Declaration on world poverty
SANTO DOMINGO COUNCIL - Working for a more secure and fairer world, 26-27 November 2001
The Socialist International actively promotes a reduction of world poverty as an essential goal and guarantee of global solidarity. In this context, it adopts the aim of the United Nations Millennium Declaration to reduce present rates of poverty by half by 2015.
As part of the strategy to fight poverty, unemployment and social inequalities, the Socialist International supports the broadening of developed countries’ programmes for the restructuring of foreign debt and for the cancellation of the debts of the less developed countries and of those nations which are experiencing unmanageable economic situations.
Though globalisation of trade and the increase in capital flows which has taken place worldwide in recent years has been accompanied by unprecedented economic growth, it has deepened the gulf between rich and poor countries. New technologies have brought an increasing concentration of economic and financial power which has exposed countries to extreme vulnerability in the face of financial and economic crises.
Though these technologies have increased productivity and created new forms of work they have not allowed an equitable distribution of profits and at the same time have done away with a large number of jobs. Globalisation has increased the power and influence of multinational corporations, speculators and exchange market manipulators at the expense of national governments.
Today, out of a world population of six billion, almost half have incomes of less than US$2 a day. The poorest 10 per cent of the world’s population receives only 1.6 per cent of the income of richest 10 per cent of that population. The poorest 57 per cent of the world’s population hardly receives the income of the richest one per cent.
In recent decades the poorest 5 per cent of the world’s population has lost more than a quarter of its purchasing power, while the richest increased its real income by 12 per cent. The national per capita income of the twenty richest countries is 37 times larger than that of the twenty poorest, a gap which has doubled in size over the last forty years.
States are called on to ensure that globalisation works to the interest of the whole world community and not only to the large capital interests of the multinationals. Governments containing Socialist International member parties should undertake to develop worldwide social and economic policies leading towards the overcoming of the debt, inequality and exclusion which is the lot of millions of the world’s poor. That is contained in the Socialist International’s undertaking that globalisation will bring benefits to all the planet’s inhabitants.
One of the most important measures which must be adopted to help governments everywhere fight poverty is to adapt the structures of a number of multilateral bodies such as the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO, to the demands of the realities of the poorest countries.
The roles of the IMF and the World Bank have become confused because of the practice of making cross-conditionality a requisite for using their credit facilities. Credit programmes must be made more flexible and better suited to social programmes to improve education, health and the fight against poverty.
We support the creation of an Economic Security Council, in the framework of the United Nations, which would seek to co-ordinate international economic policies better and advance the global struggle against poverty. We also declare that it is opportune to be more flexible in structural adjustment policies so that these take into account the industrial development requirements of the poorest countries.
Another measure of great importance is for national governments to adopt socio-economic stabilisation plans using instruments of economic policy which do not deepen social inequalities and poverty. In particular, governments must use instruments which counter retrogressive taxation, the volatility of foreign exchange markets and speculative capital movements and their repercussions on interest rates. They must also strive to ensure that economic stabilisation programmes have the smallest possible effect on high-priority infrastructure projects and in such areas as health, education, nutrition and housing.
Finally, we consider it important that national governments adopt appropriate legislation to ensure that the privatisation of public services such as telecommunications, power, water and transport, be duly regulated so as to ensure that the objective of offering better and more efficient services be scrupulously attained. In practice, it is necessary to prevent the transformation of public monopolies into private oligopolies.