For a common road to peace, susutainability and cooperation: the need to secure multilateralism
XXIV Congress of the Socialist International, Cape Town, 30 August-1 September 2012
Societies and nations across the world are more than ever interlinked and interdependent. The greatest challenges we face are global, with impacts that are felt from the most to the least developed economies. To confront and overcome these challenges, we need solutions that take into account the needs of all people.
To bring about such solutions, the Socialist International has consistently underlined the necessity of multilateral efforts to construct a sustainable, prosperous, just and peaceful world society. Only through cooperation among peoples and between nations can the pressing issues that face our societies be resolved: the hardship brought about by the global economic crisis and long-term economic injustice, the devastation and destruction as a result of ongoing conflict, the lack of food security for millions and the threat of catastrophic climate change.
International institutions are a vital part of the multilateral and multilevel global political system, and must be given the necessary instruments to secure a viable future for all. There is a need to strengthen b democratic legitimacy and trust in these institutions by making them more representative, more transparent and more accountable.
A commitment to multilateralism is a prerequisite in order to effectively face challenges to global stability and sustainable development.
A. Peace and conflict resolution
The Socialist International has always been at the forefront of the efforts to achieve peace and stability. We reaffirm our faith that a multilateral approach is the only way to achieve these goals.
Ongoing conflicts impede development and progress. There are numerous local and regional conflicts, which today have both regional and global repercussions. We should seek to resolve these conflicts through national and regional efforts, and with multilateral interventions and support when such efforts fail. A failure to promote such a strategy will inevitably result in severe economic, social and environmental degradation, and the prolongation of conflicts which are extremely detrimental to prospects for progress and the well being of citizens in conflict-hit countries and regions.
Dialogue and negotiations should be actively promoted wherever peace and stability are at risk based on the fact that human rights are not bound by political borders. A commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including civil and political rights is non-negotiable. Moreover, any policy of humanitarian intervention must be based on a UN mandate and on the principles of international law.
During this critical juncture for regional and world peace it is imperative that the role of the United Nations (UN) must be strengthened. To that end the UNSC requires a reform of its membership, and consideration should be made to appoint more permanent members to the council, in order to make it more representative. There have been cases made for India, Brazil, Japan and representatives from Africa and the Arab world. All of the cases should be considered thoroughly and there should be more steps taken to improve the implementation of the council’s resolutions.
In many current conflict situations, it is evident that multilateralism is the only route by which a lasting resolution may be found.
With regard to Syria, the SI is following with deep concern the massacres that take place on a daily basis, as the Assad regime refuses to accept that change is inevitable. We stand firmly on the side of the Syrian people in their fight for democracy and human rights and condemn the brutal actions of the regime. We call for all sides to end hostilities and enter into negotiations without any preconditions. We are not in favour of foreign military intervention, which can lead to further human suffering and instability in the whole region. We strongly support a Syrian-led process of transition to democracy.
To ensure an effective and decisive role of the international community to save lives and to implement without delay the democratic demands of the citizens of Syria we call on the Security Council of the United Nations, and in particular Russia and China, to act in line with the overwhelming sentiment of the international community to protect the Syrian people.
The Socialist International renews its support for a just, comprehensive and lasting solution to the Palestinian issue based on international law through inter alia, two states with Jerusalem as capital of both states, living in peace and security, on the borders of 1967 - and which coexist with full respect for all the rights of their citizens. The end of occupation and peace are the best guarantee of security for Israel, and for freedom, sovereignty, development and democracy in Palestine.
Therefore, we reiterate our firm commitment to the recognition by the international community of the state of Palestine on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and its admission to the United Nations, in accordance with the right of its people to self-determination, freedom, justice and dignity. We commit, as member parties, to actively work to secure such recognition and support for the admission of Palestine to the UN by our respective countries.
The Socialist International has urged all parties to redouble efforts to promote dialogue and the resumption of direct negotiations, notably by putting a complete end to settlement policies which constitute gross violation of international law, a serious obstacle to peace and amount to discrimination and segregation. These Israeli policies include notably settlement activity, confiscation of land and home demolitions, including in East Jerusalem, and the blockade on Gaza. The settlements’ products, which use Palestinian land and resources, should be boycotted. The thousands of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails must be freed. The SI insists that violent confrontations should be avoided, and civilian lives be saved and protected.
The Kurdish question, like that of Israel and Palestine, is one that requires a multilateral answer. Parties representing Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria and the Kurdish people with the assistance of the UN and other supranational institutions must work within a multilateral framework. The Congress of the Socialist International has decided to re-establish a Special Working Group on the Kurdish Question with the aim to advance and protect in accordance with international law the rights, the security and the improvement of the living conditions of the Kurdish people.
The Socialist International is particularly concerned with conflicts in Africa. In order to tackle these conflicts there must be strengthening of regional institutions, such as the African Union (AU). Its members have the capacity to make the Union a more effective tool for maintaining regional stability. When threats to democracy manifest themselves, as has recently been the case in west Africa, a unified and coherent multilateral response is a crucial step to upholding the rule of law and the integrity of democratic institutions. In Mali, for example, multilateral cooperation is crucial to ensure national unity, integrity of the territory and geo-strategic issues, as well as a relentless war against terrorism, transnational organised crime and drug trafficking.
Equally, the African and international community must strive to bring about peace and stability in relation to the existing conflicts in East Africa, especially in Somalia and South Sudan.
Recalling the resolutions and statements of the Socialist International on Western Sahara and in particular the one adopted at the Athens Council; further recalling the United Nations and African Union resolutions on Western Sahara; considering it as a case of decolonisation; and concerned with the recurring violations of human rights; the Socialist International reiterates its full support for the right of self-determination of the Saharawi people and demands the urgent implementation of all the United Nations resolutions and African Union resolutions guaranteeing this right. It urges the urgent resumption of direct negotiations between Morocco and Polisario Front under the auspices of the UN. The SI supports the efforts undertaken by the UN Secretary General to achieve a just, peaceful and lasting solution to this long conflict. We express our concern on the degrading situation on human rights and further demand the opening of the territory to independent observers, NGOS and the media. The Socialist International agrees to send a mission in the spirit of the proposal of the SI Mediterranean Committee.
Regarding the Cyprus issue, the Socialist International continues to find the status quo on the island unacceptable and expresses its great disappointment at the failure to date of the UN-led talks to reach a lasting agreement. The SI urges the parties to intensify their efforts to achieve a just solution and unification of the island based on all relevant UN resolutions. The resolution of the Cyprus issue will have an important positive impact on regional peace and stability as well as economic development.
The Socialist International calls on the governments of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of the Republic of Argentina to find a just, peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict of sovereignty on the Falklands/ Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich islands and adjacent territorial waters, in accordance with the resolution of the United Nations and the Special Committee for decolonisation.
B. Achieving sustainability
Multilateralism is crucial to achieving a sustainable future for the planet, and is of particular importance in relation to climate change. Our movement has long recognised the need to tackle climate change multilaterally, and our Commission for a Sustainable World Society has been a high-level forum for exchanges within our organisation in the long tradition of the efforts of the Socialist International to promote and ensure equality, economic opportunity, social justice and sustainable development. Our ideas and initiatives continue to influence discussions and conclusions at international talks on sustainability and climate change, a process facilitated by the regular presence of those who have participated in meetings of the SI in these fora.
The threat of climate change to world society is more apparent than ever before. While it has consequences for all of world society, the impact of climate change is disproportionate, with those that pollute the least often suffering the most. Nowhere is this truer than in Africa, where many of the countries most vulnerable to climate change are situated. There is a need for more solidarity between the developed and developing world, and commitments to reduce carbon emissions worldwide can be reduced worldwide and potential catastrophe averted.
We recognise that for some, faith in multilateralism has been damaged by the inability of governments to reach binding conclusions that are sufficiently ambitious to halt and reverse the trend towards catastrophic climate change. Our movement must find ways to restore this belief that the solution is to be found through the UN process, which will require all nations, in both the developed and developing world to make sacrifices for the sake of future generations who will inhabit our planet. Global greenhouse gas reduction efforts must however work in tandem with a pro-poor adaptation agenda. The reality is that long-term sustainability means each and every nation, government and citizen taking responsibility and is only achievable through cooperation.
The future of nuclear energy
Cooperation and collaboration in the search for energy solutions has been endorsed by our Commission for a Sustainable World Society, which has consistently called for the use of renewable energy, underlining that nuclear energy does not represent a medium to long-term solution. In light of the meltdown at Fukushima nuclear power plant in March 2011, careful consideration needs to be given to the use of nuclear energy. The dangers presented by nuclear energy production should be a catalyst for the development of clean energy to progressively replace nuclear power in the energy mix.
The Socialist International will continue to accompany its Japanese comrades in the rebuilding process underway, and supports the proposal of the Social Democratic Party for phasing out the production of nuclear energy in Japan by 2020 and generating 100% of energy in Japan from clean and renewable sources by 2050.
C. Cooperation among people and between nations
At the heart of the concept of multilateralism is the idea of cooperation among people and between nations. The Socialist International has within its membership representatives from all regions of the world, united in their pursuit of a fairer and more prosperous future for all, with each citizen able to enjoy full freedoms and opportunities. As social democrats, we recognise the value in cooperation and mutually agreed solutions to shared problems.
Multilateralism also entails cooperation within the framework of regional and international institutions, to allow an effective system of global governance. Not only will more cooperation result in more durable outcomes in areas of dispute and conflict, but it can provide mutual benefit in achieving common goals more effectively, for example in the field of disarmament, where multilateral moves to curtail WMDs, in particular through nuclear disarmament, can open up opportunities to cooperate more substantially on economic and social issues and to reduce defence expenditure, allowing public funds to be deployed for more positive objectives.
Many of the great successes of our movement have been achieved as a result of the unique position of the Socialist International, an organisation which is able to promote dialogue and understanding and has a track record of finding consensus in the most difficult disputes. This characteristic of the SI is one which we should seek to strengthen, not only within the framework of our organisation, but in all aspects of political life.