Cancelling the debt of the poorest countries and and providing them with unrestricted market access
1. The present situation
Since the beginning of the 1980s the poorest countries have seen their development dragged down by the weight of debt. Nevertheless growth has been generalised throughout the world - by more than 3 per cent a year in the advanced economies as a whole - but the highly indebted poor countries - HIPCs - have derived no benefit from that. The debt of the poorest countries has risen to $350 billion. In Africa the debt represents 60 per cent of the GNP.
Efforts at debt reduction have so far been clearly insufficient. It is not longer possible to be content with partial solutions - such as reschedulings and refinancings -; which just postpone the problem rather than tackle it.
2. Measures - The objective - Zero Debt for the Poorest Countries in 2001
Cancellation of the debt - whether bilateral or multilateral - of the poorest countries in order to:
- assure a new generation of a future freed from this burden
- use the freedom of manoeuvre afforded by the ending of debt service to fight against poverty for more just and democratic societies, and to finance basic social services (health, education and local development).
3. The campaign
National action plans must be established in order to:
- Mobilise Europeans: the Cairo EU-Africa Summit in April 2000 is an important step forward. This dialogue, the framework and content of which are promising signs of putting into practice a process of solidarity between Africa and Europe, must be continued with a view to an equal partnership. Each country of the Union must undertake to abandon the whole of its bilateral financial claims against the poorest countries.
- Bring in the United States: at the G8 Summit in Cologne, the most industrialised countries formally undertook action through the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. The finance for this must be urgently put in place at the G8 meeting in 2000 in Okinawa.
- The SI must solemnly ask the United States to undertake its responsibilities in the international community's action to support the poor countries.
- Act within the international financial institutions - IMF and World Bank - to change their ways of intervening on debt questions.
4. The event
A gathering with the NGOs in Paris in 2001 to set in motion the plans for combatting poverty.
Making the fight against poverty in Africa an urgent priority
A. AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL
There is an urgent need to:
- give budgetary help to the poorest sections of society;
- put in place a programme of collective action in the fight against poverty;
- finance measures to assist rural peoples to stay on the land and raise their production, and
- restore an economic climate that favours strong economic growth.
2. Improving productive capacity by creating jobs in targeted areas in town and countryside.
In towns, particular attention must be paid to the informal sector and to training the urban workforce.
In the countryside government and popular initiatives must be undertaken to take account of the rights of the poor, particularly on the question of access to land. Access to credit must be made easier for the poor.
3. Improving access to social services
Infrastructure of a public, private or community nature must be put in place to provide health, education, access to drinking water, electricity and roads.
The proportion of children at school must rise to 75 per cent by 2003 through the implementation of a plan to build primary schools through the efforts of local groups, NGOs and popular organisations.
4. Improving the nutrition of children and vulnerable groups
Plans must be made for the improvement of the nutrition of children under three, pregnant women and nursing mothers.
The supply of food must be assured to the poorest households in towns and certain rural areas.
5. An effective policy of information, education and communication must be put in place
National information systems must be improved, popular participation in it encouraged and villages encouraged to appoint spokespeope.
B. AT INTERNATIONAL LEVEL
- To reduce poverty by half by 2010
- To finance this reduction by means released by the reduction of the debt
- To mobilise firstly the governments led by social democratic parties
- To involve other European countries - To involve the IMF and the World Bank
- To join efforts with the ONGs
3. The framework
The meeting in Africa of the second SI Council of 2000.
Stopping violence against women
This task involves both men and women. We need to get away from the idea that this is a women’s problem and that they are the only ones who need to deal with it. It is a human, social and political problem of the first order which requires the commitment as well as the explicit and specific presence of men.
To launch a campaign such as the one planned by the Socialist International on a matter which is already the subject of many NGO campaigns as well as government action, it is essential to establish:
- The specific value which the Socialist International can bring as a political organisation.
- The tools to be used.
- The content.
- The action.
The specific value of an SI campaign
This problem is already being dealt with by many NGOs all over the world and has been the subject of social and government action in many countries. The specific nature of our campaign stems from the type of organisation setting it in motion: a worldwide political organisation of men and women which is in power in many countries (and is therefore able to legislate) and in opposition in other countries. Our organisation, in any case, has access to major international bodies (United Nations, ILO, OSCE, European Union, etc.) and is firmly rooted in society and maintains close contacts with women’s NGOs and various other movements.
The campaign tools must be the following:
1. The member parties themselves, with which we need to intensify communication on this matter.
2. Governments in countries where we are in power by means of integral plans, legal and legislative measures, etc.
3. Communication media.
4. Socialist presence in campaigns run by other institutions, NGOs, etc.
Must be based on three main ideas:
1. Women’s rights are human rights.
2. Violence against women is a negation of democracy. Violence against women: a question of State.
3. Zero tolerance on violence against women.
1. A general awareness-building campaign (activities to be carried out by parties, institutions, governments and the media). We need to base action on simple content, using posters as well as visible signs (ribbons, taking part in a specific day of action, major musical events, etc.).
2. Direct political action aimed at international bodies (international treaties, participation in conventions, etc.).
3. Actions aimed at developing tools to gather knowledge and aid reflection (Universities, Foundation, Study Groups, etc.). Making contact with universities which are dealing with this matter and trying to create a "pooling of ideas" on this issue.
Fixing the 25 November 2000 as ‘World Day Against Violence’ to launch the campaign.
Prepare an event focused on the campaign.
Initial working method
1. Study and analysis of existing campaigns.
2. Charting our campaign, its aims and the various activities.
3. Consultation with campaigning experts.
4. Planning of concrete actions, their duration and assessment methods.
5. Drawing up of a political Manifesto to be put to a vote at an SI Council meeting and to include specific undertakings on the part of all parties.
Abolishing the death penalty
The Socialist International is committed to assuming all necessary political initiatives in order to take on again and to relaunch, within the United Nations, the European Union resolution which provides for a moratorium of the death penalty, with a view to its total abolition.
The Socialist International asserts, in the face of terrible conflicts and horrible suffering of civil populations, the importance of the realisation of a new international law of human rights based on a new equilibrium between the principle of national sovereignty and the principle of the protection of fundamental human rights.
In this context, the Socialist International highlights the importance of a necessary reform of the UN and its instruments, by the insertion in chapter 7 of the Charter of the United Nations of an explicit reference to the principle of international intervention, with its procedures and spheres of application, in case of manifest massive violations of human rights.
We thus consider this proposal as the first and meaningful step towards the definition of rules and decision-making powers able to guarantee coherence, universality and full legitimacy to the principle of humanitarian intervention.
In that context we support the constitution of the International Penal Court.