Message to the World Social Forum and the World Economic Forum in Davos

ROME COUNCIL - For a More Equal Global Society, 20-21 January 2003


1. We are living at a time when it is particularly important to reaffirm our commitment to two fundamental values in the context of globalisation: peace and justice.

That peace which is not only the absence of war, but the result of well-run international relations for the benefit of people all over the world.

That justice which is the essential basis of peace, and without which peace will be not be stable or lasting.

To struggle for peace thus means, necessarily, to struggle for justice.

We must rehabilitate the great causes and the great values. They are the only way to completely prevent the triumph of those over-simplistic forms of populism which do not hesitate to call on basic instincts such as xenophobia or racism, or the extreme selfishness of "every man for himself" or "sauve qui peut".

These causes and values must also, however, lead to proposals which have credibility in particular for the younger generations, for those who increasingly understand the implications of the globalised world we live in and the new paradigms introduced into our economies and societies by knowledge, the great driving force, not only of wealth, but also of inequality.

2. The international community has now defined an agenda based on the United Nations Millennium Declaration, on the Doha decisions on world trade liberalisation, on the Monterrey agreement on the financing of development and on the Johannesburg conclusions on sustainable development.

It is a limited agenda. Very far from what the Socialist International, SI, was hoping for and recommending. It is important to stress that it is far from guaranteed and requires commitment from everyone within our international institutions, governments and non-governmental organisations.

This agenda should be translated into a "global deal" and made really concrete.

3. For the SI, meanwhile, there are some basic issues which should become foci of mobilisation for the international community.

a) The cancellation of the debt of the poorest countries, subject to minimum conditions of good governance and going further than the ineffective HIPC programme.

b) Agreement on the unilateral opening of markets in the developed world to exports from these countries.

c) A radical change of policy on agricultural subsidies in Europe, the United States and Japan, putting an end to the unacceptable distortion of markets and one of the main obstacles to development in the South. It is legitimate, and indeed necessary, to promote rural development, to support family incomes, thus sustaining the population, the countryside’s landscape and environment and the preservation of cultural values which are part of people’s identity. This is incompatible, however, with the current Common Agricultural Policy, or with the recently increased US subsidies. It is intolerable that livestock in the European Union should be better off than more than one thousand million women, children and men on this planet.

d) The creation of conditions for effective access for the poorest peoples to the drugs necessary to prevent or cure the epidemics which are now a major scourge of humanity.

e) The abolition of offshore tax havens, which constitute not only a fiscal injustice but also - through lack of regulation and the right to anonymity - a decisive factor in the financing of terrorism, drug trafficking and organised crime. These havens are the unacceptable route for the corruption of non-democratic regimes to go unpunished.

f) Strong political pressure for a significant increase in public development aid, which falls unacceptably short of the agreed targets.

g) Finally, the full commitment of the international community to tackling what constitutes the great scandal for human life in our times - the situation in Sub-Saharan Africa. That continent is not only the main victim of the adverse effects of globalisation but, unhappily, almost excluded from that process, abandoned to war, poverty, hunger, debt and death. The NEPAD initiative, by a group of African countries which intend to respect the norms of democracy and good governance, deserves a much stronger response than the vague sympathy which it has received.

4. These are the real causes which motivate and mobilise our active intervention and solidarity. But they do not replace the basic perspective. The central objective of the SI has been, in recent years, the demand for a global programme of reforms to regulate globalisation and a new structure of more balanced and more just international relations, based on the rule of law and guaranteeing an effective system of "world governance". We want to remind you here of the successive proposals we have made within the context of the necessary reform of the United Nations System, for example:

a) The establishment of a UN Economic and Social Security Council, which could take over, with international legitimacy, the mission to coordinate sustainable development on a global scale and push forward effective responses to the imbalances and crisis situations we are currently experiencing, with all the principal engines of the world economy stalled and incapable of a joint effort to re-launch growth and employment. This Council should hold meetings at different levels, including annual summits of Heads of State and Government, together with the leaders of global international organisations.

b) The reform of the Bretton Woods system and a revised "Washington consensus", with greater democratic control and support based on a conditionality which takes account not only of reasonable financial stability or liberalisation of markets in the countries concerned, which should be applied less stringently, but also of the economic and social needs of the people. The IMF should have more effective powers of regulation, enabling it to guarantee the transparency of financial markets and compliance with adequate codes of conduct.

c) The establishment of a World Environment Organisation which would promote the implementation of the existing agreements and treaties, such as the Kyoto Protocol, draft new ones, develop policy and compile reliable information on the real state of the world’s environment.

d) A stronger role and intervention capacity for the International Labour Organisation.

e) The introduction of non-protectionist social and environmental clauses into agreements negotiated by the WTO.

5. Proposals such as these, alongside the deepening of regional processes of political, economic and social integration, like those in the European Union, strong and open inter-regional cooperation, and an ever more active intervention by civil society in the global public arena, will really contribute to much greater justice in international relations, as a real basis for lasting peace.

This agenda of reforms implies a profound redistribution of power, which might be considered utopian at this time when power appears ever more concentrated.

But today’s utopia must become tomorrow’s reality. This is how it has always been in the past when the international community has risen to its responsibilities.

As far as the liberalisation of world trade is concerned, the SI refuses to include education, culture and health in the list of goods and services subject to world trade competition.

6. For this global deal we want to stress 10 key points:

a) International trade as an engine for growth and employment, based on unhindered access to markets in developed economies for developing countries, especially for agricultural and labour-intensive products.

b) Turning the risk of a digital divide into an international digital opportunity. Developing countries must be able to "leapfrog" into the digital economy and the North should launch an inclusion plan for the developing world, involving public-private partnerships.

c) Turning sustainable development into growth opportunities. The ongoing initiatives to promote environmentally sustainable development in agriculture, energy and transport should be fostered and the job opportunities this would create should be tapped.

d) A new approach for development policies combining new trade opportunities, attracting foreign investment, fostering entrepreneurship, building national productive capacity and social infrastructures and increasing accountability. In developing countries, stability and structural adjustment programmes should allow greater fiscal scope for investment and enhanced spending especially on education, health and social development. Debt relief needs to be accelerated for highly indebted countries and development aid to be reinforced, as part of a poverty reduction strategy. New global resources must be made available to finance public sector activity worldwide.

e) Better regulation, supervision and accountability of the financial systems should also provide more stable prospects for sustainable growth and development.

f) Investing in people: Raising educational levels and increasing training opportunities for all, using new methods, are basic conditions for creating more and better jobs. Information technologies can play a key role in providing new opportunities and raising the quality of education.

g) Health care and security are also a basic investment in people with direct and very positive implications for productivity and quality of life. The fight against contagious diseases should be considered the key priority.

h) Employability and adaptability should be fostered through active labour market policies including the fight against all forms of discrimination and more effective assistance for the working poor, to upgrade their jobs. Specific strategies are needed for the informal economy.

i) A safety net for social protection has proved to be a powerful enabling condition for people to adapt to change.

j) Tackling drug-related crime and money laundering by strengthening international coordination to reduce sources of both supply and demand and involving civil society in preventing drug use.

The implementation of a global agenda of this kind requires a broad transformation of governance structures at all levels: international, regional, national and local.

Finally, the SI considers that institutional reform should be an essential condition to bring about a more just and humane globalisation process. The aims of this reform should be the following:

1. In the management of these institutions, developing countries must be given adequate voice to enable them to participate in the making of decisions which affect them.

2. The activity of government bodies and institutions should be carried out with the utmost transparency, so that the criteria and objectives of decisions are clear.

3. The crisis management programmes must be set up in partnership with countries involved, bearing in mind the social consequences of all actions undertaken.

You are currently offline. Some pages or content may fail to load.