings, famine or drought. The fight against violence inflicted on individuals is the foundation of human security.
In 1994, UNDP introduced the concept of human security as a fusion of policy concerns related to trans-national and domestic security, political and economic development and the environment.
a) There is a growing feeling of insecurity as different parts of the world witness violent crime, organised criminality, terrorism, human trafficking and drug trafficking. More and more people are living in social environments where physical integrity is less and less secure. People react by organising self-help.
Corruption is one of the most important global and trans-border problems.
Social democratic political forces underestimated the importance of the issue of human security. They are ready to pay closer attention to it.
b) The world is aware of the existence of failing states, where private actors and warlords tend to impose their own law and to use force, threatening people’s security. Their activities are based on the material resources of the territories they hold as well as on drugs and diamonds. The conflicts are fed by the illegal trade in small arms and light weapons and a vast number of landmines.
Poor people tend to become the main victims of state failure.
c) The events of 11 September 2001 provided a reminder of the urgent need to return to the shared basic values of all our civilisations and to rethink social models. In many situations irrationality is triumphing over the values of enlightenment. Racism, xenophobia, chauvinism and religious fundamentalism, in the form of violent ideologies, are becoming major threats to peace and democracy.
There are no excuses for terrorism. It must be condemned. Terrorism cannot be justified by poverty or by regional or religious conflict. The instruments to fight against terrorism should be improved in a multilateral framework.
If terrorism merely inspires the USA to display its military might, the future looks very bleak. It would be tragic if combating terrorism were to become a crusade against Islam. Terror cannot be used to fight terrorism. Global security depends on a new commitment to stand beside the peoples of the world and on extending the concept of human rights to each and every one of them. It must not be forgotten that justice and social cohesion are factors of peace and stability on the local, state and global level. They make it more difficult for terrorist organisations to find revolted and desperate recruits. That will also be the case if double political and moral standards in modern states of Europe, North America and Australia are overcome.
d) There is no simple answer to the issue of personal insecurity. What is needed is a set of instruments relating to crime prevention and the build-up of social, economic and political structures, including food security and working health and education systems.
The central element is prevention.
An integrated plan of crime prevention is needed, running from the local to the international or global level, including a set of measures. Application of these measures requires money and the appropriate political will.
In some of the developing countries, especially in Africa, the reconstruction of statehood and regional integration are key aspects of a policy aimed at reducing the high levels of violence. For that a concept of structural stability is needed, with international efforts to stop the disintegration of states.
2. Cultural Identity
Cultural identity is a human right. Cultural differences must be recognised. The world is witnessing the evolution of patchwork societies, in which common national identities are losing their significance and a growing variety of cultural and social groups coexist. This coexistence is not always peaceful. Poorer countries, in particular, are facing a growing number of conflicts inside their borders. The global community of states has to accept that all societies can be multicultural. No state can impose only one particular culture, language or faith on its population.
a) Many conflicts afflicting the world in recent years were partly religious conflicts, representing a search for identity. However, it should be borne in mind that nearly all conflicts have their origins in a struggle to assert economic interests.
Various kinds of fundamentalism have flourished around the world. This return of fundamentalism can be accompanied by political militancy. Countries that have remained under the boot of authoritarian regimes have become breeding grounds for fundamentalists. The answer to fundamentalism given by social democrats is persistent assertion of the values of human dignity, freedom, social justice, solidarity and gender equality, of the values of tolerance, the coexistence of religions and dialogue between them and of the ideas of the enlightenment.
The very communications technology that has made the global village possible has at the same time stimulated an increased awareness of cultural differences. Societies should cultivate their distinct cultural characteristics and use them for the resolution of social and political problems.
But the human right to cultural identity and global democracy are interdependent. Democracy respects diversity and in doing so it assumes the reciprocity of this respect. Different cultures have different types of democracy, but they adhere to the same principles. No culture is incapable of democracy, as the defeat of fascism in World War II and the failure of communism at the end of the 20th century in Europe show. The same principle applies to all states in which totalitarian, authoritarian or undemocratic regimes are in power at present.
b) Trans-border and domestic migration has reached a historically unique level. This is mainly caused by demographic and economic factors. In addition there are ecological and war refugees. Migration takes place from the less developed to the more developed countries, from the rural areas into the towns and cities. More and more women are involved in domestic and trans-border migration. Female migrants are especially vulnerable because of their gender.
The permanent influx of labour has a significant influence on the labour market in the receiver countries, especially in the developed countries. The effects differ depending on market regulation. If the labour markets are more flexible, immigration tends to have a lowering effect on wages. If they are more inflexible, they tend to increase unemployment.
c) A global cohesion policy is the answer to the threats of intercultural conflicts and migration.
3. Social Integration through Education
Education is the key to sustainable development, democracy and peace within and among countries, and thus an indispensable means for effective social integration and participation in the societies and economies of the twenty-first century. Education is the most important tool for achieving freedom, progress and social justice. Education is a human right.
All Children, boys and girls alike, should have access to full primary education. The international community must step up its efforts to achieve that aim by 2015.
Primary education is the first step; post primary education systems in developing countries must be strengthened and gender disparities in primary and post primary education eliminated. A knowledge-based development strategy is needed to establish knowledge as a key element of global progress.
a) After the end of the Cold War a more intractable division of the world took hold, based on the creation of technology. There is a technological divide aggravated by the development of new key technologies. Developing countries and old industrial regions are losing out in the digital race. At the same time the digital divide is cutting across old boundaries. China and other Asian regions will soon have more Internet users than the USA. In conclusion, a technological revolution is changing the world’s economic and social landscape.
b) The digital divide is also taking hold inside societies and states. New exclusions are being created; the gender and generation gap are further dimensions.
The shift from resource-based towards knowledge-based production and value creation implies that renewed attention must be paid to the human factor. But many of the developing countries are not able to spend the same percentage of their GDP on education as the developed ones.
Among the problems to be tackled are insufficient investment in the development of human resources, illiteracy, inadequate teacher training and obsolete primary education. This is an obligation on every single state and the international community. Education must be seen globally as a process of social integration, which provides elements of social and cultural identity.
c) States must play an active role in building bridges over the digital gap. The USA and the EU have taken effective action in this respect.
In the age of new information and communications technologies public education is becoming indispensable. Public funding is absolutely necessary for basic education and for facilitating access to information technologies.
d) Generally politics has to put more emphasis on education, apprenticeship and training. That is obvious in the developed countries, but critical in most of the developing ones. There are several avenues that can be explored to help the technologically disconnected countries. International cooperation has to be rethought, the General Service Agreement within the WTO framework has an impact on education, and private financing of education could be useful; Public Services are to be specifically excluded and GATS cannot force countries to privatise services against their will. The access to education for all should be guaranteed.
The UN Information and Communication Technology Task Force and the G8 Digital Opportunity Task Force, based on the Okinawa Charter on Global Information Technology adopted in 2000 are instruments of global efforts. The UN World Summit on the Information Society 2003 should provide a further breakthrough to close the digital gap.
The time has come to set up efficient democratic structures of global governance. There are still obstacles to democratic decision making in global policy.
Governance which will meet the challenges of globalisation must be good, i.e. effective, democratic and subject to the rule of law, at the state level as well as at the global, regional, sub-regional and local level. A new global order is at stake. The SI needs to build global alliances to make this order multilateral, multipolar and multilevel, not unilateral and unipolar.
On the state level the executive tends to dominate in international and global affairs and there is a lack of participation by parliamentarians and democratic parties.
The position and influence of the different states in global development is extremely unequal.
The economic and financial strength of trans-national corporations is a growing political factor; they largely outweigh the position of state governments.
There is a need to establish a global political structure that is both efficient and democratic and thus the best for all citizens of the world. The basis for all efforts towards achieving global democracy should be the UN Millennium Declaration, in which the heads of state and government agreed with respect to human rights, democracy and global governance that they would spare no effort to promote democracy, strengthen the rule of law and secure respect for all internationally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development.
b) Globalisation means that the areas of ecological, economic, social, cultural, political and interpersonal interaction tend to exceed to an ever greater extent the limits of single states or regions. At the same time, there is in many parts of the world a process that can be termed "fragmegration" – a combination of fragmentation into smaller units and integration into larger global or continental entities or spheres of interaction. The institutional arrangements needed to respond to these trends operate at four levels: global, regional, sub-regional and local.
What appears to be at stake is the capacity to build a multilevel system of governance designed to:
weakest level in the light of the problems it should address.
The transparency of democratic decisions and processes is a prerequisite for democracy. The higher the level of decisions, the more demanding and more necessary this prerequisite is. There is a new need for transparency on the global level.
Citizens can support the cause of transparency by endeavouring to obtain information as individuals and as groups in civil society.
Transparency also requires free and independent media.
a) Civil society organisations play a crucial role in increasing the transparency of global decision-making processes. Formal and comprehensive mechanisms of civil society participation and of access to information have to be established in all international organisations, including the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank.
b) Freedom of the press and freedom of expression are essential for the defence and development of democracy. They contribute to the establishment of transparency, counteract authoritarian trends and correct excesses, negligence and management errors within states. The media gather information and shape it. This mediation function between governance at all levels and societies is a highly responsible one.
Democracy is currently experiencing a crisis of growth and adaptation to the new contemporary world realities. The causes of this crisis are:
The mass media have an immense responsibility and an essential role to play in respect of all these three causes.
Democracy with a market economy and private property made it possible for free media to become a real power. Consequently it is indispensable that the media should behave in a transparent and accountable way. There is a need to recognise the fact that the activity of the press is in the public interest and must, therefore, be carried out in accordance with professional norms, deontological standards and within a legal democratic framework.
a) The participation of civil society in global governance expanded dramatically during the past decade. Thanks to their high level of commitment and their expertise, trade unions and other social partners, on the one hand, and NGOs, on the other, were able to play a key role in the cycle of world conferences.
Therefore, no restrictions must be placed on the consultative status of NGOs at the UN that is currently under review by the UN Secretary-General’s Panel of Eminent Persons on United Nations Relations with Civil Society. Instead, formal consultative relations between non-profit NGOs and the UN need to be strengthened and expanded to all institutions of the UN system, including the UN General Assembly and all its specialized agencies.
However, NGOs shouldn’t be overburdened by excessive expectations. They influence global decision-making by dint of their experience, analysis and advocacy, but they are not the political decision-makers, as democratically elected parliaments and governments are. Civil society participation must be complementary to, not a substitute for, the role of parliaments. Participatory democracy goes hand in hand with representative democracy, and should include both the political and the social experience. People cannot be citizens in the political life and servants in the economic life.
States and global institutions alone cannot finance the development needs of the developing countries. More intensive cooperation with the private sector is needed to induce private investment. Global corporations have responsibilities as formulated in the UN Global Compact. However, public-private partnerships that include trans-national corporations, business associations or private foundations of wealthy individuals in their decision-making bodies can cause problems, since they allow representatives of private business interests to take part in political decisions about public policies and the expenditure of public funds.
b) The development of democracy in the last two centuries was determined by the development of political parties. Competition between parties allows citizens a choice between political alternatives that accumulate different values, theories and projects.
Parties are mediators between society and governments. They fulfil the function of political integration.
Parties have been misused in totalitarian and authoritarian political systems, particularly by communism and fascism. One-party systems evolved which are the fundamental opposite of the self-concept of democratic parties that are in electoral competition with others.
It is in democratic Europe, above all, that the basic alternative between parties of the democratic left and the democratic right developed. The concepts of left and right have determined the basic structure of democratic institutions from the beginning. This applied first to the parliament elected after the French Revolution and still applies to parliaments in most democracies, to parties and also to groups close to politics.
The global political positions of the parties in the USA show that parties are already active and necessary not only on a national level but also on a global and regional level.
The parties of the democratic left have joined together on a world level; the Socialist International has been in existence since 1951. Initially, it was a union of primarily European parties. In the 1970s and 1980s, SI chairman, Willy Brandt, inspired the admission of parties in Latin America, Africa, the Arab states and Asia. The SI thus became a global organisation of left-wing democratic parties with very different democratic cultures caused by their history and geopolitical situation.
The parties of the democratic right have also joined forces. The International Democratic Union has existed since 1983.
Globalisation demands that the large global party communities intensify their work and increasingly promote conceptual and strategic communities of interest. They can then consider themselves democratic alternatives on a global level – just as their member parties provide those alternatives at the state level.
c) Democratic parties are involved in political decisions through their participation in elections and through the work of their representatives in parliament. Parliaments elect and monitor governments. This applies at state level and it must also apply at global level.
The Socialist International firmly believes that free and fair elections must be the fundamental source of legitimacy for parliamentarians. However, for both elected and appointed parliamentary entities, openness, transparency and accountability are crucial conditions for a real democratic exercise able to keep the people involved in the decision-making process.
Democratically elected parliaments and governments are the only actors that are legitimised to set global rules and standards and to take global decisions. They are accountable to their electorate and should not be allowed to privatise their duties by shifting global responsibilities to NGOs and other private actors.
The goal of the SI must be to parliamentarise the global political system – with the representation of political parties that offer alternative global political values, theories and projects.
Better structured democratic control and accountability are needed if the world’s democratic deficit is to be seriously addressed. At some point, contemplation of a UN Parliamentary Assembly will be needed. Such a development should be supported by the gradual emergence of truly global citizenship, underpinned by rights drawn from the 1948 Declaration on Human Rights and the 1966 Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic and Social Rights.
Such an assembly should be more than just another UN institution. It would need to become a building block of a new, democratically legitimate world order. Recent developments and trends are opening up the path towards an assembly of this kind, which is far from being utopian. The Inter-Parliamentary Union was established more than a century ago. Now, a WTO Parliamentary Assembly is being set up. The UN is already organising a Parliamentary Forum in the context of major international conferences.
Every effort needs to be made by the large party communities to attain the goal of a UN Parliamentary Assembly and they need to strengthen their cooperation in the process. The principal starting point could be in the assemblies of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).
The large party communities will also need to seek links with parties that do not belong to one of them. That is necessary in particular in highly populated countries such as China, India, Indonesia, the United States and Russia. It will be even harder to represent the global political and democratic alternatives in a potential UN parliamentary assembly without the involvement of parliamentarians from these states.
V Sustainable Development, Human Rights and Democracy need Peace; Peace needs Sustainable Development, Human Rights and Democracy – A New Coalition for a New World Order
The former President of the SI, Willy Brandt, formulated the major challenge for international and global policy as follows: peace is not everything, but everything else is nothing without peace. Our concept of a world in which there is sustainable development, human rights and democracy, therefore, assumes the existence of peace. But peace can only be preserved if sustainable development, human rights and democracy gradually become a fact of life in all the countries and regions of the world.
Security is a part of human rights and includes measures against criminal and terrorist violence. They are a part of global human rights policy. External security, the prevention of a war between states, also remains an ongoing task for the international community.
The Socialist International - in accordance with the UN Millennium Declaration – is determined to establish a just and lasting peace all over the world in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. The SI rededicates itself to supporting all efforts to uphold the sovereign equality of all states, respect for their territorial integrity and political independence, resolution of disputes by peaceful means and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, the right to self-determination of peoples which remain under colonial domination and foreign occupation, non-interference in the internal affairs of states, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for the equal rights of all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion and international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character.
The SI will spare no effort to free peoples from the scourge of war, whether within or between States. The SI will also seek to eliminate the dangers posed by weapons of mass destruction.
The SI therefore resolves to: