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Towards an Economic System That Works for People and the Planet

A civil society statement on the G20 summit from IPS Director John Cavanagh and coalition members.
 
 
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On November 15, the leaders of 20 nations and the major multilateral financial institutions will gather behind closed doors in Washington to discuss the future of the global economy. Led by outgoing U.S. President George W. Bush, this group includes many of the people, governments, and institutions whose policies are responsible for the current financial meltdown. As such, we believe they are the wrong group to be charged with reworking global economic rules and institutions. The world needs a process that is much more inclusive of other nations and the peoples of those nations.

This statement begins to sketch an agenda for change that would resolve the crisis by putting people and the planet first. It starts from the experiences of groups and communities around the world. It speaks to a financial meltdown triggered in the very heart of the globalized capitalist economy that has combined with the growing crises of climate chaos and hunger, and that now reaches into every corner of the planet. This new crisis of predatory and unregulated "casino capitalism" is destroying jobs, lives and livelihoods, while wreaking havoc on currencies and stock markets around the world. It has taken resources from the many, while concentrating wealth in the hands of the few.

To date, governments have largely responded by spending more than one trillion dollars bailing out private financial institutions and corporations. Meanwhile, the crushing needs of communities, ordinary citizens and fragile ecosystems have been largely ignored.

Now is the time to learn from this experience and from the consequences and devastating impacts of other recent crises, such as the debt crisis unleashed in 1982 and the financial crises in Mexico (1994-95), Asia (1997-98), Russia (1998), and Argentina (1999-2002). History continues to repeat itself. This pattern, culminating in the current global crisis, demonstrates quite definitively that a real transformation of the system is required.

New rules and institutions should be created in an open and inclusive process of dialogue. They should be based on a new set of principles to guide economic activity. We offer an overview of those principles and an outline of new rules and institutions.

1. We need a new set of principles to support new national, regional and global financial institutions. The following principles should underpin new rules and institutions:

• Economic democracy and equity, including the development of local economies, and community control and protection of water, seeds, genes, air, communal lands, fisheries, and other "commons";

• ecological sustainability and environmental justice, including promoting long term, productive green investment;

• the fulfillment, protection, and promotion of all human rights, including the right to food, air, and water, and the rights of workers, small-hold food producers, rural and urban communities, indigenous peoples, women, children, and the elderly;

• gender, racial, ethnic and intergenerational justice and equality;

• self-determination and sovereignty of peoples and nations; and

• non-interference, mutual cooperation, complementarity and solidarity.

On the basis of such principles, finance should be aimed at and linked to strengthening national and local real economies to meet the requirement of sustainable and equitable development. And governments should support innovative new regional financial bodies such as the South Bank in South America, which has the potential to serve the needs of those regions more effectively than the IMF and World Bank. Regional emergency funds are also needed to help ensure the food and energy sovereignty of nations.

2. Enough with market fundamentalism: The world doesn't need another "Washington Consensus." The so-called "Washington Consensus" that has preached deregulation, privatization, the over-leveraging of banks, and trade and capital liberalization over the past 30 years has been extremely damaging to workers, communities and the environment. It is discredited and should be officially abandoned. It should not be replaced with any new "one-size-fits-all" dogma.

Rich world leaders and institutions not only promoted the frenzy of deregulation and privatization in their own countries, but pushed it on developing countries through aid and loan conditionality. As they mobilize trillions of dollars to clean up the mess at home, they must do their fair share to redress the devastating impacts of their mistakes on the South. This should include cancellation of all unsustainable and illegitimate debts claimed from countries of the South and restitution and restoration of the social and ecological debts owed to peoples of the South. These resources, together with the rapid and full disbursement of previously scheduled aid increases, should be provided free of macroeconomic and structural conditions. The right of all countries to define their own paths toward sustainable and healthy economies must be respected. The onerous conditions attached to existing aid, loan, and debt-reduction programs should be removed before they do further damage.

3. Curb the power of the IMF, World Bank, and WTO: The present crisis has again demonstrated how we are all impacted by three powerful global institutions whose policies have been instrumental in its creation: the IMF, World Bank, and the WTO. Nonetheless, much of the current debate among financial institutions and governments involves giving them enhanced roles. The WTO, for example, continues to press for further deregulation and privatization of the financial sector, principally through its General Agreement on Trade in Services. For individual countries and the global community to adopt critical new regulations of the financial sector, not only should the WTO's current Doha Round be suspended, but also existing WTO rules constraining regulation of financial services should be rolled back. Likewise, efforts by the IMF and World Bank to expand their influence as a result of the financial, climate, energy and food crises should be rejected. Furthermore, global, regional and national economic governance institutions must be democratic and accountable to the women and men they are supposed to serve.

4. Regulate the global economy effectively: Governments should take immediate action to develop a new international regulatory architecture with democratic checks and balances that is aimed at promoting the interests of workers, small-hold farmers, consumers, and the environment and preventing future financial crises; the United Nations should play a central role in its development. This should cover not just banks but also the parallel and under-regulated financial system, including hedge funds and private equity funds. Some first steps should include regulating derivatives, stopping speculation on staple food commodities, applying stricter international capital reserve requirements, a speculation tax on international transactions, closing tax havens, and stronger transparency rules. Governments will also need to renegotiate the dozens of free-trade agreements and bilateral investment treaties that currently ban governments from placing controls on capital flows and applying other sensible conditions to foreign investment and other financial transactions.

Such steps are possible and many more will be needed to build a truly just global economic system that works for people everywhere, local communities, and the environment. This is the change that the world needs and for which we will continue to struggle.

Signatories (526 total: 211 organizations from 52 countries and 315 individuals):

International and Regional Organizations (10)

1. ActionAid International, Johannesburg, South

2. Africa

3. Africa Jubilee South

4. CADTM International Network (Com. para la Anulación de la Deuda)

5. Comité Ejecutivo Regional Asamblea de los Pueblos del Caribe

6. European Solidarity Towards Equal Participation (EUROSTEP)

7. Jubilee South

8. JUBILEO SUR / AMÉRICAS

9. Social Watch

10. South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE)

African Organizations (10)

11. EHRCEPA (Ethiopian HHRR and Civic Education..), Ethiopia

12. African Women's Development and Communication Network, Kenya

13. Kenya Adult Learners' Association, Kenya

14. Kenya Debt Relief Network - KENDREN, Kenya

15. Labour, Health and Human Rights Development Center, Nigeria

16. Centre for Civil Society Economic Justice Project, South Africa

17. Network of Ugandan Researchers and Research Users (NURRU), Uganda

18. Daughters of Mumbi Global Resource Center, Kenya

19. African Forum on Alternatives, Senegal

20. ARCADE, Senegal

Asia-Pacific Organizations (37)

21. Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET), Australia

22. Foundation for National Renewal, Australia

23. Jubilee Australia, Australia

24. BanglaPraxis, Bangladesh

25. Equity and Justice Working Group (EquityBd), Bangladesh

26. Unnayan Dhara Trust, Bangladesh

27. Humanist Association of Hong Kong, China

28. Public Services Committee, HKCTU, China

29. All India Bank Emp Association (AIBEA), India

30. Alternatives Asia, India

31. Bharatiya Krishak Samaj, India

32. IT For Change, India

33. Public Agenda, India

34. Anti Debt Coalition (KAU), Indonesia

35. Cakrawala Timur, Indonesia

36. Cindelaras paritrana Foundation, Indonesia

37. IMPARSIAL - Indonesian Human Rights Monitor, Indonesia

38. International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID), Indonesia

39. LSM Bismi, Indonesia

40. Jubilee Kansai Network, Japan

41. Himalayan & Peninsular Hydro-Ecological Network (HYPHEN), Nepal

42. Least Developed Countries Watch (LDC Watch), Nepal

43. Nepal Policy Institute - NPI, Nepal

44. Rural Reconstruction Nepal (RRN), Nepal

45. Water & Energy Users' Federation-Nepal (WAFED, Nepal

46. creed, Pakistan

47. Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), Philippines

48. Foundation for Media Alternatives, Philippines

49. Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment, Philippines

50. Philippine Indigenous People's Links (PIPLINKS), Philippines

51. Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement - PRRM, Philippines

52. Social Watch Philippines

53. Women's March Against Poverty and Globalization (WELGA!), Philippines

54. Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform ( MONLAR), Sri Lanka

55. Focus on the Global South, Thailand

56. Local Talk Project, Thailand

57. Social Agenda Working Group, Thailand

58. Center for Encounters and Active Non-Violence, Austria

European Organizations (68)

59. Attac Austria, Austria

60. ECA Watch Austria, Austria

61. 11.11.11- Coalition of the Flemish North-South Movement, Belgium

62. European Network on Debt and Development (EURODAD), Belgium

63. Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation, Bulgaria

64. Pancyprian Public Employees Trade Union - PASYDY, Cyprus

65. Finnish NGDO platform to the EU, Finland

66. Attac France, France

67. Les Amis de la Terre, France

68. Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst (EED), Germany

69. Global Policy Forum Europe, Germany

70. terre des hommes Germany, Germany

71. The Hunger Project-Germany, Germany

72. URGEWALD, Germany

73. Attac-Hellas, Greece

74. Greek Forum of Migrants, Greece

75. One Earth, Greece

76. Anthropolis, Hungary

77. Debt and Development Coalition Ireland, Ireland

78. Kimmage Development Studies Center, Ireland

79. ARCI, Italy

80. Campagna per la Riforma della Banca Mondiale, Italy

81. Campagna per la riforma della Banca mondiale (CRBM), Italy

82. Fair, Italy

83. Federazione Italiana Metalmeccanici FIM-CISL, Italy

84. Transform! Italia, Italy

85. Kopin (Koperazzjoni Internazzjonali) Malta, Malta

86. Tax Justice NL, Netherlands

87. Transnational Institute (TNI), Netherlands

88. SOBREVIVENCIA, Amigos de la Tierra Paraguay, Paraguay

89. Network of East-West Women, NEWW (Polska), Poland

90. Association for the Development of the Romanian Social Forum, Romania

91. Civil Society Development Foundation, Romania

92. Romanian Social Forum, Romania

93. ACSUR - Las Segovias, Spain

94. Área de Justicia y Solidaridad de CONFER, Spain

95. Asamblea verde, Spain

96. Asociación Ecologista Solidaria"Kima Berdea", Spain

97. Asociación Nexos, Spain

98. Associacio Audiovisual Debitas, Spain

99. Attac España, Spain

100. Attac Galicia, Spain

101. CEPAC (Asoc. d'Educació en DDHH i de Prevenció de Conflict), Spain

102. Comitè de Solidaritat amb els Pobles Indigenes d´ Amèrica, Spain

103. Comunidad Carmelitas de Vedruna, Spain

104. ECO DESARROLLO, Spain

105. Ecologistas en Acción, Spain

106. Fed. Humanista Centro de las Culturas, Spain

107. Fondo de Solidaridad, Spain

108. Fundació Quepo, Spain

109. HUACAL (Solidaritat amb el Salvador), Spain

110. Icaria Editorial, Spain

111. Jesús Santamaría, Spain

112. Mundo sin Guerras (Marcha Mundial por la Paz y la No Violencia), Spain

113. Observatori del Deute en la Globalització, Spain

114. Periódico digital El Guanche, Spain

115. Plataforma 2015 y más, Spain

116. unaymedia, Spain

117. Alliance Sud, Switzerland

118. Terre des Hommes International Federation, Switzerland

119. Bretton Woods Project, United Kingdom

120. Fahamu - Networks for Social Justice, United Kingdom

121. Foundation for Gaia, United Kingdom

122. Jubilee Debt Campaign, United Kingdom

123. Jubilee Scotland, United Kingdom

124. MEDACT, United Kingdom

125. War on Want, United Kingdom

126. World Development Movement, United Kingdom

Latin America and Caribbean Organizations (29)

127. Ecoportal.Net, Argentina

128. FOCO - Foro Ciudadano de Participación por la Justicia y los Der, Argentina

129. FUNDACION DA VINCI, Argentina

130. Centro de Estudios para el Desarrollo Laboral y Agrario - CEDLA, Bolivia

131. Centro de Mujeres Aymaras Candelaria, Bolivia

132. Fundación Solón, Bolivia

133. Radio Emisora Saywani, Bolivia

134. Red de Comunicaciones Apachita, Bolivia

135. IBASE, Brazil

136. Asoc. Inmigrantes por la Integración Latinoamericana (Apila), Chile

137. Centro de Estudios para el Desarrollo de la Mujer (CEDEM), Chile

138. Chile Sustentable, Chile

139. Asoc. De Fomento De Integracion De Las Negritudes, Colombia

140. Instituto Latinoamericano Servicios Legales Alternativos (ILSA), Colombia

141. Instituto FRONESIS, Ecuador

142. SERPAJ Ecuador, Ecuador

143. PAPDA, Haiti

144. Colectivo Parlamentario Partido Unificaciòn Democratica, Honduras

145. Americas Policy Program, Mexico

146. CACTUS-Oaxaca, Mexico

147. México nación Multicultural -UNAM- Oaxaca, Mexico

148. Federacion Nacional de Trabajadores del Agua Potable del Peru, Peru

149. Comité de apoyo al Llamado Mundial de Acción contra la Pobreza, Perú

150. Food and Water Watch Latin America, Uruguay

151. ICAE, Uruguay

152. Instituto del Tercer Mundo - ITeM, Uruguay

153. International Council for Adult Education - ICAE, Uruguay

154. REDES - Amigos de la Tierra Uruguay, Uruguay

155. Asamblea Popular Revolucionaria de Caracas (APR), Venezuela

Middle East/North African Organizations (2)

156. El Amel Association for Social Development, Algeria

157. Forum des Alternatives Maroc, Morocco

North American Organizations (54)

158. African Reform Group, Canada

159. ATTAC-Québec, Canada

160. centre des femmes, Canada

161. Centre justice et foi, Canada

162. Common Frontiers-Canada, Canada

163. Femmes Entre-Elles, Canada

164. Halifax Initiative Coalition, Canada

165. Sudanese Calgarian Community Centre, Canada

166. TROVEP Estrie, Canada

167. Africa Action, United States

168. African American Environmentalist Association (AAEA), United States

169. Alliance for Democracy, United States

170. Anglican Consultative Council, United States

171. Bangladesh Development Research Center (BDRC), United States

172. Bay Area Labor Committee for Peace & Justice, United States

173. Center of Concern (COC), United States

174. Colombians For Sovereignty, ASOCOL, United States

175. Columban Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office, United States

176. Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, United States

177. Congregations of St. Joseph, United States

178. Democratic Socialists of America, United States

179. Essential Action, United States

180. Food First, United States

181. Foreign Policy In Focus, United States

182. Friends of the Earth-US, United States

183. Gender Action, United States

184. Global Policy Forum, United States

185. Hal F. Keene, United States

186. Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, United States

187. Institute for Policy Studies, Global Economy Project, United States

188. International Accountability Project, United States

189. International Forum on Globalization, United States

190. International Labor Rights Forum, United States

191. International Women's Anthropology Conference, United States

192. Jubilee Montana Network, United States

193. Jubilee USA Network, United States

194. Marin Interfaith Task Force on the Americas, United States

195. Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, United States

196. Missionary Oblates, United States

197. National Family Farm Coalition, United States

198. New Rules for Global Finance Coalition, United States

199. Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment, United States

200. People-Centered Development Forum, United States

201. Planning Alternatives for Change LLC, United States

202. Quixote Center, United States

203. Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, United States

204. Sisters of St. Joseph, United States

205. Transafrica Forum, United States

206. Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment, United States

207. United Church of Christ Network for Environmental & Economic Res, United States

208. United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society, United States

209. USAction, United States

210. Wheaton Franciscans, United States

211. Witness for Peace, United States

Individual Signatories (315): For a full list, see: http://www.choike.org/bw2/listado_conf.php