General Congress Resolution
XXI Congress of the Socialist International, Paris, 8-10 November 1999
The XXI Congress of the Socialist International, meeting in Paris 8-10 November 1999, is dedicated to addressing the challenges of global change, to ensuring that as we move into the next century it is toward a more humane society, a world more fair and just.
The pace of change - economic, technological and social - continues to accelerate and the process offers numerous potential benefits. It is the commitment of the members of our International to shape change, to give it direction so that all the people of the world can share in the promise of a better future.
Critical to the task is remaining true to the fundamental principles that have always united and guided us, as we now adapt them to the new realities of today and tomorrow.
Our commitment to liberty, social justice and solidarity, which placed the Socialist International at the forefront in the triumph of the democratic idea as symbolised by the fall of the Berlin Wall, continues to deepen throughout the world, as is evident in the sections of the Congress Resolution that follow.
The Socialist International welcomes a market economy, but we recognise that the market is not a value in and of itself. Rather, we understand the market as an instrument of service to society, whose potential can best be realised for the greatest numbers when citizens themselves, acting freely through democratic political and civic institutions, are in charge of harnessing its enormous strengths.
The Socialist International therefore gives the highest priority to the nurturing of human capital, our most precious resource, with particular emphasis on education and health care. We further believe that the development and realisation of humanity's potential can be based only on full equality for women and their unimpeded integration into society everywhere.
For the Socialist International, globalisation is therefore not simply about the expanded trade in goods and services, but is a phenomenon that underlines the common destiny of mankind and therefore calls for ever greater solidarity internationally, within nations and among citizens everywhere. Our solidarity, in turn, is further strengthened by our respect for and embrace of diversity in the knowledge that it enriches our common identity as democratic socialists.
This Congress of the Socialist International represents not only a renewal of our long-held beliefs, but a reaffirmation of our commitment to finding the best ways to apply them to the realities of today. Democratic socialists, with member parties now in nearly every country on every continent, therefore remain confident and are now doubly determined in our approach to the global challenges we face.
The Socialist International,
Aware of how important democracy is for the socio-economic and cultural development of the peoples of the African continent,
Aware that the participation of all sectors of society contributes strategies for good governance,
Having reflected on the need to adopt policies which ensure good governance in order to achieve stability nationally, regionally and throughout the African continent,
Aware of the need for tolerance, freedom of association, information, expression, of all citizens and of civil society as a whole,
Convinced that democracy must reflect the collective will of citizens expressed by means of an informed and voluntary vote which legitimates it,
Aware that to ensure the stability of the continent, African leaders must accept the principle of democratic alternation of power,
Considering the diversity in Africa and the specific situations which exist in each country of the region, the Socialist Internationalreassert their willingness to strengthen democracy everywhere, because maintaining democracy is the only way to ensure economic and social development with respect for individual and collective human rights,
Convinced that democracy must be supported by dialogue and tolerance to be an irreversible process, and that SI members in the region must develop the practice of democracy within their own parties and disseminate it throughout society,
The Socialist International:
Reaffirms its commitment to collective solidarity so that it can contribute as a whole to the democratisation of Africa, and
Encourages the member parties of the Socialist International, both in Africa and elsewhere in the world, to adopt policies aimed at alleviating the problems of their peoples so that they may develop their potential in a peaceful environment and in which institutions work properly.
Having examined the current situation of the African continent in detail, particularly with regard to the armed conflicts which are taking place, the Socialist International expresses its deep concern, underlining that the absence of peace violates the most fundamental human rights in the African continent.
The Socialist International expresses its solidarity with all the peoples of Africa who are currently denied the opportunity to live in peace. It condemns any violation of decisions taken by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the United Nations, and the Southern African Development Coordination Community (SADC) as regards the conflict in Angola by Jonas Savimbi and his followers.
In this case and in that of the Great Lakes, serious dialogue between the parties is the only way to overcome the crisis.
The international community must assume its responsibility to promote and safeguard a culture of peace.
The Socialist International strongly condemns all those who directly or indirectly contribute to perpetuating war in the continent. In the knowledge that only dialogue and tolerance can lead to the peace which the African continent so deeply desires, the Socialist International is ready to cooperate in any way which may be necessary to achieve the consensus needed.
Finally, the Socialist International appeals to all its members to promote concrete actions and events which will contribute to promoting a culture of peace and integration among their peoples. In the meantime, it undertakes to continue its initiatives to prevent conflicts, in support of its members who are currently suffering the consequences, and to consider sending missions aimed at contributing to the peaceful resolution of these conflicts.
Development and Globalisation
The Socialist International is aware of the constraints that hinder development in Africa and notes that globalisation is an irreversible and unavoidable process which we must all be prepared for.
Widespread and ruthless competition between multinationals to dominate the economic markets of the world affects the development of Africa, which continues to remain on the sidelines.
African governments need to acquire the skills to keep up with the pace of development and the advent of globalisation.
Therefore, the Socialist International recommends that:
1. Objective conditions should be created for contracts to be drawn up between governments and influential social groups who can contribute decisively to the development of their countries.
2. Quality services should be promoted in the areas of healthcare and education to prevent AIDS and protect the human resources of the countries in the region.
3. Internal and external capital investments should be promoted in order to stimulate national entrepreneurship and the private sector.
4. Internal production capacity should be created and stimulus provided for the formation of a middle class which is capable of ensuring sustainable development.
5. The parties of the Socialist International should prioritise the adoption of policies to combat poverty and destitution.
6. African countries should make efforts to equip and utilise regional and sub-regional economic, social and cultural organisations with a view to ensuring their more active and dynamic integration.
7. African countries should work together to achieve the cancellation of foreign debt, which is the main factor restricting their economic and social development.
The Socialist International is aware that the future of Africa will require investment in agriculture, which is the main source of wealth for most African countries, and in other resources, leading to a level of industrialisation which will allow them to process their products and set fairer prices for their goods in international markets.
With regard to Niger, the Socialist International,
Noting with satisfaction the gains made by democratic socialism in Africa generally
Expresses its support for the continued success of the Party of Democracy and Socialism in Niger, PNDS, in the current and ongoing electoral process which will culminate in a second round of voting on 24 November 1999.
With regard to Guinea, the Socialist International,
Welcoming the Guinean People's Assembly, RPG, as a consultative member of the International
Reaffirms its call to free from incarceration RPG leader Alpha Condé in order to establish a climate of political concord in the country.
With regard to Equatorial Guinea, the Socialist International,
Expresses its profound concern about the persistent violation of political liberties and human rights, the blocking of the process of democratisation, and the impunity with which these acts are carried out by the regime of President Obiang.
Expresses its support and solidarity with the Convergence for Social Democracy, CPDS, a full member of the International, and the other democratic forces struggling for democratisation in the country in opposition to the violence of the current regime.
With regard to Togo, the Socialist International,
Welcomes the Democratic Convention of African Peoples, CDPA, as consultative members of the Socialist International, and
Expresses its full solidarity with the CDPA in its efforts towards a successful outcome to the internal dialogue underway in that country.
With regard to Western Sahara, the Socialist International,
Reaffirms its resolution on Western Sahara adopted at the SI Council in Geneva in 1998, considering the efforts aimed at finding a just, peaceful and lasting solution to the Western Sahara conflict.
Declares its agreement with the United Nations on the organisation of a free, fair and transparent referendum on self-determination in accordance with the terms of the peace plan and the Houston Agreement.
Calls upon all parties involved and particularly Morocco and Polisario to fully cooperate with MINURSO for the holding of a free, fair, transparent and democratic referendum in Western Sahara.
ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
Priorities and Perspectives for Social Democracy
The Socialist International,
at the heart of the hopes and expectations of the people of the whole region are the establishment and strengthening of democracy and the defence of human rights, justice and freedom;
- it is urgent to address the issue of globalisation, the need to limit its negative aspects and improve its positive effects so that it does not further deepen inequalities in and between our societies; to contribute to the global betterment of economic and social well-being, and to preserve the environment;
- the world must not be permanently divided into globalisation winners and losers;
- the poorest sectors of Asian societies, who benefited least from the so-called 'boom' years, are suffering most from the 'bust' ;
- the Asian economic crisis highlighted the need to address the inequities of the international financial system, where everyday about one trillion dollars move across the foreign exchanges, and to discourage speculative capital flows ;
- the Asian financial crisis has finally exposed the extreme vulnerability of economies subjected to cronyism, corruption and nepotism, which are standard practices in authoritarian and dictatorial regimes ;
- that so-called Asian values should not be used as a justification for authoritarianism ;
- the immediate challenge for social democracy in the Asia-Pacific region is the empowerment of social democratic forces in the region to collectively become the primary political force in regional affairs and in international relations; and
- the social democrats in the region need to work together in ending the remaining vestiges of authoritarianism and dictatorships in this part of the world.
- our commitment is to make the next century the century for social democracy in Asia and the Pacific in response to the aspirations of the people in the region for democracy, human rights and justice;
- the ideals of social democracy are pursued with the full participation of women in the social, cultural, economic and political spheres and by addressing specific issues, needs and concerns of women;
- the democratisation process which has led to the establishment of democracy in South Korea, Taiwan, Mongolia, the Philippines, Nepal and many other countries in the Asia-Pacific region;
- the increasing demand and struggle towards democratisation in Malaysia, Indonesia and Burma;
- the initiatives of Filipino social democrats to preserve, protect and further the democratic gains in that country;
- the reestablishment of stability and peace in Cambodia, and
- respect for human rights throughout the entire region.
- calls for the peaceful negotiations and settlement of disputes
- between India and Pakistan over their borders in Kashmir;
- between the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China over the Spratly islands; and
- between North and South Korea.
considers that the new security arrangements in the region such as the new defence guidelines between the United States and Japan, and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) in the Philippines, highlight the need for the development and establishment of new common security policies in the region.
Regarding Malaysia, the Socialist International,
states its concern about the political situation in Malaysia as manifested by among other things, the flawed implementation of the separation of powers of the Legislative, the Executive and the Judiciary ;
deplores the only recently ended incarceration of Lim Guan Eng who is still deprived of his status as an elected Member of Parliament and Deputy Secretary General of the Democratic Action Party (DAP) of Malaysia, a party which plays an active part in furthering social democracy and is a member of the Socialist International ;
condemns the promulgation in Malaysia of all draconian laws such as the Internal Security Act ;
is aware that the former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was injured during detention and that the charges against him were amended, which inconsistent with the practice of justice ;
takes note of the groundswell of disaffection and discontent especially among the Malaysian youth ;
is alarmed about the ominous warning of the Prime Minister that the forthcoming general elections will be the 'dirtiest' in the history of the country ;
appeals to His Majesty the King of Malaysia to pardon Lim Guan Eng so that his status as an elected Member of Parliament and all of his political rights are restored ;
calls on the Government of Malaysia to :
- uphold the rule of law and to make sure that Anwar has a fair trial ;
- repeal all draconian laws ;
- ensure true independence and separation of powers between the Legislative, Executive and Judiciary ;
- ensure that the forthcoming general elections are clean, fair and democratic, and
- allow international observers during the elections.
Regarding Bhutan, the Socialist International is concerned
- by the continuing lack of progress in the democratisation process in Bhutan ; and
- by the expulsion of large numbers of its citizens and legally settled inhabitants from its territory which has forced families, particularly of Nepalese origin, to leave behind their ancestral homes, lands and properties and suffer the indignity of living under very difficult conditions as refugees in Nepal and some parts of India.
The Socialist International therefore urges
- His Majesty the King and the Government of Bhutan to view this situation as a serious humanitarian problem for which the international community feels legitimate concern ; and
- that appropriate steps be initiated to allow the evicted families to return to their respective homes.
Regarding Burma, the Socialist International,
urges all SI member parties to fully recognise and staunchly support the Committee Representing the People's Parliament (CRPP), formed by the absolute majority of the elected members of parliament through free and fair elections in 1990, in which the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi won a landslide victory ;
strongly urges the junta to hand over power to the NLD and the representatives elected by the people of Burma who have the validity and legitimacy to govern the country ;
strongly condemns the sweeping and continuous human rights violations committed by the military government and supports the UN Human Rights Commission resolutions, which catalogued a long list of such violations by the junta in the year of the 50th Anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights ;
demands the cessation of these violations starting with the release of at least 150 detained members of parliament and all other political prisoners;
demands an end to the genocidal war being waged against the non-Burmese ethnic peoples especially in the Karen, Karenni, Shan and Chin states ;
calls on the ASEAN member countries to put strong pressure on the military junta to hold substantial political dialogue with the NLD and the non-Burmese ethnic nationalities in order to resolve the long-standing conflicts in the country and reach acceptable and peaceful solutions to the suffering of the people of Burma ;
reaffirms the Socialist International's unswerving encouragement and support for Burma's democratic movement in general, and the NLD and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in particular.
Regarding Indonesia and East Timor, the Socialist International,
- welcomes the continuation of the transition to democracy in Indonesia and notably the election of Abdurrahman Wahid and Megawati Sukarnoputri to the highest offices of State. It hopes that the new government will be able to meet the aspirations of the inhabitants of all the islands of the archipelago for peaceful coexistence and respect for human rights ;
- urges the new government in Indonesia to continue the transition to independence in East Timor ;
- notes that the government has accepted the vote for independence expressed by the people of East Timor ;
- deplores the loss of many lives in East Timor ;
- welcomes the clear statement by the United Nations' Assistance Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) that Indonesian military and police support for militias was in violation of the agreements signed by Indonesia in May 1999 ;
- notes that the TNI (Indonesian Armed Forces) has been withdrawn from East Timor but that some armed militias remain;
- notes that many refugees remain unaccounted for ;
- demands that all steps be taken to ensure the safe and immediate repatriation of all the refugees ;
- affirms the absolute right of the people of East Timor to safety and security ;
- calls on the international community to fully participate in the rebuilding of the country.
Regarding Pakistan, the Socialist International,
notes that for many years the situation has been of concern to those in favour of peace and stability in Asia, and that once again a period of uncertainty has come over the country;
calls for the reestablishment of democracy as soon as possible and for free elections to be held allowing for a constitutionally elected government to address the basic problems of Pakistani society and establish the basis for peaceful relations with all Pakistan's neighbours.
Regarding Afghanistan, the Socialist International,
Recognising with dismay
a) that the bloody civil war, whose principal victims are the civilian population, continues in Afghanistan;
b) that in defiance of the concerns expressed by the international community;
- the situation regarding human rights and in particular the rights of women are becoming worse,
- the killing and persecution of religious and ethnic minorities are spreading,
- the forced evacuation of the civilian population, the separation of men from their families, the burning of cultural resources and the destruction of dwellings by the Taliban are increasing.
c) that the continuation of war in this country and its corollaries terrorism, fanaticism and narcotics constitute a growing threat to peace and international and regional stability;
calls for the end of all foreign interference in Afghanistan and in particular the supply of arms and the sending of foreign combatants to the country;
condemns the recent Taliban offenses which violate the Tashkent Declaration adopted on 19 July 1999 by the 'Six plus two' group;
demands of the parties in conflict and particularly the Taliban that they immediately stop fighting and return to the negotiating table;
supports the efforts of the special UN mission in Afghanistan as well as the calls by the UN General Assembly and the Security Council for a negotiated political settlement of the Afghanistan conflict, and
calls on the international community, as winter approaches, to come to the aid of civilian populations so as to relieve one of today's worst humanitarian crises.
This year, the European Union has gone through a decisive phase with the establishment of the single currency, but is it now ready to take on the political aspect of this undertaking? Can the social democrats take the lead? The socialist and social democratic parties who today are in a preponderant position in Europe, state that they will work for an European social model and they declare their will to promote the progress of a political Europe.
The social democratic model relies on the balance between the State and the market. Transposed to a European level this means that a choice must be made between maintaining and developing common voluntarist policies on the one hand or limiting it to the largest free market zone in the world on the other. Voluntarist policies have always been a part of the ambition of the European socialists. With our institutional abilities today, it is possible to create a new system of economic and social structure to serve growth and employment.
This requires instruments of distribution, which will balance regional and social inequalities in accordance with the new political, and institutional methods, which are more, adjusted to the demand of democracy. We are watching the decline of a community system where a competent elite devoted to the common interest assisted in the construction of Europe without the knowledge of the people. Henceforth, the European Parliament claims for full responsibility in the decision process, and the people want to be told what Brussels has in store for them.
But Europe is not a continent isolated from the rest of the world. The Central European countries have already initiated negotiations on the enlargement. Moreover, after Kosovo, we are now called upon to put in place the instruments of common foreign and security policy provided for in the Treaty of Amsterdam. The European Council in Cologne has opened the way to provide the Union with independent military capacity (based on contributions by those member States choosing to participate) which can operate beyond European Union territory, supporting common diplomatic action and, if necessary, without the participation of the USA.
What has been achieved in a few months, at the initiative of our governments, is considerable, since these provisions open the way to stronger political union in Europe. We perfectly know that in this matter the positions of the different countries are based on their respective histories, traditions and interest of national government rather than their membership to the Socialist International. But perhaps it is possible without breaking away from their legitimate heritage to forcefully and credibly affirm our common will to build an open and political Europe where the values of peace and democracy, which have brought us together here, will prevail.
CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE
1. Ten years have passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall. A historic point of transition for the whole of Europe and for those peoples now irreversibly freed from the oppression of Communist regimes.
Democracy and the principles of the rule of Law are now seen as irrevocable tenets in the consciousness of the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe, while communism is considered to be absolutely incompatible with freedom.
Throughout these countries major progress has been made at all levels, although sometimes a high social price has been paid, and today those men and women who for years were forced to live grey and oppressed lives enjoy a new lease on life and a future.
The Socialist International and its member parties are committed to supporting the nations of Central and Eastern Europe in their pursuit of a stable political democracy, a fair social market economy, and universal respect for the human rights of each individual, community and people.
To attain these objectives, we must overcome three challenges in Central and Eastern Europe: to defend peace and stability in all regions; to open the gates of the European Union to the new peoples, and to bring together modernism and justice, economic growth and solidarity.
Socialist and social democratic parties in Central and Eastern Europe should champion social justice against conservative and liberal governments, they should defend democratic values and institutions and they should fight nationalism and xenophobia.
2. Peace and stability have not yet been fully achieved, particularly in the Balkans. In the last nine years this region has been severely affected by a sequence of crises, conflicts, and wars which have inflicted pain, suffering, and humiliation on hundreds of thousands of men and women.
The Bosnian tragedy was replayed in Kosovo. Once again the international community - after having recourse to all available political alternatives - was forced to implement extreme measures in the defence of the irrevocable and fundamental rights of each individual, of each people.
History has taught the peoples of the Balkans to see their future as an ongoing conflict with their neighbours. Today however we must defend an opposing view: the future is not built against but rather with one's neighbour.
We are determined to ensure all conflicts be resolved through dialogue and co-operation, that understanding conquer hate, and that segregation be vanquished by co-existence.
The future of European integration is also decisive for these severely affected regions. The regions' stability and the future of its peoples depend primarily on the Balkan countries becoming steadfast members of the European Union, although current political and economic conditions render this a possibility only for the long term.
To this end it is crucial that the European Union formalise stable and well-structured relations with the Balkan countries as part of a programme comprised of several stages whose final objective is the ultimate integration of this region within the European Union.
A strategy of this sort will foster and promote the fulfilment of the commitments and the achievement of the objectives set out by the international community in pursuit of stability in the region by:
- Fulfilling the Dayton Agreements, a Bosnia united and based on co-operation among all groups and communities;
- Supporting the UN High Commissioner in Kosovo in the task of empowering self- government in the region together with material and moral reconstruction, while guaranteeing the safety and the rights of all peoples - Albanians, Serbs, Romany and others - living in Kosovo;
- Supporting further development of democracy in multi-ethnic and multi-confessional Montenegro, that has been and still is under constant pressure from the Milosevic regime, by guaranteeing fundamental rights for the people of Montenegro to express their free will on the relation they wish to have with Serbia;
- Guaranteeing in Serbia and elsewhere in the region the rights of all national and ethnic minorities in compliance with the European standards;
- Supporting Serbian democratic and opposition forces to expedite and facilitate Milosevic's removal and install full and true democracy in Belgrade.
- Consolidating democratic stability in Albania and Macedonia;
- Bringing into force a Stability Pact and developing all means of regional co-operation and integration;
- Helping the hundreds of thousands of refugees to return to their homes and once again establish a normal life;
- Supporting the endeavours of the International Court of Justice for War Crimes in ex-Yugoslavia.
3. Throughout the centuries Europe has been unified several times, always through war and one nation's oppression of others.
On the threshold of the new millennium, Europe for the first time in its history is committed to achieving its own reunification through consensus, integration and peace.
The beginning of negotiations which will lead to the entry of Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Estonia and Cyprus to the European Union, and the forthcoming and long awaited negotiations with Slovakia, Bulgaria, Rumania, Lithuania, Latvia and Malta, will represent an historic transition that will contribute to a new European identity.
These countries have come a long way in the last ten years and what is more, the prospect of integration has given rise to and fostered policies of modernisation, which have, in turn, favoured economic and social development.
Now we must forge ahead, providing sufficient resources for the programme of convergence with the 'acquis communautaire' that each candidate country has launched. We must also ensure that other countries that aspire to entry will have the opportunity to start structured relations with the EU. The entry of Central European countries must also be extended to the remaining Euro-Atlantic institutions - WEU, OCSE, OSCE, NATO, institutions for Regional Co-operation - thus creating a network of multilateral relations in Central and Eastern Europe capable of supporting peace, stability and the security of the continent.
4. The transition in Russia and the other nations born out of the disintegration of the USSR has been and continues to be marked by violent change and difficulty. Seventy years of communism and an almost total absence - throughout Russia's history - of experience in democracy and a market economy make political and economic stability even more difficult to achieve.
Political instability, institutional uncertainty, widespread corruption, all jeopardise economic transition and widen the gap between the people and those in power, further weakening the social consensus for democracy.
Undoubtedly it is worrying that some sectors of society in Russia, those most affected by the crisis, profess a nostalgia for the past, but this is an almost unique situation among Eastern countries. The international community must give priority to helping Russia overcome her present difficulties.
Let it never be forgotten that whenever Russia has felt insecure or isolated this instability has swept across the rest of Europe.
A democratic, stable Russia is essential to security in Europe and the rest of the world.
The European Union, in particular, plays a decisive role providing Russia with a strong anchor in Europe and leading a strategy which will help the Russian State and society to gradually come to grips with the modern era and the realities of economic growth. Just as important is the support provided by international political and financial institutions to the policies of reform.
Ideally the forthcoming legislative and presidential elections will serve as an opportunity for an open political class to freely express its wish for a strong programme of renewed democracy and a more equitable economic development.
Stability in Russia is fundamental for the resulting stability of other nations - such as the Ukraine or Belarus - who face severe economic hardship and political instability or who are overwhelmed by war and locked in ethnic conflicts, as in the Caucasus.
The international community must also continue to provide care and commitment and offer such economic co-operation as will allow these countries to benefit from resources such as petroleum and other raw materials. We must likewise underpin the actions of multilateral organisations - such as OSCE - to promote negotiated political solutions to these conflicts
5. The events and developments which struck Central and Eastern Europe ten years ago prove the continuing historic validity of the values of democratic socialism and the need to put these into effect.
When we look back upon the events of the last ten years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, it becomes apparent that savage, selfish liberalism cannot guarantee prosperity for a large number of citizens. This prosperity can only be furnished by those who - like us social democrats - struggle for a democracy which recognises all citizens, for a social market economy, for a more just society capable of combining modernism and solidarity.
These last few years have also seen in these countries the emergence and growth of parties inspired by social democratic principles and programmes, many of which have come to power. The activities of the SI Committee for Central and Eastern Europe - SICEE - actively fostered the presence of social democratic parties in the region. In 1993 - the year the SICEE was founded - the SI had six member parties in that region which have now grown to twenty four and the Congress is studying the applications submitted by several other parties.
The Committee has also established formal relations with other progressive and left-wing parties interested in co-operating with the SI.
In the last six years the SICEE has met in Budapest, Prague, Bratislava, Warsaw, Bucharest, Sarajevo and Moscow, thus ensuring a constant and visible presence throughout the region.
The socialist family's extended presence is heartening evidence of the importance of the values, principles and policies of democratic socialism for the future of Central and Eastern Europe and the rest of the continent.
With regard to Belarus, the Socialist International,
Denounces the violence against and the arrest of peaceful demonstrators in the March for Freedom on 17 October in Minsk.
Urges the Belarusian regime to immediately release political prisoners and to intensify the investigation into the cases of the politicians who have disappeared in mysterious circumstances.
Underlines that the Belarusian regime will have no political legitimacy until free and fair elections have been held.
Recalls the fact that President Lukashenka's presidential period, in accordance with the Constitution has ended.
Gives strong support to the OSCE presence in Minsk and its efforts to promote conditions for free and fair elections as well as the efforts made to ensure that the opposition has access to the media.
With regard to the South Caucasus, the Socialist International,
Will observe that the process of political and economic reforms initiated in the South Caucasus will contribute to the consolidation of the democratic transition, the economic development and the construction of a just and permanent peace.
The Mediterranean has a long history of conflict, disruption and confrontation. At the same time no citizen in this area would feel out of place in any of the other nineteen countries of the region. Recognising that the Mediterranean is also the source of ideas and basic cultural concepts without which our world would not exist, we are determined to promote understanding and mutual knowledge among the societies in order to banish mistrust and collective prejudice. In particular the risk of regarding the aspirations of the peoples of the Mediterranean as in some sense 'criminal' which arises from the over-concentration on security matters, important as these are, at the expense of the real desire for partnership among the states, and above all of the peoples whose countries border the Mediterranean - must be avoided. For this reason the Socialist International proposes three areas of action which are fundamental to the democratic forces involved and particularly to those which border the Mediterranean :
- a push towards a Euro-Mediterranean partnership
- a strengthening of democracy
- action for peace and conflict resolution.
I. MAKING THE EURO-MEDITERRANEAN PARTNERSHIP MORE MEANINGFUL
The development of an ambitious Euro-Mediterranean partnership such as resulted from the 1995 Barcelona Conference is a decisive step forward for the Mediterranean which was made possible by the peace initiative which came about in the Middle East. But this partnership which raised great hopes has suffered from the reverses to peace in the Middle East and it is still marked and reduced in scope by the excessive confidence placed in free-trade mechanisms as a solution to the grave problems faced by the societies on the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean basin. The two shores of the Mediterranean are sadly affected by disruption and differing forms of development in the fields of demography, political organisation, economy, society and culture. It is for such reasons that Spain, France, Italy and Greece by themselves enjoy 88 per cent of the GNP of the region.
A stable and developing Mediterranean is a strategic objective for Europe and must be seen as such by SI member parties. The great importance and the financial weight attaching to the expansion of the European Union and its responsibilities in the Balkans must not impair Europe's will to make Euro-Mediterranean partnership its first foreign affairs priority and to devote political will and the necessary resources to achieving it. In this context we must mention public sector aid and the debt relief or the conversion of debt into investment. We also have to adopt a firmer attitude to corruption which plagues many societies and drains away resources needed for development.
The development of genuine regional co-operation and the encouragement of initiatives aimed at the construction of a democratic Maghreb are a particular necessity, for they alone are able to promote real regional development and a balanced and effective partnership with the European Union. The EU must use all its influence to prevail on the US to adopt an attitude of co-operation rather than of confrontation in the region.
II. SUPPORTING DEMOCRATIC FORCES
For socialist and social democratic parties no lasting partnership and no genuine development can be established without development in the field of politics and human rights. To take into account the histories and the specific conditions of each national reality does in no way call into question the universal nature of human rights and democratic principles, the rule of law, freedom for parties to organise effectively, real press freedom and the abolition of monopolisation of power. In this area the Mediterranean region presents some worrying situations. The SI is there not to pronounce condemnations but to encourage all positive developments and to issue words of warning when reverses occur. The courageous and growing vitality of civil society, of the feminist movement and of a demanding young generation which is in a large majority are signs of hope which demand our effective and efficient solidarity. The harassment of those active in politics and in organised groups must be singled out as signs of regressive behaviour. Examples of religious fundamentalism are not just a danger to peoples but an obstacle to the development of real friendship among peoples.
The SI expresses its fraternal support to the process of alternation of political power taking place in Morocco under the auspices of our comrades of the Socialist Union of Popular Forces, USFP: no effort must be spared on their behalf. Their success despite inevitable difficulties will be important not just for the people of Morocco but for the Maghreb and the Arab world.
For long the SI has expressed its solidarity with the people of Algeria who have been suffering a situation of terribly murderous violence and a dramatic fall in their economic and social conditions of life and with its member party, the Socialist Forces Front, which has played its full part since the beginning of the crisis in supporting dialogue, reconciliation and democracy. From one electoral exercise to another the people of Algeria have expressed untiringly a sense of hope which has never so far received any concrete reply. The SI expects that the Algerian authorities, faithful to their official declarations, will put an effective end to the limitation placed on political activity and engage in the process of political reform and create the rule of law in which allow all political forces who condemn and uncompromisingly reject violence to participate in the construction of a state for all Algerians.
The SI accords particular attention to the new situation in Libya, now a full member of the Mediterranean partnership and an important element in the building of any structure for the region.
III. ACTION IN FAVOUR OF PEACE AIMED AT THE RESOLUTION OF CONFLICTS
One of the things in which the Socialist International takes pride is that it played an essential role, directly and through its leaders and member parties, in the launching of the peace process which has happily come about in the Middle East. It gives its full backing to its member parties in Israel and Palestine in their resolute and whole-hearted commitment to the new stage constituted by the search for a definitive settlement. It draws attention to the situation which has continued for all too long in Southern Lebanon and hopes that the new year will see the complete restoration of Lebanon's integrity and sovereignty, and a peace agreement between Israel and Lebanon.
The Socialist International underlines the importance for the regions of the new climate between the peoples of Greece and Turkey, each of whom was plunged into mourning this summer and between the parties and governments of the two countries. It expresses its fraternal greetings to its member parties, PASOK and the Republican People's Party. It salutes all those who are trying to modernise political life in Turkey above and beyond the stagnation and obstacles created by all types of conservative and authoritarian forces. It recalls the conclusions of its Working Group on the Kurdish Question, and emphasises the importance it attaches to this question.
The Socialist International supports the entry of the Republic of Cyprus to the European Union and gives its firm encouragement to the the holding of meaningful discussions between the two communities on the island and supports a solution based on international law and UN resolutions.
THE MIDDLE EAST
The Congress of the Socialist International, meeting in Paris 8-10 November 1999, to review the general status of the Middle East peace process,
Congratulates its member parties, the Israel Labour Party and Meretz, on their victory in the last elections, which puts an end to the three years of stalemate in the peace process under the previous government;
Notes with satisfaction the renewal of the peace process and welcomes the signing of the Sharm-el-Sheikh Memorandum and the significant progress already achieved by the Israeli and Palestinian leadership in implementing important elements of the Wye River Memorandum;
Appreciates the resumption of final status negotiations and hopes that the timetable proposed will be respected;
Confirms its determination that the peace process on all its tracks be established on the principles and basis of international legitimacy and mutual security as embodied in Resolutions 242, 338 and 425 of the UN Security Council and on the principles stated in the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference, the Oslo accords and on all other resolutions and agreements concluded between the parties;
Reaffirms likewise the right of Israel to live within secure and recognised borders;
Reaffirms that these principles and agreements, aiming at a permanent and stable peace, provide for Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian and other occupied territories, allowing the Palestinians to practice their inalienable right to self-determination and the setting up of an independent, democratic Palestinian state which is the best guarantee for stability in the region, and in this regard welcomes the Conclusions of the Berlin European summit of March 1999;
Calls upon the parties to negotiate the shape and substance of future relations between them and to develop patterns of close economic and cultural cooperation;
Asks both sides to desist from unilateral practices, particularly settlement activity;
Condemns terrorism, the killing of civilians-men, women and children-in the strongest possible terms. The parties must spare no effort to destroy terrorism, isolate the terrorists and to put an end to violent extremist activities;
Reiterates the importance of granting economic support to the Palestinian Authority, of regional economic cooperation and of extending every kind of assistance to the Palestinian people to improve their living conditions;
Encourages the parties to renew work on the multilateral track;
Calls upon Syria and Israel to resume as soon as possible negotiations on the Syrian track, on the basis of the UN Security Council Resolutions and the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference;
Requests the Presidium, in collaboration with the SI Middle East Committee (SIMEC), to set up a high level delegation to visit Syria and Lebanon in order to enhance the peace process;
Reasserts its conviction that no real and lasting peace in the region will be established if the Kurdish question is not addressed. The international community must put pressure on the governments concerned to start profound democratic reforms and to favour political, negotiated, peaceful and fair solutions guaranteeing the legitimate rights of the Kurds within the borders of each country concerned;
Supports the planned fact-finding delegation of the SIMEC Working Group on the Kurdish Question to the region to support and to enhance democratic developments;
The Congress of the Socialist International expresses, in these decisive times, its solidarity with the Israel Labour Party, Meretz and with Fatah and their leaders, in their bold efforts to reach a just and lasting peace, bringing security and stability to the region.
LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
We have won a battle
The Latin American and Caribbean region has been both architect and beneficiary of one of the most important democratic transitions ever. The continent has transformed itself from one that was dominated by dictatorship and violence into one of growing political pluralism where democracy and a new sense of respect for fundamental freedom prevail.
The Socialist International and social democratic parties played a leading role in this transformation, individually and together with other democratic movements in the region, and are today in the forefront of the continuing effort to strengthen democratic institutions, achieve social justice and ensure respect for human rights.
Progress thus far has not been enough
The people of Latin America and the Caribbean are now seeking new forms of economic, political and commercial integration, within the region and with the rest of the world. On the eve of a new millennium, the region is striving for modernisation and human progress.
However, millions of people in the region are still living in abject poverty. Adequate nutrition, health services and decent housing are still not available for the great majority. And in an era when knowledge and training are so important, the poor quality of education threatens to condemn the region to permanent underdevelopment with little hope for equitable societies.
Market policies, imposed by international financial institutions and accepted uncritically by many political leaders, have to some degree improved the macroeconomic situation but have also left greater numbers of people in poverty. Without governmental guidance on behalf of the common good, the 'invisible hand' of the market has become for too many people in the region an iron fist and the neo-liberal dream a social nightmare which threatens the very democracy from which it claims its origins.
On the eve of the new millennium, the Socialist International therefore seeks and supports policies that balance the necessary concern for economic efficiency and freedom with the need for more equitable societies, greater opportunities for all people and an uplifting of the spirit as well as material growth. Programmes based on social democratic principles, in fact, continue to be supported by increasing numbers of people in Latin America and the Caribbean. There are now about thirty-five SI member parties from around two dozen nations in the region and social democratic forces recently won important national elections in Argentina where we look forward to the inauguration of Fernando de la Rúa as president of that important country.
Democracy cannot be guaranteed simply by the triumph of the ballot box
In Latin America and the Caribbean experience has demonstrated that legitimacy gained through elections can endure and be consolidated only if it goes hand in hand with greater levels of governability, accountability and transparency.
The people of the region have thus far been relatively patient, but that should not be confused with disinterest. The powerful voice of the people has punished the political class in Ecuador, Paraguay and Venezuela, and signs of growing discontent are evident in countries such as Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico and Peru. Meanwhile, in Cuba, the voices that are demanding democracy and respect for human rights refuse to be silenced. While at the same time it must be asked: How long are the poor in countries such as Haiti, Nicaragua, Honduras and the Dominican Republic to wait for an end to their poverty and the indifference of their leaders? And how long will the violence in Colombia keep its people enslaved under a monopoly of terror?
Learning from History
People who do not or cannot remember are easy prey to demagogy. The nations of Latin America and the Caribbean must learn from their past so that they can forge their future wisely. They must not forget that militarism subordinates, that poverty kills, that discrimination divides, that exclusion deprives people of legitimacy, that corruption debases, and that ignorance undermines development and condemns people to the worst slavery of all, that of the spirit.
To learn from history also allows the people of Latin America and the Caribbean to forgive - but only in the knowledge that there is no true forgiveness without justice and no justice when there is impunity. For the victims of killings and disappearances in countries that endured dictatorship, the demand is for justice that comes from the truth, truth about history, truth that will guarantee the freedom of expression, truth that will promote respect for cultural and ethnic diversity, truth that guarantees the right to disagree; truth that is simply another name for pluralism and democracy.
The challenge of democratic stability
In the view of the Socialist International, the people of Latin America and the Caribbean are facing two formidable challenges. The first, which is ethical in nature, relates to the individual and collective values of people and ultimately will determine the quality of politics and the intensity of commitments to the societies in which we live. The second challenge relates to democracy: finding ways to strengthen democratic institutions so that they will encourage and embrace the emerging culture of popular participation, and lessen the centralism that has kept our democracies weak and incomplete.
Democracy in the region is vulnerable and, with few exceptions, is still in the process of being born. The advent of democracy has been very sudden and our societies and institutions are still trying to recover from years of terror and disorder. It is true that people throughout the region have less reason to be afraid to express themselves, but institutions still need to be updated. It seems that with regard to politics in the region there has been a change of ships when what history is actually demanding is a sea change.
From Mexico to Patagonia the region is witnessing a new revolution in which people are seeking popular empowerment and an end to traditional structures of power. To accomplish this goal, however, there must be significant reform of educational systems and the provision of greater resources for the teaching of our children, particularly so they can take advantage of modern technologies. The people of the region can no longer afford the current distribution of public expenditure that favours the barracks over our schools.
Realising people's aspirations through social democracy
At the SI Congress in New York three years ago, we warned of the urgent need for democratic governability in Latin America and the Caribbean. Today the task is still before us and continues to be made difficult by financial crises and conditions related to economic globalisation. The Socialist International and its member parties in the region, however, remain doubly committed to pursuing our progressive agenda and ensuring against any regression in the positive process underway. The history of Latin America and the Caribbean is filled with unfinished dreams, but our International remains firm in its belief that through social democracy the aspirations of the people of the region can be fulfilled.
* * * * *
With regard to Puerto Rico, the Socialist International,
Within the context of the regime of political subordination in Puerto Rico, the government of the United States unilaterally retains and exercises military authority in this Caribbean country;
The intense bombing exercises carried out by the US Navy on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques and its occupation of two thirds of the territory of this island is detrimental to the peace, health and development of its almost ten thousand inhabitants, in violation of their human rights;
The government of Puerto Rico, with the support of all the political parties and of the hierarchy of the Church and the trade unions, has formally asked the President of the United States to immediately and permanently cease all military manoeuvres in Vieques and return the land currently occupied by the Navy to the people of Puerto Rico;
In its report on Puerto Rico of 10 July 1999, the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation, urged the Government of the United States to cease its military manoeuvres and its occupation of the island of Vieques;
To urge the President of the United States to respect the will of the Puerto Rican people who have so far been unable to fully exercise their rights to self-determination and independence and to order the immediate cessation of all military manoeuvres and the return of the land occupied by the Navy in Vieques to the Puerto Rican people.
To express its solidarity and support for Senator Rubén Berríos Martínez, President of the Puerto Rican Independence Party, for his peaceful acts of civil disobedience and resistance and his leadership in this cause, which is that of all the people of Puerto Rico.
With regard to Colombia, the Socialist International
Expresses its solidarity with the Colombian people in their democratic struggle in search of reconciliation, and reiterates its interest in contributing as respectfully and constructively as possible to the success of the negotiation process between the national government and the insurgent groups.
Urges all Colombians, particularly those of the SI member, the Liberal Party and those who share our ideals and the responsibilities of social democracy, not to waver in their support for a political solution to the internal armed conflict.
Shares the principle that the people of Colombia have a sovereign right, without any kind of foreign intervention or inappropriate interference but with altruistic assistance given in solidarity by all democratic nations of the world, to organise and direct the process which will lead to understanding and agreement.
Agrees that an SI Standing Committee shall be established, responsible for following events in Colombia, which will keep all member parties informed of developments in the peace process in that country and ensure the Socialist International's expressed willingness to support and cooperate in any possible way to achieving a negotiated settlement to the armed confrontation.
With regard to Peru, the Socialist International
Expresses its alarm and deepest concern at the current situation with regard to the rule of law, welcomes and lends its active support to the struggle of the Peruvian Aprista Party to defend democracy and social justice and denounces the systematic persecution of political leaders, the harassing of opponents and presidential candidates and the coercion of the media opposed to the regime.
In light of these events which flagrantly violate the law and attempt to deny the right to vote and to be elected of the former President of Peru, Alan García, who has been nominated to head the parliamentary list of the APRA,
To demand that Alberto Fujimori's regime duly respect the will of the people by organising free elections and cease its acts of hostility towards sectors of the democratic opposition and its enforcement of unconstitutional laws intended to prevent Alan García from exercising his political and civil rights.
With regard to Venezuela, the Socialist International,
Having closely followed the process of the drafting of a new Constitution in Venezuela, notes with concern the short time that the government is allowing for this procedure, which could be reflected in the quality of the new Constitution, with repercussions in different sectors of national life.
Recognises the use of consensus and political accords as valid instruments for the stability and the strengthening of democracy, and at the same time rejects in the strongest possible manner, the process of militarisation of the State, social programmes and political institutions.
Observes with concern that the national design proposed in the draft constitution could lead not only to a regressive process of decentralisation of the Venezuelan State, but also to a marked concentration of power in the person of the President of the Republic and, as a consequence, a deterioration and break-up of the Venezuelan democracy.
With regard to Mexico, the Socialist International,
recognising that the armed conflict in a region in the State of Chiapas, which has been taking place since 1994, has passed through different stages and has reached a point at which it is essential to re-establish a climate of dialogue and negotiation to find just solutions which will satisfy all sides,
urges those in conflict to resume negotiations and re-establish a dialogue which will allow peace to be achieved with justice and dignity in the region;
recommends that the agreements signed at previous stages of negotiation by those concerned, be complied with;
demands that all vestiges of human rights violations be eradicated and to thoroughly investigate any reports of such violations;
recommends that the rule of law be fully respected in order to prevent the operation or resurgence of paramilitary groups which may provoke conflict in the region.
With regard to the Southern Cone region of South America, the Socialist International,
Expresses its great satisfaction at the election of Fernando de la Rúa as president of Argentina;
At the same time expresses its support in upcoming elections for the social democratic forces in Chile, represented by Ricardo Lagos and the Concertación, and in Uruguay by Dr. Tabaré Vázquez and the Encuentro Progresista-Frente Amplio.
With regard to Haiti, the Socialist International,
welcomes the initiative of member parties KONAKOM and PANPRA for having established, in conjunction with other political organisations, a political coalition &laqno; A Space for Harmony »;
manifests the desire that &laqno; A Space for Harmony » shall efficiently consolidate and contribute to the electoral process underway in Haiti and thus foster the process on the road to democracy;
condemns the climate of insecurity and violence which worsens the suffering of the people of Haiti while jeopardising the country's advance towards democracy.
states its wish for local and legislative elections to be effectively held on 19 March 2000 in accordance with the scheduled electoral calendar, and
commits to sending observers to Haiti during the course of these elections.
Similarly, with regard to the Dominican Republic, the Socialist International,
Expresses its support in next year's elections for the social democratic and progressive forces represented by presidential candidate Hipólito Mejía, of the SI member Dominican Revolutionary Party, PRD.
With regard to Panama, the Socialist International,
Notes with satisfaction that the fulfilment of the Torrijos-Carter Treaties will be completed within 40 days. An old source of conflict about which the International has frequently been concerned now ended. It is proof that successful negotiations between a small country and a great power is possible and we hope to see further examples of this in the future.
LOCAL AND REGIONAL AUTHORITIES
The Socialist International in its profound commitment to peace, progress and development in solidarity looks forward to the third millennium with an even greater focus on the problems directly affecting the urban population.
In a world of continuous change, characterised by globalisation of the economy and information on the one hand and by the increasing inequalities between countries, regions and their inhabitants on the other, the SI once again proclaims its desire to make the city a more human environment.
The Committee for Local and Regional Authorities has undertaken a series of activities in accordance with the decision adopted during the XX Congress held in New York in 1996, in keeping with the spirit of the Declaration of Bologna. The SI has been involved in an in-depth analysis of the different forms of governance of cities with a view to increasing transparency, rigor and democracy, the enhancement of quality of life in the city and with a view to adopting a more open attitude to the outside world.
The SI notes with satisfaction the new momentum given to its commitment on this subject during the II World Conference of Mayors, held in Fez on 5-6 of October 1998, with the participation of more than 250 Mayors representing all the continents. The main subjects for discussion were : the Socialist response to the information society; new partnerships between States and Local Authorities; globalisation of solidarity, and cities in conflict.
The Committee of Local and Regional Representatives was instructed by the Paris Congress to further pursue its activities and apply the specific proposals submitted in the &laqno; Fez Declaration » and specifically commissions it to :
- Draft a Charter of the Local Socialist Authority, reiterating our ethical values in public administration;
- Take action at all levels of power in national parliaments and government as well as in international institutions so as to establish conditions which will lead to a truly decentralised and interactive co-operation among cities, as well as significantly enhancing mutual democratic inter-relations;
- Foster the creation of a network for the exchange of experiences and skills, mainly through an Intranet which will connect SI Mayors and with a specific focus on the participation and integration of Southern Cities;
- Support all initiatives aimed at proclaiming a World Charter of local autonomy.
The Congress also encourages the Committee to continue with its initiatives, such as that undertaken on the 10-11 September in Cartaxo, Portugal, and provide manifest proof the more developed cities' solidarity towards those in adversity, mainly in cases of war or natural disaster. This established the basis for partnership in solidarity with the cities of south-east Europe and launched a strong appeal for international aid for the Turkish cities shaken by the earthquake on 17 August, mainly the city of Izmit.
INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT
The Socialist International,
Noting that the Treaty of Rome which created the International Criminal Court was signed in 1998;
Urges that all nations which have yet to do so, ratify the Treaty as soon as possible.