Declaration "SADC We want: acting together -­ ensuring accountability!" (9th Southern Africa Civil Society Forum)

Author: Ilene Grabel
Working Paper, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts, malady
June 2012

Abstract:

The current crisis is proving to be productive of institutional experimentation in the realm of financial architecture(s) in the developing world. The drive toward experimentation arose out of the East Asian financial crisis of 1997?98, which provoked some developing countries to take steps to insulate themselves from future turbulence, IMF sanctions, and intrusions into policy space. I argue that there are diverse, unambiguous indications that the global financial architecture is now evolving in ways that contribute to a new institutional heterogeneity. In some policy and institutional innovations we see the emergence of financial architecture that is far less US- and IMF?centric than has been the norm over the past several decades. Moreover, the growing economic might, self? confidence and assertiveness on the part of policymakers in some developing countries (and, at the same time, the attendant uncertainties surrounding the economies of the USA and Europe) is disrupting the traditional modes of financial governance and dispersing power across the global financial system.

In making these arguments it is important not to overstate the case. It is far too early to be certain that lasting, radical changes in the global financial architecture are afoot, or that the developments now underway are secure. Nor am I arguing that all regions of the developing world either enjoy the opportunity and/or have the means to participate in the process of reshaping the global financial architecture. Rather, my goal is more modest. I show here that today there are numerous opportunities for policy and institutional experimentation, and there are clear signs that these opportunities are being exploited in a variety of distinct ways. As compared to any other moment over the last several decades, we see clear signs of fissures, realignments and institutional changes in the structures of financial governance across the global South. I have elsewhere characterized this current state of affairs as one of “productive incoherence.” I use this term to capture the proliferation of institutional innovations and policy responses that have been given impetus by the crisis, and the ways in which the current crisis has started to erode the stifling neo?liberal consensus that has secured and deepened neo?liberalism across the developing world over the past several decades.

The productive incoherence of the current crisis is apparent in the emergence of a denser, multi-layered and more heterogeneous Southern financial architecture. The current crisis has induced a broadening of the mission and reach of some existing regional, sub?regional, bilateral, and national financial institutions and arrangements, and has stimulated discussions of entirely new arrangements. In some limited cases these institutions and arrangements substitute for the Bretton Woods institutions. This substitution is most pronounced in cases when the Bretton Woods institutions have failed or have been slow to respond to calls for support, or when they have responded to such requests with conditionality that has been overly constraining of national policy space. But in most cases, the institutions and arrangements that I discuss here complement the global financial architecture. I will argue in what follows that recent changes in the Southern financial landscape increase its potential to promote financial stability and resilience, support the development of long-run productive capacities, advance aims consistent with human development, and expand national policy space. Moreover, the emergence of a vibrant Southern financial architecture is not simply additive. Rather it may prove transformative, insofar as the Bretton Woods institutions are pushed to respond to long?standing concerns regarding their legitimacy, governance, and conditionalities.

 

 

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By Tjiurimo Hengari

 

The 19th summit of the African Union (AU) from 9-16 July in Addis Ababa will in all likelihood not be ordinary, purchase as it will mark a decade since the transformation of the Organisation for African Unity (OAU) into the AU in 2002 in Durban, South Africa. Crucially, ten years on, the July summit theme ‘Boosting Intra-African Trade’ captures a new agenda and the importance of economic growth and trade integration as essential aspects in the continent’s integration in the global economy.

While the OAU manifestly fulfilled its role and historical mandate of decolonisation, the vision and mandate of the AU is largely premised on development, including economic and political integration of the African continent. In light of this developmental premise and emphasis in its Constitutive Act, which entered into force on May 26, 2002, the AU represents a major shift from the legal, political and institutional framework of its predecessor.

With the summit looming, it is fitting to debate and reflect how this organization has fared a decade on, both in light of its promise of new principles, new thinking, including new approaches to African challenges and governance. These principles and approaches seek to capture on a wide continuum, the nexus between democracy, good governance on the one hand, and on the other Africa’s economic development and integration in the global economy.

Looking back: Ten years since the foundation of the AU

Over the past decade, international relations have gone through profound change. The rise of emerging powers, including China and Brazil have led to a momentous shift, creating new opportunities and threats in Africa’s engagement in international affairs. The global economic contraction in Europe, which started with the global financial crisis in late 2007, has altered the traditional relationship Africa had with key western powers. It has opened Africa’s commodity economies to possible shocks, thus forcing African leaders to accelerate trade integration on the continent, while seeking new partnerships in the developing world.    

On governance, it should be mentioned that the majority of Africa’s 54 states are to varying degrees democratic. There have been slow but steady developments with regard to forms and shapes of democratic governance.

The African Union, for instance, has taken an explicit decision not to recognise countries in which civilian governments have been overthrown by a coup d’état. Also, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), flowing out of the New Economic Partnership for Development (NEPAD) has as its explicit rationale the strengthening of democracies and the accountability mechanisms within it. In Côte d’Ivoire, a democratically elected president finally assumed office in 2011 after a decade of political deadlock and civil strive. In one of Africa’s more or less stable democracies, Senegal, a head of state seeking a de facto third term lost an election early this year and accepted defeat graciously.

Significant progress has been made in creating the institutional infrastructure and processes that are necessary for a more efficient African Union. In addition to these, the African Union has been undertaking crucial peacekeeping missions in various parts of Africa, including Burundi, Sudan and Somalia. The modest successes of these missions can be attributed to good foreign policy collaboration and momentum between Africa’s driver countries, including Senegal, South Africa, Nigeria and Algeria.

However, as the years wore on, this momentum, also visible in the conceptualisation of Nepad and the APRM seems to have been lost. Moreover, the absence of a coherent state-led, but widely accepted AU approach with regard to conflict resolution and management has created a vacuum in what the AU can do as an institution.  

From an institutional viewpoint, relationships and coordinating mechanisms across diverse issue-areas have been built with various international organisations, including the United Nations and the European Union. Moreover, through the African Union, various attempts had been made with regard to streamlining the activities of regional organisations and economic communities in line with the objectives of the African Union.

Even if modest in their successes, interventions and the legitimisation of the AU’s cross-cutting agenda have allowed Africa to focus on the key challenges of governance, education and economic growth. These have without doubt legitimised the AU as the principal interlocutor in African affairs, worth strengthening.

It deserves mention, however, that the AU is still a work in progress and the past decade of its existence did not mask contradictions between what the AU ambitiously purports to be on the one hand, and the structural and institutional impasse in which it finds itself when it comes to achieving Africa’s developmental aims on the other. A continental institution is a sum of its composite parts. Therefore, it can only be efficient if the constituting membership allows it to function in line with its charter – thereby assuming and building its own institutional dynamism and organisational efficiency.

In light of these challenges, the roadmap that emerges out of the upcoming summit in Addis ought to be transformational and should crucially define the aspirations of the African Union for the next ten years. It will be a missed opportunity if it turns out to be just another summit.

Three Areas for Attention

Three aspects ought to enjoy specific attention. First, in line with its theme the summit should put explicit emphasis on the translation of modest democratic governance into concrete developmental deliverables in African countries. Even if economic growth has been positive over the past decade in many countries, this has not put a dent on widespread poverty and underdevelopment. This does suggest new bridges to be built between African driver countries as a means to bring renewed impetus to Africa’s developmental agenda and coordinated engagement with international actors on economic, environmental and social developmental issues.

Second, more attention should be placed than what has been otherwise the case thus far on the strengthening of regional economic communities as essential anchors in matters of peace, security and development. The past ten years have shown that regional organisations are the best platforms to promote peace, security and development.

As a case in point, under difficult circumstances, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had undertaken commendable work in the promotion of peace in that troubled region. The AU should reinforce such successes by playing a facilitator role based on clearly defined values, norms and objectives. For this to happen, the institutional capacity of the African Union should be strengthened, with more powers devolved to the Commission. A strengthened Commission would allow the institution to develop a coercive soft-power role, while giving it a much more active character in the diffusion of agreed continental norms and objectives.

Third, with the anomaly of two candidates, one from a small country, Jean Ping of Gabon and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma from a big country, South Africa contesting the chairmanship of the AU commission, the summit should provide clear guidelines and principles around leadership of the Commission.

Conclusion

In conclusion, vague and ambitious declarations are less likely to create a more solid African Union as a pivot in Africa’s integration in the global economy. Much of what emerges out of Addis depends on how pragmatic and programmatic the vision of the AU is going forward. African leaders should leave the summit with clearly defined, but manageable outcomes, creating a new dynamic that would address Africa’s chronic challenges.

Tjiurimo HENGARI is the Head of the South African Foreign Poliy and African Drivers Programme at the South African Institute of International Affairs, based at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

 

Source: SAIIA

By Tjiurimo Hengari

 

The 19th summit of the African Union (AU) from 9-16 July in Addis Ababa will in all likelihood not be ordinary, as it will mark a decade since the transformation of the Organisation for African Unity (OAU) into the AU in 2002 in Durban, South Africa. Crucially, ten years on, the July summit theme ‘Boosting Intra-African Trade’ captures a new agenda and the importance of economic growth and trade integration as essential aspects in the continent’s integration in the global economy.

While the OAU manifestly fulfilled its role and historical mandate of decolonisation, the vision and mandate of the AU is largely premised on development, including economic and political integration of the African continent. In light of this developmental premise and emphasis in its Constitutive Act, which entered into force on May 26, 2002, the AU represents a major shift from the legal, political and institutional framework of its predecessor.

With the summit looming, it is fitting to debate and reflect how this organization has fared a decade on, both in light of its promise of new principles, new thinking, including new approaches to African challenges and governance. These principles and approaches seek to capture on a wide continuum, the nexus between democracy, good governance on the one hand, and on the other Africa’s economic development and integration in the global economy.

Looking back: Ten years since the foundation of the AU

Over the past decade, international relations have gone through profound change. The rise of emerging powers, including China and Brazil have led to a momentous shift, creating new opportunities and threats in Africa’s engagement in international affairs. The global economic contraction in Europe, which started with the global financial crisis in late 2007, has altered the traditional relationship Africa had with key western powers. It has opened Africa’s commodity economies to possible shocks, thus forcing African leaders to accelerate trade integration on the continent, while seeking new partnerships in the developing world.    

On governance, it should be mentioned that the majority of Africa’s 54 states are to varying degrees democratic. There have been slow but steady developments with regard to forms and shapes of democratic governance.

The African Union, for instance, has taken an explicit decision not to recognise countries in which civilian governments have been overthrown by a coup d’état. Also, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), flowing out of the New Economic Partnership for Development (NEPAD) has as its explicit rationale the strengthening of democracies and the accountability mechanisms within it. In Côte d’Ivoire, a democratically elected president finally assumed office in 2011 after a decade of political deadlock and civil strive. In one of Africa’s more or less stable democracies, Senegal, a head of state seeking a de facto third term lost an election early this year and accepted defeat graciously.

Significant progress has been made in creating the institutional infrastructure and processes that are necessary for a more efficient African Union. In addition to these, the African Union has been undertaking crucial peacekeeping missions in various parts of Africa, including Burundi, Sudan and Somalia. The modest successes of these missions can be attributed to good foreign policy collaboration and momentum between Africa’s driver countries, including Senegal, South Africa, Nigeria and Algeria.

However, as the years wore on, this momentum, also visible in the conceptualisation of Nepad and the APRM seems to have been lost. Moreover, the absence of a coherent state-led, but widely accepted AU approach with regard to conflict resolution and management has created a vacuum in what the AU can do as an institution.  

From an institutional viewpoint, relationships and coordinating mechanisms across diverse issue-areas have been built with various international organisations, including the United Nations and the European Union. Moreover, through the African Union, various attempts had been made with regard to streamlining the activities of regional organisations and economic communities in line with the objectives of the African Union.

Even if modest in their successes, interventions and the legitimisation of the AU’s cross-cutting agenda have allowed Africa to focus on the key challenges of governance, education and economic growth. These have without doubt legitimised the AU as the principal interlocutor in African affairs, worth strengthening.

It deserves mention, however, that the AU is still a work in progress and the past decade of its existence did not mask contradictions between what the AU ambitiously purports to be on the one hand, and the structural and institutional impasse in which it finds itself when it comes to achieving Africa’s developmental aims on the other. A continental institution is a sum of its composite parts. Therefore, it can only be efficient if the constituting membership allows it to function in line with its charter – thereby assuming and building its own institutional dynamism and organisational efficiency.

In light of these challenges, the roadmap that emerges out of the upcoming summit in Addis ought to be transformational and should crucially define the aspirations of the African Union for the next ten years. It will be a missed opportunity if it turns out to be just another summit.

Three Areas for Attention

Three aspects ought to enjoy specific attention. First, in line with its theme the summit should put explicit emphasis on the translation of modest democratic governance into concrete developmental deliverables in African countries. Even if economic growth has been positive over the past decade in many countries, this has not put a dent on widespread poverty and underdevelopment. This does suggest new bridges to be built between African driver countries as a means to bring renewed impetus to Africa’s developmental agenda and coordinated engagement with international actors on economic, environmental and social developmental issues.

Second, more attention should be placed than what has been otherwise the case thus far on the strengthening of regional economic communities as essential anchors in matters of peace, security and development. The past ten years have shown that regional organisations are the best platforms to promote peace, security and development.

As a case in point, under difficult circumstances, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had undertaken commendable work in the promotion of peace in that troubled region. The AU should reinforce such successes by playing a facilitator role based on clearly defined values, norms and objectives. For this to happen, the institutional capacity of the African Union should be strengthened, with more powers devolved to the Commission. A strengthened Commission would allow the institution to develop a coercive soft-power role, while giving it a much more active character in the diffusion of agreed continental norms and objectives.

Third, with the anomaly of two candidates, one from a small country, Jean Ping of Gabon and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma from a big country, South Africa contesting the chairmanship of the AU commission, the summit should provide clear guidelines and principles around leadership of the Commission.

Conclusion

In conclusion, vague and ambitious declarations are less likely to create a more solid African Union as a pivot in Africa’s integration in the global economy. Much of what emerges out of Addis depends on how pragmatic and programmatic the vision of the AU is going forward. African leaders should leave the summit with clearly defined, but manageable outcomes, creating a new dynamic that would address Africa’s chronic challenges.

Tjiurimo HENGARI is the Head of the South African Foreign Poliy and African Drivers Programme at the South African Institute of International Affairs, based at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

 

 

9th Southern Africa Civil Society Forum (10-14 August 2013, link
Lilongwe, Malawi)

Representatives of civil society organizations from across the Southern Africa Region, met under the auspices of the Fellowship of Christian Councils of Southern Africa (FOCCISA), Southern Africa Development Community – Council of Non-Governmental Organizations (SADC-­?CNGO) and the Southern Africa Trade Union Coordination Council (SATUCC) between the 11th to the 14th of August 2013 at the 9th Southern Africa Civil Society Forum issue this statement to the SADC Heads of State and Government Summit scheduled for the 17th?18th August 2013.

Read the Declaration “SADC We want: acting together -­ ensuring accountability!

The themes covered in the Declaration include:

– GOVERNANCE & ACCOUNTABILITY

* On Democratic Elections

* On Governance

* On Peace and Security

* On Countries

– TOWARDS AN INTEGRATED REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK

* On Finance for Development

* On Trade and Decent Work

– TAKING FORWARD SADC WE WANT CAMPAIGN

– SOCIAL AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
* On Poverty & Development

* On Climate Change

* On Social Protection

* On HIV and AIDS

* On Land and Natural Resources

* On Gender

* On Indigenous Peoples

* On Water

* On child rights

Another road for Europe: Forum at the European Parliament

Europe is in crisis because it has been hijacked by neoliberalism and finance. In the last twenty years – with a persistent democratic deficit – the meaning of the European Union has increasingly been reduced to a narrow view of the single market and the single currency, dosage leading to liberalisations and speculative bubbles, loss of rights and the explosion of inequalities.

 

This is not the Europe that was imagined decades ago as a space of economic and political integration free from war. This is not the Europe that was built through economic and social progress, the extension of democracy and welfare rights.

 

This European project is now in danger.

 

Facing the financial crisis, European authorities and governments have acted irresponsibly; they saved private banks but refused to contain the difficulties of indebted countries using the tools of the Monetary Union; they imposed on all countries austerity policies and cuts in public budgets that will now be enshrined in European Treaties. The results are that the financial crisis has extended to more countries, the euro is in danger, a new great depression and the risk of disintegration of Europe are looming.

 

Europe can survive only if another road is taken. Another Europe is possible. Europe has to mean social justice, environmental responsibility, democracy and peace. This is what the larger part of Europe’s culture and society yearns for. This is the way indicated by justice movements, mobilisations for dignity and against austerity policies. But it is the sort of Europe that has been ignored by dominant political forces in Europe. This other Europe is not a new superstate nor is it another intergovernmental bureaucracy. A form of democratic governance for Europe is needed if we are to address the global challenges that nation-states are not able to manage.

 

Along the road to another Europe, visions of change, protest and alternatives have to be woven into a common framework. We propose six objectives.

 

A smaller finance. Finance – at the root of the crisis – should be prevented from destroying the economy. The Monetary Union should be reorganised and provide a collective guarantee for the public debt of eurozone countries; the European Central Bank should become the Union’s lender of last resort. The burden of debt cannot be allowed to destroy countries in financial difficulty. All financial transactions have to be taxed, imbalances resulting from capital movements need be reduced, stricter regulations should ban the more speculative and risky financial activities, the division between commercial and investment banks has to be restored, a European public rating agency should be created.

 

More integrated economic policies. Europe needs to move past old and new Stability Pacts, beyond policies limited to the single market and the single currency. Europe’s actions need to address imbalances in the real economy and the direction of development. Deep changes in taxation systems are needed, with a tax harmonization in Europe and a shift in taxation from labour to wealth and non-renewable resources, with new revenues to fund European spending.

 

Public expenditure – at national and European levels – should be used to stimulate demand, defend welfare policies, extend public services. Industrial and innovation policies have to orient production and consumption towards high-skill, high-quality, sustainable activities. Eurobonds should be introduced not just to refinance public debt, but to fund the ecological conversion of Europe’s economy.

 

More jobs and labour rights, less inequality. Labour rights and welfare are at the core of the meaning of Europe. After decades of policies that have created precarious jobs, poverty and unemployment, bringing inequality back to the levels of the 1930s, the priority for Europe is the creation of stable, high wage jobs – especially for women and youth – supporting low incomes and protecting trade union rights, collective bargaining and democracy at the workplace.

 

Protecting the environment. Sustainability, the green economy, energy and resource efficiency are the new meaning of Europe’s growth. All policies need to take into account environmental effects, reduce climate change and the use of non-renewable resources, favouring clean, renewable energies, energy efficiency, local production, sobriety in consumption.

 

Practising democracy. The forms of representative democracy through parties and governments – and the social dialogue among organisations representing capital and labour – are less and less able to provide answers to current problems. At European level the common decision-making process is increasingly replaced by the rule of the strongest. The crisis takes legitimacy away from EU institutions; the Commission increasingly acts as a bureaucratic support of the strongest member states, the Central Bank is unaccountable and the European Parliament does not fully use its powers and anyway is still excluded from crucial decisions on economic governance.

 

In past decades, Europe’s citizens have taken centre stage in social mobilisations and in practices of participatory and deliberative democracy – from European Social Forums to the protests of indignados. These experiences need an institutional response. There is the need to overcome the mismatch between social change and political and institutional arrangements that are a remnant of the past.

 

European societies need not be inward-looking. The social and political inclusion of migrants is a key test for Europe’s democracy. Closer ties can be built with the movements for democracy on the Southern shores of the Mediterranean after the downfall of authoritarian regimes.

 

Making peace and upholding human rights. The integration of Europe has made it possible to overcome century-old conflicts, but Europe remains the site of nuclear weapons and aggressive military postures, and European countries still spend one fifth of world military expenditure: 316 billion dollars in 2010. With current budgetary problems, drastic cuts and transformation in military budgets are urgent. Europe’s peace does not result from projecting military force, but from a policy of human and common security that can contribute to peace and the protection of human rights. Europe has to open up to the new democracies of the Arab world in the same way as it opened up to Central and Eastern Europe after 1989.

 

We propose to bring this agenda for another Europe to the European Parliament and to Europe’s institutions. This new meaning of Europe is already visible in cross-border citizens’ mobilisations, civil society networks, trade union struggles; it has now to shape Europe’s politics and policy-making.

 

Thirty years ago, at the start of the “New Cold War” between East and West, the Appeal for European Nuclear Disarmament launched the idea of a Europe free from military blocs and argued that “we must commence to act as if a united, neutral, pacific Europe already existed”. Now, in the midst of the crisis of finance, markets and bureaucracies, we we must commence to practice an egalitarian, peaceful, green and democratic Europe.

 

 

 

Rossana Rossanda, founder of Il Manifesto

Elmar Altvater, Attac Germany

Samir Amin, World Forum for Alternatives

Philippe Askenazy, CNRS-Paris school of Economics

Zygmunt Bauman, University of Leeds, UK

Seyla Benhabib, Yale University

Donatella Della Porta, European University Institute

Trevor Evans, Euromemorandum and Berlin School of Economics & Law

Luigi Ferrajoli, University of Roma Tre

Nancy Fraser, New School for Social Research, New York

Monica Frassoni, European Green Party

Susan George, honorary president of Attac France, Board President of the Transnational Institute

Paul Ginsborg, University of Florence

Rafael Grasa Hernandez, ICIP, Barcelona

Mary Kaldor, London School of Economics, UK

Thomas Lacoste, filmmaker and publisher, Paris

Dany Lang, Economistes atterrés

Maurizio Landini, secretary of the metalworkers’ union Fiom-Cgil

Jean-Louis Laville, European coordinator, Karl Polanyi Institute of Political Economy

Giulio Marcon, Coordinator of the Sbilanciamoci coalition

Jens Martens, Director, Global Policy Forum Europe

Doreen Massey, Open University and Soundings

Chantal Mouffe, University of Westminster, London

Heikki Patomäki, chair, ATTAC Finland and University of Helsinki

Pascal Petit, Université de Paris 13

Mario Pianta, University of Urbino and Sbilanciamoci

Kari Polanyi Levitt, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

Wolfgang Sachs, Wuppertal Institut, Germany

Saskia Sassen, Columbia University

Andrew Simms, fellow, New Economics Foundation, London

Steffen Stierle, scientific council Attac Germany

Massimo Torelli, Rete@sinistra

Peter Wahl, WEED,World Economy & Development Association, Germany

 

 

 

Vittorio Agnoletto, Freedom Legality And Rights in Europe

Sergio Andreis, Lunaria, Italy

Andrea Baranes, Roma

Marco Bersani, Attac Italia

Matthias Birkwald, Member of the German Parliament, Die Linke

Lothar Bisky, Member of the European Parliament, European United Left /Nordic Green Left, Germany

Raffaella Bolini, Arci, Italy

Luciana Castellina, former member of the European Parliament

Rolf Czezeskleba-Dupont, Roskilde University, Denmark

Pier Virgilio Dastoli, European Federalist Movement

Rosen Dimov, European Alternatives, Bulgaria

Mario Dogliani, University of Turin

Tommaso Fattori, Transform Italia

Renzo Fior, president Emmaus Italia

Maurizio Franzini, Sapienza Università di Roma

Marco Furfaro, Youth policy coordinator, SEL

Francesco Garibaldo, Associazione lavoro e libertà

Francuccio Gesualdi, Center for a new development

Alfonso Gianni, Roma

Chiara Giunti, Rete@sinistra

Thomas Händel, Member of the European Parliament, European United Left /Nordic Green Left, Germany

Keith Hart, University of Pretoria and Goldsmiths, University of London

Peter Hermann, scientific council Attac Germany, University of Cork

Peter Kammerer, University of Urbino

Jan Korte, Member of the German Parliament, Die Linke

Patrick Le Hyaric, Editor of L’Humanité, Member of the European Parliament, European United Left /Nordic Green Left, France

Flavio Lotti, Tavola della Pace, Perugia

Alberto Lucarelli, Commissioner of the City of Naples for the Common goods

Lorenzo Marsili, European Alternatives

Graziella Mascia, Associazione Altramente, Italy

Vilma Mazza, Global project

Luisa Morgantini, former vice-president of the European Parliament

Roberto Musacchio, Roma

Loretta Mussi, Un ponte per, Roma

Jason Nardi, coordinator, Social Watch Italian coalition

Maria Teresa Petrangolini, Active Citizenship Network

Maria Pia Pizzolante, TILT speakperson

Gabriele Polo, former editor, Il Manifesto

Norma Rangeri, editor, Il Manifesto

Angelo Reati, former official of the European Commission, Brussels

Claudio Riccio, Coordinator of student organisations

Gianni Rinaldini, Coordinator of the United for an alternative coalition, Italy

Tania Rispoli, social researcher and activist, Italy

Domenico Rizzuti, Rete@sinistra, Italy

Denis Jaromil Roio, Dyne.org, Free software foundry

Raül Romeva i Rueda, Member of the European Parliament, Green/EFA Group

Raffaele K. Salinari, Terre des Hommes international

Mariana Santos, Lisbon University Institute

Thomas Sauer, scientific council Attac Germany, Fachhochschule Jena.

Patrizia Sentinelli, former deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, Italy

Paul Schäfer, Member of the German Bundestag, Die Linke

Ingo Schmidt, Athabasca University, Canada

Annamaria Simonazzi, University of Rome “La Sapienza”

Claus Thomasberger, HTW Berlin, University of Applied Sciences

Antonio Tricarico, Roma

Guido Viale, environmental expert and activist, Italy

Luigi Vinci, Progetto Lavoro, Italy

Isidor Wallimann, scientific council Attac Germany, Fachhochschule Basel

Frieder Otto Wolf, former Member of the European Paliament, Freie Universität Berlin

Gaby Zimmer, Member of the European Parliament, European United Left /Nordic Green Left, Germany

 

 

 

May 2012

 

 

 

A preliminary version of this appeal was launched by the organisers and speakers of the Florence Forum “The way out. Europe and Italy, economic crisis and democracy”, held on 9 December 2011. The text is the result of extensive discussions with European networks and individuals and groups in many European countries. The text is available in English, Italian, French, German and Spanish. You can sign the Appeal on the website www.anotherroadforeurope.org

 

On June 28, 2012, a Forum on “Another Road for Europe” will be held at the European Parliament in Brussels. For information, support for the Appeal, and participation to the Brussels Forum: anotherroadforeurope@gmail.com – www.anotherroadforeurope.org

 

 

 

The Appeal “Another Road for Europe”

invites civil society organisations, social movements, networks, Trade Unions and political forces

to a one-day discussion at the European Parliament in Brussels

on the ways out of the European crisis.

 

Forum

Another Road for Europe

June 28, 2012, h.9.00 -18.30, European Parliament, Brussels

Place de Luxembourg,

Building Altiero Spinelli, 3rd floor, section G, room n.3 (ASP 3G3).

 

Participant organisations

Active Citizenship Network, Altramente, Arci, Attac France, Attac Germany, Attac Finland,

Corporate Europe Observatory, Economistes Atterrés, Euromemorandum, European Alternatives, European Anti-Poverty Network, European Federalist Movement, Fiom-Cgil, Green European Foundation, il Manifesto, Joint Social Conference, New Economics Foundation, OpenDemocracy.net, Red Pepper, Rete@sinistra, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Sbilanciamoci!, Social Watch Italian coalition, Soundings, Transform! Europe, Transnational Institute

 

Presentation of the event

Many appeals, texts, proposals are being launched about the future of Europe and about the way out of the crisis. The aim of this

event is to contribute to open up a debate at the European level between activists, experts, political forces and policy makers on the viable actions that European and national institutions, political forces and social organisations can take to move beyond neoliberal policies, and towards a sustainable and democratic Europe, free from discriminations and inequalities. This initiative is part of a range of activities that are being organised at the European level on alternatives to the crisis. We propose to organise the meeting around three issues (Macroeconomic policies and finance, Green New Deal and employment, Democracy) and to have a first, informal exchange of views on the most relevant policy proposals, in order to be able to understand which are those around which we could build a common approach and, if possible, future common or coordinated actions. Each session will be introduced by speakers from civil society organisations and experts’ networks who will summarise the proposals that have emerged on each topic, opening up a discussion with activists, representatives of different political forces and Members of the European Parliament. The aim is to contribute to the emergence of shared proposals for alternative policies at the European and national levels. Participants will include a wide range of civil society organisations, networks, Trade Unions, experts and intellectuals, as well as the progressive political forces in the European Parliament.

 

For contacts and information:

anotherroadforeurope@gmail.com – www.anotherroadforeurope.org

 

ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC)/ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (APF) (29‐31 March, 2012 – Cambodia)

A compilation of articles on the Left Debate on the euro-crisis


Articles by

Asbjørn Wahl

Mark Weisbrot

Yanis Varoufakis

Michel Husson

Costas Lapavitsas

Özlem Onaran


Download compilation

As stated by ATTAC “the present form of the European Union is a serious obstacle to democratic achievements, fundamental rights, cheap social security, pharmacy gender justice, and environmental sustainability. It suffers from a lack of democracy, legitimacy, and transparency, and is governed by a set of treaties which force neoliberal policies on member states and the whole world”.

For many years, several European networks of social organisations and movements have worked on alternatives to the neoliberal corporate Europe. The discussion on the other Europe we want is still very much under debate. However, the construction of Another Europe is combined with the daily struggles of European progressive movements, which oppose privatisation and disassembly of public services, Fortress Europe against migrants, weakening of democratic and civil rights and growing repression, trade and investment liberalisation policies, food and agricultural policies that undermine the possibilities for food sovereignty, corporate lobbies, military intervention in external conflicts and military bases, among others.

Some of the networks that contribute towards building an alternative European economic and social model are:

European ATTACs

Network for the Charter for another Europe
Euromemorandum-Group

European Alternatives

The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTEREU)

Seattle To Brussels Network (S2B)

transform!

Women In Development Europe (WIDE)

European Coordination Via Campesina


EVENT WEBSITE http://www.acscapf2012.org


The Civil Society Committee for Organizing ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC)/ ASEAN People’s Forum (APF) 2012, here a committee originated from the Cambodian Civil Society Working Group, wishes to announce that it will organize ACSC/APF Event in full cooperation with the civil society groups in the Association of South East Asian Nations (“ASEAN”) region. This Event will be
held in Cambodia, try while Cambodia is ASEAN chairs ASEAN in 2012. The date of the First phase of ACSC/APF Event in Cambodia will be held from 29th to 31 March 2012. The place will be announced later.

The theme of this year Event is “Making a Peoples?Center ASEAN a Reality”.

As tradition, ACSC/APF events were held in rotating countries in ASEAN: Malaysia (2005), Philippines (2006), Singapore (2007), Thailand (2009), Vietnam (2010), and Indonesia (2011). The ACSC is a main forum where civil society groups in the ASEAN region join in the discussion on commonality and similarity of concerns and then propose key recommendations to the ASEAN governments. This forum has been expanded in accordance with the flexibility of civil society of the host country. This fora is named “ASEAN People Forum, APF”. The main objectives of the event is to ensure space for civil society’s engagement
with ASEAN leaders and as a forum for civil society organizations and the peoples in ASEAN to discuss their issues of concerns and bring them to the attention of the ASEAN leaders.

The ACSC/APF 2012 has the following key objectives:
a) to secure and strengthen critical engagement between peoples and civil society with ASEAN;
b) to urge ASEAN leaders and governments to promote a genuinely peoples?center ASEAN;
c) to present demands of peoples and civil society in the region to ASEAN leaders;
d) to enhance mutual understanding and build solidarity, unity, and cooperation among the peoples of South East Asia in the process of community building;
e) to consult among selected ASEAN CSOs and CSOs in Cambodia on key challenges within the framework of ASEAN geo politics and charter;
f) to consolidate and share CSO relevant recommendations to ASEAN leaders through direct interface;
g) to foster CSOs enabling environment within ASEAN;

With these events organized, Civil society groups in the ASEAN region are committed to contribute to achieving one of the main goals of ASEAN: “Peoples? center ASEAN” through regional cooperation and development. Second phase of ACSC/APF Event will also be scheduled for a large number of participants from the Region ahead of the November ASEAN Summit.


Secretariat, Mr. Suon Sareth or Mr. Jeudy Oeung acscapf.camsec@gmail.com or Mobile Phone at (855) 12 714147 or at tel# 023301415.

Phnom Penh, 20 February 2012


For Civil Society Committee
National Steering Committee

CHHITH Sam Ath                                                              Thida C. KHUS


FOR INFORMATION ON PROGRAMME, WORKSHOPS and LOGISTICS, see http://www.acscapf2012.org

European Conference Austerity, Debt, Social Destruction in Europe: Stop! (May 2011, European Parliament)

The euro crisis has become the occasion to set up a neoliberal “economic governance” which will impose austerity measures in the different European countries for the next years. At the same time, the European Commission will be given enormous power to implement burdensome financial sanctions on countries which do not adopt such painful measures.

European organisations are campaigning to stop the attack on social and democratic rights in Europe!

JOIN THE E-ACTION

READ MORE about the EU’s Economic Governance package and the campaign to stop it

by Eric Toussaint


17 April 2011

The crisis has shaken the European Union to its very foundations. Public debt is suffocating several countries that have been badly hit by the financial markets. With the governments currently in office, and the European Commission (EC), thumb European Central Bank (ECB), and IMF all aiding and abetting, the financial institutions responsible for the crisis are making lots of money while speculating on government debt. Meanwhile, business owners are taking advantage of the situation to launch an offensive against the social and economic rights of the majority.

The reduction of public deficits must be brought about not through cuts in spending for social programs, but through an increase in tax revenue as a result of efficient measures against tax evasion, more taxation on capital, financial transactions, personal wealth, and higher incomes. To reduce public deficits, cuts should be made in arms spending, as well as other expenditures that are socially obnoxious and detrimental to the environment. It is by contrast essential to increase spending on social programs, if only to compensate for the consequences of the economic depression. Beyond this protective position, the current crisis should be seen as an opportunity to break away from the capitalist mindset and achieve a radical change in society. The new logic to be developed must turn away from productivism, take the environment into account, remove all forms of oppression (based on race, gender or other arbitrary criteria), and support universal access to common goods.

To achieve this goal we must build an anti-crisis front both locally and at the European level so as to bring together enough energy to create a balance of power that is favorable to the implementation of radical solutions focusing on social justice and concern for the environment. As early as August 2010, the CADTM drafted eight alternative proposals to the crisis in Europe. |1| The main point is the need to cancel the illegitimate part of the public debt. To this end, the CADTM recommends setting up an audit under citizen control, which should be combined, in some cases, with a unilateral and sovereign suspension of repayment. The aim of the audit is to cancel the illegitimate part of the public debt and to strongly reduce the remainder.

A radical reduction of public debt is necessary but not sufficient in order to get EU countries out of the crisis. It has to be complemented with significant measures in various areas.

1. Auditing public debt to cancel the illegitimate part

A significant part of the public debt in EU countries is illegitimate since it results from a deliberate policy by governments that have decided to systematically favor the moneyed classes to the detriment of other members of society. Tax reductions on higher incomes, personal wealth, and the profits of private corporations have led public authorities to increase the public debt so as to compensate for the drop in government revenues. They have also raised the tax burden on low income households, that is, on the majority of the population. Moreover, the 2007-2008 bail out of the private the financial institutions responsible for the crisis has meant huge spending of public money and a rapid rise of public debt. The decrease in revenues because of the crisis triggered by private financial institutions had to be financed once again by massive borrowing. Such a context clearly shows the illegitimacy of a significant part of the public debt. In a number of countries blackmailed by the financial markets we must add other obvious sources of illegitimacy. From 2008 onward, public money has been borrowed from private banks (and other private financial institutions), which have used the money they get at very low rates from central banks to speculate and compel governments to raise the amounts they pay them. In countries such as Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Romania, and Ireland, IMF loans were granted on conditions that run against the population’s economic and social interests. Worse yet, these conditions again favor banks and other financial institutions. They must therefore be regarded as illegitimate. Finally, in some cases governments have gone against the will of the people: for instance, while in February 2011 a large majority of the Irish voted against parties that had granted gifts to bankers and accepted the conditions imposed by the European Commission and the IMF, the new government coalition has led the same policies as the previous ones. More generally, in many countries the legislative branch of government has gotten marginalized by policies enforced by the executive branch after agreements with the European Commission and the IMF. The executive submits the agreement to Parliament who then has to take it or leave it. In some cases, debates without votes are organized on major issues. The tendency of the executive branch to turn parliament into a rubberstamping assembly is getting stronger.

In such a troublesome situation, knowing as we do that several countries will soon have to face a defaulting scenario for want of cash, and that repaying illegitimate debt is by definition inacceptable, we have to speak out loud and clear in favor of the cancellation of illegitimate debt. The cost of the cancellation must be borne by private financial institutions, i.e. those that are responsible for the crisis.

Countries such as Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and ones in Eastern Europe (or outside the EU, such as Iceland), i.e. countries that are being blackmailed by speculators, the IMF and other bodies such as the European Commission, ought to call for a unilateral moratorium on repayment of the public debt. The proposal is gaining popular support in countries that are most badly hit by the crisis. In Dublin at the end of November 2010, in a telephone survey of some 500 people, 57% of the Irish in the poll favored defaulting rather than receiving emergency aid from the IMF and the EU. Default! say the people, was the headline of the Sunday Independent, the island’s main weekly. The CADTM argues that such a unilateral moratorium must be combined with the auditing of public loans (with citizen participation). The auditing should give the government and public opinion the necessary evidence and arguments to cancel/repudiate the part of the debt that has been found to be illegitimate. International law and the various national laws offer a legal basis for such a unilateral sovereign act of cancellation/repudiation.

Its experience working on the debt question in the South incites the CADTM to warn defaulting countries against insufficient measures such as merely suspending repayment, which can prove counterproductive. What is required is a moratorium without accrual of interest on over-due loans.

In other countries such as France, the UK or Germany, it may not be imperative to call for a unilateral moratorium during the auditing period. Yet an audit has to be carried out in order to determine the scope of the cancellation/repudiation called for. Should the international economic environment deteriorate further, a suspension of payment may be on the agenda even for countries that thought they could not be blackmailed by private creditors.

Citizen participation is an imperative condition to guarantee that an audit is objective and transparent. The auditing committee must include the various public bodies concerned, experts in auditing public finances, economists, jurists, constitutionalists, and representatives of social movements. This will make it possible to decide on the various responsibilities involved in the indebtedness process and to demand accountability of those responsible, whether at a national or international level. Should the current government not agree to debt auditing, a citizens auditing committee must be set up, without the government’s participation.

In all cases, it is legitimate for private institutions and high-income individuals, who hold debt securities, to bear the burden of the cancellation of illegitimate sovereign debt, since they are largely responsible for the crisis, and have also profited from it. This is merely a fair return to more social justice. It is important to create a register of security holders in order to compensate those who have low or middle-range incomes.

If the audit brings up evidence of crimes related to illegitimate debt, their perpetrators must be heavily sentenced to pay compensation and serve prison terms as befits the severity of their transgressions. Public bodies that have contracted illegitimate loans must be held accountable.

As for legitimate debt, creditors should be forced to try and reduce the principal and the interest rates, and to postpone maturity. Here again, positive discrimination in favor of small holders of public debt securities should insure that they get paid. Moreover, the amount in the state budget set aside for refunding the debt must be capped depending on the economic conditions, public bodies’ ability to repay, and the irreducible nature of spending on social programs. We must take inspiration from what was done for Germany after WWII. The 1953 London agreement on German external debt (which among other measures reduced the principal of the debt by 62%) stipulated that the debt service / annual export income ratio could not exceed 5%. |2| We could define a similar ratio: the amount dedicated to repaying the debt cannot exceed 5% of the State’s revenues. We must also define a legal framework so as to avoid a repetition of the crisis that started in 2007-2008, including the prohibition of socializing private debts, an obligation to organize a permanent audit of public debt policies, with citizen participation, the non applicability of statutory limitations to crimes related to illegitimate debt, invalidity of illegitimate debt, and so on.

2. Stop austerity plans, they are unfair and are only making the crisis worse

Governments of European countries have chosen to comply with IMF demands and impose strict austerity policies on their populations, with slashed public spending, including massive layoffs of civil servants and frozen or even reduced salaries for them, reduced access to some vital public services and to social protection, later retirement age. Conversely public corporations have demanded – and received – an increase in their prices, while the cost for getting access to health care and education has risen. Using particularly unfair higher indirect taxes such as sales tax (VAT) is more and more frequent. Public corporations in the sectors open to competition have been massively privatized. The austerity policies implemented have been pushed to levels not seen since World War II. The consequences of the crisis have thus been made much worse by the alleged remedies, the main aim of which is to protect the interests of capital holders. In a nutshell, champagne for the bankers, and peanuts for the workers, pensioners, and unemployed!

But the people are less and less ready to bear the injustice of such reforms, which signify large scale social regression. Those who are being forced to contribute the most to enable governments to pay back creditors are wage earners, the unemployed and low-income households. Meanwhile, women are the most severely affected, since the current organization of patriarchal society and the economy is such that they bear the brunt of the disastrous consequences of make-shift, part-time, and under-paid jobs. They are also directly affected by the deterioration of public social services. Our struggle to impose another mindset must go hand in hand with a struggle for the total respect of women’s rights.

3. Establish real European fiscal justice and a fair redistribution of wealth. Ban transactions with legal and tax havens. Fight against the massive fiscal fraud being committed by the largest and most prosperous corporations.

Since 1980, the rates of direct taxation on the highest incomes and largest corporations have continuously fallen in the European Union. Between 2000 and 2008, the highest personal income tax rate fell by 7 percent, while the highest corporate tax rate dropped by 8.5 percent. These hundreds of billions of euros in tax breaks have been largely dished out to speculators and the richest members of society, who have seen their wealth continue to accumulate.

Major fiscal reform aiming for social justice must be implemented (decreasing the revenues and personal wealth of the richest so that the rest of the planet can have more), and adopted throughout Europe in order to prevent fiscal dumping. |3| The goal is to increase public revenues, in particular via a progressive tax on the revenues of the wealthiest individuals (the marginal rate for those in the highest tax bracket must be raised to 90% |4|), a tax on personal wealth above a certain amount, and a corporate tax. This increase in revenues must be accompanied by a rapid decrease in the price of every day goods and services, such as basic food items, water, electricity, heating, public transport, and school supplies, which can be accomplished via a substantial and targeted decrease in the sales tax (VAT) applied to these vital goods and services. The fiscal policy adopted should also encourage the protection of the environment by applying a dissuasive tax penalizing companies that pollute.

The EU must adopt a tax on financial transactions, particularly on foreign exchange markets, so as to increase government revenues.

Despite their lofty intentions, the G20 countries have repeatedly refused to deal with legal and tax havens. A simple measure to fight against these tax havens (which drain vital resources needed for the development of people in Northern as well as Southern countries) would consist in adopting a law officially banning all individuals and companies located in a country from making any kind of transaction transiting through a tax haven, with a fine that would be equivalent to the amount of the forbidden transaction. Ultimately, these financial cesspools must be eliminated, along with the criminal activities, corruption, and white-collar suit and tie delinquency occurring there.

Fiscal fraud drains a considerable amount of resources from the local community and adversely affects employment. Substantial public resources must be allocated to government finance services so they can combat this kind of fraud effectively. The results of their activities must be made public, and the guilty parties must be severely punished.

4. Rein in the financial markets by creating a register of securities holders, and forbidding short sales and speculation in various domains. Create a public European rating agency.

Worldwide speculation represents several times the amount of wealth produced on the planet. The highly complex nature of this financial engineering makes it totally uncontrollable. The mechanisms it puts into play undermine the real economy. Opaque financial transactions are the rule. To be taxed at the source, the creditors must be first identified. Financial market dictatorships must come to an end! Speculation must also be forbidden in many arenas. Speculation on government bonds, currencies, and food should also be forbidden. |5| Short sales must also be banned |6| and Credit Default Swaps strictly regulated. Over-the-counter derivatives markets must be closed, because they are veritable black holes, not subject to any regulation or surveillance.

Rating agencies must also be seriously reformed and strictly regulated. Far from being instruments for making objective scientific estimations, they have become basic devices structuring neoliberal globalization and have already triggered social catastrophes several times. When a country’s rating is lowered, the interest rates on the loans made to it are increased, which explains why the economic situation in the country concerned further deteriorates. The complacent behavior of speculators greatly exacerbates the difficulties encountered, which will adversely affect common citizens. The submissive attitudes of these rating agencies in their dealings with the North American financial sector, has turned them into a major actor on the international scene, and their responsibility in triggering and worsening crises has not been highlighted enough by the media. The economic stability of European countries has been placed in the hands of these rating agencies with no safeguards, no serious means of controlling them provided by governmental authorities. The only way to get out of this impasse is by creating a public rating agency.

5. Transfer the banks to the public sector with citizen control.

After decades of financial excesses and privatizations, it is high time to transfer the banking sector to the public domain. Governments must recover their capacity to control and frame economic and financial activity. They must also have the instruments needed to make investments and finance public spending by minimizing the need to borrow from private and/or foreign institutions. Banks must be expropriated with no compensation for their owners, and transferred to the public sector where they would be placed under citizen control.   In some cases, the expropriation of private banks would represent a cost for the State because of the debts they have accumulated. This cost would have to be paid for by the banks’ major shareholders. The private corporations, which are shareholders of the banks and often led them to the financial abyss in the first place, while making juicy profits, hold part of their wealth in other sectors of the economy. A levy must be placed on the wealth of these shareholders, so as to avoid making the general public pay for the bank losses. The Irish example is emblematic: the way in which the Irish Allied Bank was nationalized is totally unacceptable, and we must draw appropriate lessons from this very bad example.

6. Re-nationalize the numerous companies and services privatized since 1980.

During past thirty years many public corporations and public services have been privatized. From banks to the heavy industry sector as well as the postal service and telecommunications, energy, and transport, governments worldwide have handed over entire blocks of the economy to the private sector, losing in the bargain any capacity to regulate the economy. These public goods, which are the fruit of collective work, must be returned to the public domain. The idea would be to create new public corporations and to adapt public services to the needs of the people, in particular to respond to climate change issues, with for example the creation of a public service for insulating buildings.

7. Drastically reduce the amount of time people work to create jobs and increase wages and pensions

Redistributing wealth in a different way is the best response to the crisis. The share of the wealth produced going to employees has significantly decreased for decades, while the creditors and businesses have increased their profits and as a consequence engaged in more financial speculation. Increasing wages, not only increases people’s well-being, it also makes more means available for social protection and pensions.   By decreasing the amount of time people work without decreasing wages, and by creating new jobs, workers will see an improvement in their quality of life and jobs will be given to those who are looking for one. Drastically decreasing the amount of time people work also offers the possibility of putting into place another pace of life, a different way of living in society that turns its back on the excesses of consumer society. The time saved for leisure activities could be translated into an increased participation of people in their community’s political life, more inter-personal solidarity, and also used for volunteer and artistic activities.

8. For a new, democratic European Union based on solidarity.

Several provisions in the treaties of the European Union, the Euro Zone, and the ECB must be abrogated, such as articles 63 and 125 of the Treaty of Lisbon prohibiting all control of movements of capital and all aid to a State in difficulty. The Stability and Growth Pact must also be abandoned. Furthermore, the present treaties must be replaced by new ones in the framework of a real democratic constitutive process to come up with a people’s solidarity pact for jobs and the environment.

Monetary policy must be completely revised as must the status and practices of the Central European Bank. The inability of the political authorities to oblige the ECB to mint money is a severe handicap. By placing the ECB above the governments and thus the people, the European Union made the disastrous choice of placing human interests below financial interests instead of the contrary.

With many social movements denouncing its statutes as being too rigid and utterly inappropriate, the ECB was forced to change its policy in the midst of the crisis and to modify the role that it had been given. Unfortunately, it agreed to do so for the wrong reasons. It did not mean to take the interests of the people into account, but to preserve those of the creditors. This attitude clearly illustrates that the cards need to be reshuffled and another hand dealt. The ECB must be able to finance States directly when their concern is to reach social and environmental targets that fully meet the fundamental needs of their populations. Today, extremely diverse economic activities, from investing in the construction of a hospital to a project of pure speculation, are financed in a similar way. The political authorities must at least consider imposing very different costs for each kind of borrowing: low rates should be reserved for investments that are socially just and economically sustainable, while applying very high rates, even prohibitive when the situation demands, for speculative operations which could also be purely and simply prohibited in certain domains (see above).

With a Europe based on solidarity and cooperation it should be possible to get away from the competitive ethos which tends to cause a lowering of standards. The neo-liberal mindset has led to a crisis and has proven to be a failure. It has dragged down social indicators resulting in less social protection, fewer jobs, and fewer public services. The few who have profited from the crisis have done so by trampling on the rights of the others, the majority. The culprits have won; the victims are forced to pay! This logic, which underlies all the founding texts of the European Union, with the Stability and Growth Pact leading the field, has to be demolished. It has lost all credibility. Another Europe, based on cooperation between States and solidarity between peoples, must become the primary objective. To this end, budgetary and fiscal policies must be coordinated, but not standardized, for there are huge disparities between the European economies. Only coordinating them can bring about a solution which will enable everyone to go forward. Far-reaching policies on the European scale, including massive public investment for job creation in essential public services, from local services to sustainable energy, from the battle against climate change to basic social sectors, must be enforced.

The CADTM maintains that this new democratized Europe must strive to establish non negotiable principles. It must uphold and improve social and fiscal justice, make choices that will raise the standard of living of its inhabitants, engage in arms reduction and a radical decrease in military spending (including withdrawing European troops from Afghanistan and leaving NATO), choose sustainable energies so as to avoid nuclear power, and refuse genetically modified organisms (GMO). Furthermore, Europe must resolutely put an end to its “besieged fortress” policy regarding candidates for immigration, so that it can become a partner trusted for its fairness and true solidarity towards the peoples of the South.

notes articles:

|1| See http://www.the CADTM.org/Debt-a-boo…

|2| See Éric Toussaint, The World Bank: a Critical Primer, Pluto Press, London (2008), Chapter 4.

|3| For instance in Ireland, where tax on corporate profit in only 12.5.

|4| This 90% rate was imposed on the rich in the United States in the 1930s under Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency.

|5| See Éric Toussaint “Getting to the root causes of the food crisis” http://www.cadtm.org/Getting-to-the…

|6| Short sales allow traders to speculate on the price of a stock, which they expect will drop, via transactions in which they buy then immediately sell stock they did not own when they ‘shorted’ it. German authorities have forbidden these dubious transactions, whereas French authorities and ones from other countries are opposed to this German ban.


infos article
URL: http://www.cadtm.org


Translated by Charles La Via, Christine Pagnoulle and Vicki Briault

Éric Toussaint is doctor in Political Science (University of Liege and University of Paris VIII), president of CADTM-Belgium (Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt, www.cadtm.org), member of the Scientific Council of ATTAC France and of the International Council of the World Social Forum (Porto Alegre), member of the CAIC Commission for the Integral Audit of the Public Debt (Ecuador), author with Damien Millet of Debt, the IMF, and the World Bank. Sixty Questions, Sixty Answers, Monthly Review Press, New York, 2010. Author of A diagnosis of emerging global crisis and alternatives (2009), 139p.; The World Bank: A Critical Primer (2008); The World Bank: a never-ending coup d’Etat. The hidden agenda of the Washington Consensus (2007), Your Money [or] Your Life – The Tyranny of Global Finance (2005), co-author of Tsunami Aid or Debt Cancellation (2005), The Debt Scam – IMF, World Bank and the Third World Debt (2003), Who owes Who? 50 questions about World Debt (2004), Globalisation: ‘Reality, Resistance & Alternatives’ (2004).


Original Source: http://www.cadtm.org/Eight-key-proposals-for-another

by Eric Toussaint


17 April 2011

The crisis has shaken the European Union to its very foundations. Public debt is suffocating several countries that have been badly hit by the financial markets. With the governments currently in office, mind and the European Commission (EC), sick European Central Bank (ECB), sovaldi and IMF all aiding and abetting, the financial institutions responsible for the crisis are making lots of money while speculating on government debt. Meanwhile, business owners are taking advantage of the situation to launch an offensive against the social and economic rights of the majority.

The reduction of public deficits must be brought about not through cuts in spending for social programs, but through an increase in tax revenue as a result of efficient measures against tax evasion, more taxation on capital, financial transactions, personal wealth, and higher incomes. To reduce public deficits, cuts should be made in arms spending, as well as other expenditures that are socially obnoxious and detrimental to the environment. It is by contrast essential to increase spending on social programs, if only to compensate for the consequences of the economic depression. Beyond this protective position, the current crisis should be seen as an opportunity to break away from the capitalist mindset and achieve a radical change in society. The new logic to be developed must turn away from productivism, take the environment into account, remove all forms of oppression (based on race, gender or other arbitrary criteria), and support universal access to common goods.

To achieve this goal we must build an anti-crisis front both locally and at the European level so as to bring together enough energy to create a balance of power that is favorable to the implementation of radical solutions focusing on social justice and concern for the environment. As early as August 2010, the CADTM drafted eight alternative proposals to the crisis in Europe. |1| The main point is the need to cancel the illegitimate part of the public debt. To this end, the CADTM recommends setting up an audit under citizen control, which should be combined, in some cases, with a unilateral and sovereign suspension of repayment. The aim of the audit is to cancel the illegitimate part of the public debt and to strongly reduce the remainder.

A radical reduction of public debt is necessary but not sufficient in order to get EU countries out of the crisis. It has to be complemented with significant measures in various areas.

1. Auditing public debt to cancel the illegitimate part

A significant part of the public debt in EU countries is illegitimate since it results from a deliberate policy by governments that have decided to systematically favor the moneyed classes to the detriment of other members of society. Tax reductions on higher incomes, personal wealth, and the profits of private corporations have led public authorities to increase the public debt so as to compensate for the drop in government revenues. They have also raised the tax burden on low income households, that is, on the majority of the population. Moreover, the 2007-2008 bail out of the private the financial institutions responsible for the crisis has meant huge spending of public money and a rapid rise of public debt. The decrease in revenues because of the crisis triggered by private financial institutions had to be financed once again by massive borrowing. Such a context clearly shows the illegitimacy of a significant part of the public debt. In a number of countries blackmailed by the financial markets we must add other obvious sources of illegitimacy. From 2008 onward, public money has been borrowed from private banks (and other private financial institutions), which have used the money they get at very low rates from central banks to speculate and compel governments to raise the amounts they pay them. In countries such as Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Romania, and Ireland, IMF loans were granted on conditions that run against the population’s economic and social interests. Worse yet, these conditions again favor banks and other financial institutions. They must therefore be regarded as illegitimate. Finally, in some cases governments have gone against the will of the people: for instance, while in February 2011 a large majority of the Irish voted against parties that had granted gifts to bankers and accepted the conditions imposed by the European Commission and the IMF, the new government coalition has led the same policies as the previous ones. More generally, in many countries the legislative branch of government has gotten marginalized by policies enforced by the executive branch after agreements with the European Commission and the IMF. The executive submits the agreement to Parliament who then has to take it or leave it. In some cases, debates without votes are organized on major issues. The tendency of the executive branch to turn parliament into a rubberstamping assembly is getting stronger.

In such a troublesome situation, knowing as we do that several countries will soon have to face a defaulting scenario for want of cash, and that repaying illegitimate debt is by definition inacceptable, we have to speak out loud and clear in favor of the cancellation of illegitimate debt. The cost of the cancellation must be borne by private financial institutions, i.e. those that are responsible for the crisis.

Countries such as Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and ones in Eastern Europe (or outside the EU, such as Iceland), i.e. countries that are being blackmailed by speculators, the IMF and other bodies such as the European Commission, ought to call for a unilateral moratorium on repayment of the public debt. The proposal is gaining popular support in countries that are most badly hit by the crisis. In Dublin at the end of November 2010, in a telephone survey of some 500 people, 57% of the Irish in the poll favored defaulting rather than receiving emergency aid from the IMF and the EU. Default! say the people, was the headline of the Sunday Independent, the island’s main weekly. The CADTM argues that such a unilateral moratorium must be combined with the auditing of public loans (with citizen participation). The auditing should give the government and public opinion the necessary evidence and arguments to cancel/repudiate the part of the debt that has been found to be illegitimate. International law and the various national laws offer a legal basis for such a unilateral sovereign act of cancellation/repudiation.

Its experience working on the debt question in the South incites the CADTM to warn defaulting countries against insufficient measures such as merely suspending repayment, which can prove counterproductive. What is required is a moratorium without accrual of interest on over-due loans.

In other countries such as France, the UK or Germany, it may not be imperative to call for a unilateral moratorium during the auditing period. Yet an audit has to be carried out in order to determine the scope of the cancellation/repudiation called for. Should the international economic environment deteriorate further, a suspension of payment may be on the agenda even for countries that thought they could not be blackmailed by private creditors.

Citizen participation is an imperative condition to guarantee that an audit is objective and transparent. The auditing committee must include the various public bodies concerned, experts in auditing public finances, economists, jurists, constitutionalists, and representatives of social movements. This will make it possible to decide on the various responsibilities involved in the indebtedness process and to demand accountability of those responsible, whether at a national or international level. Should the current government not agree to debt auditing, a citizens auditing committee must be set up, without the government’s participation.

In all cases, it is legitimate for private institutions and high-income individuals, who hold debt securities, to bear the burden of the cancellation of illegitimate sovereign debt, since they are largely responsible for the crisis, and have also profited from it. This is merely a fair return to more social justice. It is important to create a register of security holders in order to compensate those who have low or middle-range incomes.

If the audit brings up evidence of crimes related to illegitimate debt, their perpetrators must be heavily sentenced to pay compensation and serve prison terms as befits the severity of their transgressions. Public bodies that have contracted illegitimate loans must be held accountable.

As for legitimate debt, creditors should be forced to try and reduce the principal and the interest rates, and to postpone maturity. Here again, positive discrimination in favor of small holders of public debt securities should insure that they get paid. Moreover, the amount in the state budget set aside for refunding the debt must be capped depending on the economic conditions, public bodies’ ability to repay, and the irreducible nature of spending on social programs. We must take inspiration from what was done for Germany after WWII. The 1953 London agreement on German external debt (which among other measures reduced the principal of the debt by 62%) stipulated that the debt service / annual export income ratio could not exceed 5%. |2| We could define a similar ratio: the amount dedicated to repaying the debt cannot exceed 5% of the State’s revenues. We must also define a legal framework so as to avoid a repetition of the crisis that started in 2007-2008, including the prohibition of socializing private debts, an obligation to organize a permanent audit of public debt policies, with citizen participation, the non applicability of statutory limitations to crimes related to illegitimate debt, invalidity of illegitimate debt, and so on.

2. Stop austerity plans, they are unfair and are only making the crisis worse

Governments of European countries have chosen to comply with IMF demands and impose strict austerity policies on their populations, with slashed public spending, including massive layoffs of civil servants and frozen or even reduced salaries for them, reduced access to some vital public services and to social protection, later retirement age. Conversely public corporations have demanded – and received – an increase in their prices, while the cost for getting access to health care and education has risen. Using particularly unfair higher indirect taxes such as sales tax (VAT) is more and more frequent. Public corporations in the sectors open to competition have been massively privatized. The austerity policies implemented have been pushed to levels not seen since World War II. The consequences of the crisis have thus been made much worse by the alleged remedies, the main aim of which is to protect the interests of capital holders. In a nutshell, champagne for the bankers, and peanuts for the workers, pensioners, and unemployed!

But the people are less and less ready to bear the injustice of such reforms, which signify large scale social regression. Those who are being forced to contribute the most to enable governments to pay back creditors are wage earners, the unemployed and low-income households. Meanwhile, women are the most severely affected, since the current organization of patriarchal society and the economy is such that they bear the brunt of the disastrous consequences of make-shift, part-time, and under-paid jobs. They are also directly affected by the deterioration of public social services. Our struggle to impose another mindset must go hand in hand with a struggle for the total respect of women’s rights.

3. Establish real European fiscal justice and a fair redistribution of wealth. Ban transactions with legal and tax havens. Fight against the massive fiscal fraud being committed by the largest and most prosperous corporations.

Since 1980, the rates of direct taxation on the highest incomes and largest corporations have continuously fallen in the European Union. Between 2000 and 2008, the highest personal income tax rate fell by 7 percent, while the highest corporate tax rate dropped by 8.5 percent. These hundreds of billions of euros in tax breaks have been largely dished out to speculators and the richest members of society, who have seen their wealth continue to accumulate.

Major fiscal reform aiming for social justice must be implemented (decreasing the revenues and personal wealth of the richest so that the rest of the planet can have more), and adopted throughout Europe in order to prevent fiscal dumping. |3| The goal is to increase public revenues, in particular via a progressive tax on the revenues of the wealthiest individuals (the marginal rate for those in the highest tax bracket must be raised to 90% |4|), a tax on personal wealth above a certain amount, and a corporate tax. This increase in revenues must be accompanied by a rapid decrease in the price of every day goods and services, such as basic food items, water, electricity, heating, public transport, and school supplies, which can be accomplished via a substantial and targeted decrease in the sales tax (VAT) applied to these vital goods and services. The fiscal policy adopted should also encourage the protection of the environment by applying a dissuasive tax penalizing companies that pollute.

The EU must adopt a tax on financial transactions, particularly on foreign exchange markets, so as to increase government revenues.

Despite their lofty intentions, the G20 countries have repeatedly refused to deal with legal and tax havens. A simple measure to fight against these tax havens (which drain vital resources needed for the development of people in Northern as well as Southern countries) would consist in adopting a law officially banning all individuals and companies located in a country from making any kind of transaction transiting through a tax haven, with a fine that would be equivalent to the amount of the forbidden transaction. Ultimately, these financial cesspools must be eliminated, along with the criminal activities, corruption, and white-collar suit and tie delinquency occurring there.

Fiscal fraud drains a considerable amount of resources from the local community and adversely affects employment. Substantial public resources must be allocated to government finance services so they can combat this kind of fraud effectively. The results of their activities must be made public, and the guilty parties must be severely punished.

4. Rein in the financial markets by creating a register of securities holders, and forbidding short sales and speculation in various domains. Create a public European rating agency.

Worldwide speculation represents several times the amount of wealth produced on the planet. The highly complex nature of this financial engineering makes it totally uncontrollable. The mechanisms it puts into play undermine the real economy. Opaque financial transactions are the rule. To be taxed at the source, the creditors must be first identified. Financial market dictatorships must come to an end! Speculation must also be forbidden in many arenas. Speculation on government bonds, currencies, and food should also be forbidden. |5| Short sales must also be banned |6| and Credit Default Swaps strictly regulated. Over-the-counter derivatives markets must be closed, because they are veritable black holes, not subject to any regulation or surveillance.

Rating agencies must also be seriously reformed and strictly regulated. Far from being instruments for making objective scientific estimations, they have become basic devices structuring neoliberal globalization and have already triggered social catastrophes several times. When a country’s rating is lowered, the interest rates on the loans made to it are increased, which explains why the economic situation in the country concerned further deteriorates. The complacent behavior of speculators greatly exacerbates the difficulties encountered, which will adversely affect common citizens. The submissive attitudes of these rating agencies in their dealings with the North American financial sector, has turned them into a major actor on the international scene, and their responsibility in triggering and worsening crises has not been highlighted enough by the media. The economic stability of European countries has been placed in the hands of these rating agencies with no safeguards, no serious means of controlling them provided by governmental authorities. The only way to get out of this impasse is by creating a public rating agency.

5. Transfer the banks to the public sector with citizen control.

After decades of financial excesses and privatizations, it is high time to transfer the banking sector to the public domain. Governments must recover their capacity to control and frame economic and financial activity. They must also have the instruments needed to make investments and finance public spending by minimizing the need to borrow from private and/or foreign institutions. Banks must be expropriated with no compensation for their owners, and transferred to the public sector where they would be placed under citizen control.   In some cases, the expropriation of private banks would represent a cost for the State because of the debts they have accumulated. This cost would have to be paid for by the banks’ major shareholders. The private corporations, which are shareholders of the banks and often led them to the financial abyss in the first place, while making juicy profits, hold part of their wealth in other sectors of the economy. A levy must be placed on the wealth of these shareholders, so as to avoid making the general public pay for the bank losses. The Irish example is emblematic: the way in which the Irish Allied Bank was nationalized is totally unacceptable, and we must draw appropriate lessons from this very bad example.

6. Re-nationalize the numerous companies and services privatized since 1980.

During past thirty years many public corporations and public services have been privatized. From banks to the heavy industry sector as well as the postal service and telecommunications, energy, and transport, governments worldwide have handed over entire blocks of the economy to the private sector, losing in the bargain any capacity to regulate the economy. These public goods, which are the fruit of collective work, must be returned to the public domain. The idea would be to create new public corporations and to adapt public services to the needs of the people, in particular to respond to climate change issues, with for example the creation of a public service for insulating buildings.

7. Drastically reduce the amount of time people work to create jobs and increase wages and pensions

Redistributing wealth in a different way is the best response to the crisis. The share of the wealth produced going to employees has significantly decreased for decades, while the creditors and businesses have increased their profits and as a consequence engaged in more financial speculation. Increasing wages, not only increases people’s well-being, it also makes more means available for social protection and pensions.   By decreasing the amount of time people work without decreasing wages, and by creating new jobs, workers will see an improvement in their quality of life and jobs will be given to those who are looking for one. Drastically decreasing the amount of time people work also offers the possibility of putting into place another pace of life, a different way of living in society that turns its back on the excesses of consumer society. The time saved for leisure activities could be translated into an increased participation of people in their community’s political life, more inter-personal solidarity, and also used for volunteer and artistic activities.

8. For a new, democratic European Union based on solidarity.

Several provisions in the treaties of the European Union, the Euro Zone, and the ECB must be abrogated, such as articles 63 and 125 of the Treaty of Lisbon prohibiting all control of movements of capital and all aid to a State in difficulty. The Stability and Growth Pact must also be abandoned. Furthermore, the present treaties must be replaced by new ones in the framework of a real democratic constitutive process to come up with a people’s solidarity pact for jobs and the environment.

Monetary policy must be completely revised as must the status and practices of the Central European Bank. The inability of the political authorities to oblige the ECB to mint money is a severe handicap. By placing the ECB above the governments and thus the people, the European Union made the disastrous choice of placing human interests below financial interests instead of the contrary.

With many social movements denouncing its statutes as being too rigid and utterly inappropriate, the ECB was forced to change its policy in the midst of the crisis and to modify the role that it had been given. Unfortunately, it agreed to do so for the wrong reasons. It did not mean to take the interests of the people into account, but to preserve those of the creditors. This attitude clearly illustrates that the cards need to be reshuffled and another hand dealt. The ECB must be able to finance States directly when their concern is to reach social and environmental targets that fully meet the fundamental needs of their populations. Today, extremely diverse economic activities, from investing in the construction of a hospital to a project of pure speculation, are financed in a similar way. The political authorities must at least consider imposing very different costs for each kind of borrowing: low rates should be reserved for investments that are socially just and economically sustainable, while applying very high rates, even prohibitive when the situation demands, for speculative operations which could also be purely and simply prohibited in certain domains (see above).

With a Europe based on solidarity and cooperation it should be possible to get away from the competitive ethos which tends to cause a lowering of standards. The neo-liberal mindset has led to a crisis and has proven to be a failure. It has dragged down social indicators resulting in less social protection, fewer jobs, and fewer public services. The few who have profited from the crisis have done so by trampling on the rights of the others, the majority. The culprits have won; the victims are forced to pay! This logic, which underlies all the founding texts of the European Union, with the Stability and Growth Pact leading the field, has to be demolished. It has lost all credibility. Another Europe, based on cooperation between States and solidarity between peoples, must become the primary objective. To this end, budgetary and fiscal policies must be coordinated, but not standardized, for there are huge disparities between the European economies. Only coordinating them can bring about a solution which will enable everyone to go forward. Far-reaching policies on the European scale, including massive public investment for job creation in essential public services, from local services to sustainable energy, from the battle against climate change to basic social sectors, must be enforced.

The CADTM maintains that this new democratized Europe must strive to establish non negotiable principles. It must uphold and improve social and fiscal justice, make choices that will raise the standard of living of its inhabitants, engage in arms reduction and a radical decrease in military spending (including withdrawing European troops from Afghanistan and leaving NATO), choose sustainable energies so as to avoid nuclear power, and refuse genetically modified organisms (GMO). Furthermore, Europe must resolutely put an end to its “besieged fortress” policy regarding candidates for immigration, so that it can become a partner trusted for its fairness and true solidarity towards the peoples of the South.

notes articles:


|1| See http://www.the CADTM.org/Debt-a-boo…

|2| See Éric Toussaint, The World Bank: a Critical Primer, Pluto Press, London (2008), Chapter 4.

|3| For instance in Ireland, where tax on corporate profit in only 12.5.

|4| This 90% rate was imposed on the rich in the United States in the 1930s under Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency.

|5| See Éric Toussaint “Getting to the root causes of the food crisis” http://www.cadtm.org/Getting-to-the…

|6| Short sales allow traders to speculate on the price of a stock, which they expect will drop, via transactions in which they buy then immediately sell stock they did not own when they ‘shorted’ it. German authorities have forbidden these dubious transactions, whereas French authorities and ones from other countries are opposed to this German ban.


infos article
URL: http://www.cadtm.org



Translated by Charles La Via, Christine Pagnoulle and Vicki Briault

Éric Toussaint is doctor in Political Science (University of Liege and University of Paris VIII), president of CADTM-Belgium (Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt, www.cadtm.org), member of the Scientific Council of ATTAC France and of the International Council of the World Social Forum (Porto Alegre), member of the CAIC Commission for the Integral Audit of the Public Debt (Ecuador), author with Damien Millet of Debt, the IMF, and the World Bank. Sixty Questions, Sixty Answers, Monthly Review Press, New York, 2010. Author of A diagnosis of emerging global crisis and alternatives (2009), 139p.; The World Bank: A Critical Primer (2008); The World Bank: a never-ending coup d’Etat. The hidden agenda of the Washington Consensus (2007), Your Money [or] Your Life – The Tyranny of Global Finance (2005), co-author of Tsunami Aid or Debt Cancellation (2005), The Debt Scam – IMF, World Bank and the Third World Debt (2003), Who owes Who? 50 questions about World Debt (2004), Globalisation: ‘Reality, Resistance & Alternatives’ (2004).


Original Source: http://www.cadtm.org/Eight-key-proposals-for-another

European Conference

Austerity, sildenafil Debt, Social Destruction in Europe: Stop!

Coordinate our Strengths – Democratic Alternatives are Necessary and Possible!

31 May 2011

in the European Parliament (Brussels) –

in partnership with the GUE/NGL Parliamentary Group

Conclusions


This conference reflects an emergency.

It took place at a time when the Euro crisis, the crisis of the EU, is deepening in the context of a general crisis of financialised capitalism. Europe, whose bases have been destabilised, finds itself in a dead end. With the Euro-Plus Pact, a fresh limit has been overstepping the worsening of the social and democratic crisis. Ecological issues can not find solution in this context.

Europe finds itself at the crossroads – its legitimacy is receding.

More than ever before, the only way out of the crisis lies in resistance and struggles to reject the Euro-Plus Pact, the new European economic governance, the generalisation of austerity and the pressure of public debts. It lies in changing Europe to make it an area of cooperation and solidarity. We must act together in Europe to counter the divisions, the nationalism and resentment that can only encourage populist and radical Rightwing trends that are growing today even as we must link the European issues to the struggles at national level and everywhere making clear the things we have in common.

The social and political conflict is very tough.

Difficulties are continually worsening for wage earners and pensioners, for those in insecure employment, young people migrants and the poorest people, or those being reduced to poverty. Everywhere women are the worst affected.  We welcome as most encouraging the movements of “the indignant ones” in many European countries for “a real democracy”.

Convergent demands that mobilise:

  • We have observed that a number of struggles go in the same direction by bearing the demand for a harmonisation of rights towards the high levels and that, in an atmosphere of indignation there are many convergences between social and civic movements, trade unionists as well as social and  political activists.
  • The answer to problems raised in Europe as well as to the acute difficulties arising in several countries must be European and united.
  • Economic cooperation at European level must have the objective of answering to people’s needs. The architecture of the Euro, of the institutions, of European Treaties and arrangements must be altered to allow this.
  • The public debts must be reduced: by new revenue; by the lowering of the interest rates that states and local authorities must pay; by the reduction of transfers to the creditors; by measures to cancel the illegitimate parts of debts on the basis of public and citizen audits that would enable the penalisation of speculators and the protection of simple savings and pensioners.
  • New systems of public revenue must be carried set up out in various forms: a fairer and less inegalitarian taxation system; the stopping of fiscal dumping; the taxation of revenue from capital and financial transfers; and the suppression of unacceptable kinds of expenditure, e.g. military ones.
  • Many political measures must contribute to organising a more radical redistribution of wealth and to push back social inequalities and injustices.
  • The financial sectors and banks must be subjected to more restrictive rules, with measures for public and social appropriation of the necessary instruments so as to work in support of a new mode of social and ecological development. There must be an end to the ECB’s restrictive policies.
  • It is essential to reopen the perspective of an upward social convergence so as to stop the downward spiral of social dumping, the dismantling of social protection and retirement systems and the growth of pauperisation.
  • To enable the upward convergence of incomes: the establishment of a European minimum wage based on each country’s average income to counter social and wages dumping and making the social minimal proportional the minimum wage. As a matter of immediate urgency, so as to struggle against social exclusion, no income may be lower than the poverty level. Women, the prime victims of low wages, are especially concerned by such a change of direction.
  • To counter the impoverishment of new populations, the concept of social security must broaden to integrate the population as a whole.
  • The most vulnerable populations, crushed by indebtedness and threatened with expulsion from their homes, as is the case in Poland, Hungary and Rumania as well as other European countries, must be assisted and be able to benefit from a right to housing.
  • European subsidies granted to the Eastern countries must in no case strengthen the indebtedness of local authorities: there must be a ban on the property of local councils being based on credits or debentures.
  • European policy regarding migrants must be radically changed and observe their social and human rights and encourage cooperation and solidarity.
  • European public services must be preserved and developed so as to encourage the principle of equality, solidarity and education for all; research projects needed their societies and the emergence of a new mode of social and ecological development. This is a fundamental objective to ensure that social activities remain in the public area and cannot be transferred as unpaid domestic activity by women or underpaid wage groups.
  • Ecological and social issues require, more than ever, public and democratic control of economic decisions: moving on to another kind of economy is needed at local, national and European level.
  • Democracy is in retreat in Europe, it must be defended and become more real as is being demanded by citizens all over Europe.

The mobilisations in Europe must be strengthened and brought closer to favour a radical change of Europe – this is a matter of urgency. This conference expresses its full solidarity with the movements of resistance to austerity, the pressure of the debt, and movements for a genuine democracy.

Several initiatives are already being prepared to enable the advance and broadening of movements of struggle:

  • 19 June: a Day of Action in Spain on the initiative of the “indignant ones” of the Puerta del Sol and solidarity initiatives in other countries.
  • 21 June: A European Day of Action called for by the ETUC.
  • 1 October: a conference against austerity and privatisation in London.
  • 15 October: an international action launched by the 15 May Movement (Puerta del Sol)
  • 1 November: a demonstration against the G20 (near Cannes/Nice, in France) followed by a Peoples’ Forum.

Several paths are still being discussed:

  • Ways of opposing the Euro Pact Plus and the economic governance package by multiplying the initiatives and carrying out campaigns of information and explanation.
  • Carrying out public and citizens’ audits on the public debt in various countries followed by a European encounter to finalise the synthesis of the results and draw up common strategies to cancel the illegitimate debts of European states.
  • A variety of actions on 23 and 24 June during the meeting of the European Council on the subject of governance.
  • Reporting back the work of the conference as part of the European Social Forum process within which this initiative was started.
  • Deciding on the creation of an open and mobilising “debt and austerity” network with the aim of drawing up analyses, convergences and initiatives.

Some questions remained open in the discussion, particularly a proposal put forward by the Greek participants: should we try to develop a “common front of trade unions, movements, political forces” whose aims converge? Or the path of a “citizens’ pact” to rebuild Europe.

Contacts:

Verveine Angeli: angeli@solidaires.org

Elisabeth Gauthier: elgauthi@internatif.org

Christine Vanden Daelen: christine@cadtm.org

For more info visit Transform! website


Conference co-organisers

ATTAC (Germany, France, Hungary, Flanders, Spain), CADTM (France, Belgique, Suisse, Greece, Spain, Poland), transform! europe, Euromarches, Solidaires (France), FGTB (Belgium), EuroMemo Group, Forum Soziales Europa (trade unionist network), Joint Social Conference, TransNational Institute (TNI, Amsterdam), Network Prague Spring 2 (CEE), Greek Social ForumAustrian Social Forum, Forum Social de Belgique, Hungarian Social Forum, Espaces Marx (France), Socialismo21 (Spain), Fondation Copernic (France), Mémoire des luttes (France), Patas Arriba, Nicos Poulantzas Institute (Greece), Society for European Dialogue (SPED, Czech Republic), Initiative des femmes en mouvement contre la dette et les plans d’austérité, transform! Brussels, World March of Women, Rood (Flanders), Coalition of Resistance (UK), WIDE – Women in Development Europe, Realpe – European network of progressive local deputies, cgt-fsu-solidaires du Havre de grève, and Mesas ciudadanas por la Convergencia y la Accion.

Have also participated: European Association for the Defence of Human Rights/Association Européenne pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme (AEDH); European Feminist Initiative; Ligue des Droits de l’Homme (France), Fédération Syndicale Unitaire (FSU, France), and trade unionists from different countries.

ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ ASEAN People’s Forum (ACSC/APF) 3-5 May 2011, Indonesia

Event website: http://www.aseancivilsociety.net


INTRODUCTION

After being in its existence since 1967, symptoms ASEAN now is in the critical juncture of living and working in a fast changing regional and international environment. The increased reputation of ASEAN has invited great political and economic powers such as China, Japan, generic India and United States, to establish regional cooperation with ASEAN. Unity, strengthening the mechanisms for cooperation and maintaining an image of being a neutral negotiator among the great powers could provide the occasion in retaining the driver’s seat in Asian regional cooperation. More importantly, ASEAN needs to be attentive to the population’s voice and engage them in meaningful ways. If ASEAN wants to be relevant, credible and trustworthy now and in the future, it is imperative that ASEAN should not left the people behind.

In fact, one of the purposes of ASEAN is to “promote a people-oriented ASEAN in which all sectors of society are encouraged to participate in, and benefit from, the process of ASEAN integration and community building” as stipulated in the Article 1.13 of the ASEAN Charter that was ratified by ten Member States in 2008. Furthermore, the Charter also formalises the commitment of the ASEAN member states to democracy, human rights, fundamental freedoms, rule of law, good governance, constitutional government and social justice.

One and the most challenging tasks of ASEAN is to maintain its significance and accountability to its own people. ASEAN has hardly been monitored, assessed or evaluated by its people because many did not see it as their importance. The creation of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) on October 23, 2009 and the ASEAN Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) on April 7, 2010 was seen as one of the windows of opportunities for engagement and a test to democracy building commitment as enshrined in the ASEAN Charter.

For ASEAN to pass this test, the Association needs to ensure the effective participation of civil society with its sectoral bodies and human rights mechanisms, both in the process of establishing and decision making following the principle of transparent and inclusiveness. ASEAN human rights bodies have to be independent and impartial with monitoring power attached to the body. In sum, the legitimacy of ASEAN, its sectoral organ and its human rights mechanisms need to be assessed against normative democratic principle. Democratic legitimacy requires public justification of the process, results and impact from those who are affected by the policy implementation. Hence, justification demands spaces to practice the participation, accountability and responsibility. In this end, engaging civil society should be seen as one of the elements to ensure the democratic legitimacy of the ASEAN.

Peoples’ engagement with ASEAN is, actually, not a new issue. It has been well-recorded that since 1972, ASEAN created a Chambers of Commerce and Industry to be a channel for the business community’s concerns and inputs on various regional economic issues to the ASEAN and its member governments. Since 1988, ASEAN has been engaging with ISIS/Institutes for Strategic and International Studies in facilitating solutions for ASEAN governments. In 2003, the ASEAN Business Advisory Council/ABAC offered an official linkage for private sector feedback and guidance to boost ASEAN’s efforts towards economic integration, and to identify priority areas for consideration by ASEAN leaders.

Furthermore, there are number of civil society engagement practices that have been organized within the sectoral organs as a way to exchange views on ASEAN policies such as the GO-NGO forum in accordance with the annual meeting of Senior Official Meeting of Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD) and also in the process of deliberation of the ASEAN Task Force on HIV/Aids.

ASEAN CIVIL SOCIETY CONFERENCE

During the 11th ASEAN Summit (2005) in Shah Alam, Malaysia, the ASEAN Chair (Malaysia) introduced the ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC) as a venue for civil society to get organized and build unity among them. This event becomes the annual gathering of civil society in ASEAN which its location follows the chairmanship of ASEAN. The second ACSC was conducted in Cebu, the Philippines (2006). Tagging along the Philippines, Singapore was the host for the third ACSC (2007) and Thailand (Bangkok and Cha-Am) was the organizer for the fourth and the fifth (2009). In 2010, Vietnam (Hanoi) organized the sixth ACSC with the name of ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (APF) and the Chair expressed the appreciation of holding the event. Furthermore, the Chair said “… and took note of valuable inputs and suggestions from different sectors of society in ASEAN in the process of building an ASEAN Community” (Chairman’s Statement, 17th ASEAN Summit, Hanoi, 28 October 2010)[1].

Each ACSC has attracted participants from ten member countries of ASEAN and beyond. There were about 1,020 participants from all around the world attended the 4th and 5th ACSC in Thailand. To ensure that the ACSC is the gathering of civil society from ASEAN member countries, there was a policy to secure and prioritize seats for participants from the ten member states. The 2011 ACSC/APF (Jakarta, Indonesia) targets 1,200 participants, which 500 participants will come from Indonesia alone.

For the past six years, ACSC has been the biggest gathering of civil society in ASEAN. It has contributed to the raising awareness among civil society organizations from ten member countries about ASEAN, its processes, mechanisms and activities. It has also spotted the different character of Track II and Track III’s engagement. Among other things, it has been the venue for regional inter-sectoral networking and dialogue across the whole wide range regional advocacy activities and issues such as development, human rights, women’s empowerments, child protection, poverty eradication, climate change, social protection, the protection of migrant workers, fisheries and agricultures, freedom of information, the rights of ethnic minorities, and environment issue.

From time to time, the theme and ways of organizing ACSC changes along with the dynamic of domestic (the country of ASEAN chair) context, the level of civil society’s knowledge on ASEAN, and the current and emerging issue and development in ASEAN. However, it can be noted that from having the ACSC for 7 years/times, there are common features captured in each event: a) it is organized as parallel process to ASEAN Summit, b) Includes the interface with the ASEAN Head of States (although it has been negotiated but not always granted), c) has been shifted from State-led process to civil society-led process (which indicate the ownership and interest of civil society to ASEAN Community building processes), d) it is an open process to all civil society organizations, e) country and thematic workshops will be organized prior to the ACSC and f) it resulted to Recommendation to address regional issues for ASEAN Leaders.

One of the recommendations from the 2nd ACSC was to have country and thematic workshops as a preparatory session to the ACSC. Since then key organizations have spearheaded and put in resources and organize numerous workshops on ASEAN and reached out to as many people as possible to raise awareness on ASEAN. As a result, today, the number of civil society organizations in ten ASEAN member states continues to grow in term of quantity and quality. Linking country (national) and thematic workshops with regional event like ACSC has been seen as one of the most effective ways to improve the interaction of people-to-people in ASEAN.

ACSC/APF has also generated a number of networking and learning circles among the people and civil society organizations across countries in ASEAN. After ACSC/APF, many groups jointly organized several activities, conducted regional research on issues that they concerned the most and also hold the people-to-people exchange program. ACSC has allowed the opportunity of building a mutual understanding and trust among people in ASEAN.

As Indonesia is the chair of ASEAN for 2011, the group of civil society will be hosting the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (ACSC/APF) 2011 from 3rd to 5th May 2011 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Several consolidation and preparatory meetings both at Sub-regions, National, and Regional levels have been conducted by the host countries.

OBJECTIVES

The objectives of the ACSC/APF 2011 are:

  1. to secure and strengthen critical engagement with ASEAN;
  2. to call upon ASEAN leaders and governments to promote a genuinely people-centered ASEAN;
  3. to present demands of people’s movements and civil society struggles in the region to ASEAN leaders;
  4. to enhance mutual understanding and build solidarity, unity, and cooperation among the peoples of South East Asia in the process of community building;
  5. to share lessons learnt from past successes and failures of advocacy in engaging the ASEAN; and
  6. to strengthen the people’s struggles and transform them into coordinated actions and increase solidarity at national and regional levels among stakeholders

THEME

“Claiming a People-Centered ASEAN for a Just Global Community”


SEE PROGRAMME

SEE FINAL STATEMENT

SEE Focus on the Global South analysis of the ACSC/APF 2011


Seminar "Envisioning New South Asia: People’s Perspectives" (18-19 Jan 2011, Dhaka, Bangladesh)

For more information on People’s SAARC: http://peoplesaarc.blogspot.com

PSAARC Seminar ? Dhaka, Bangladesh ? January 18-19, 2011

Envisioning New South Asia: People’s Perspectives

Regional Integration as a Response to Hegemony and the Crisis

Jenina Joy Chavez ? Focus on the Global South

Good morning. It is an honor to participate in the People’s SAARC Seminar, and to be back in Bangladesh after almost 12 years. It is also a privilege to be given the opportunity to observe the continuing process you are undertaking, in refining a people’s vision for a new South Asia.

This morning, I would like to contribute some thoughts on why it is high time regionalism is seriously considered, and how the people should claim and redefine it.


Asia Update

For more than three years now, the world has been nursing a financial crisis that ate at the backbone of the global economy. As a result, world output slowed down in 2007 and 2008, and contracted by 0.8% in 2009, with global trade in goods and services contracting by 12.3% in the same year. (IMF, WEO Update, January 26, 2010) This meant the contraction of incomes and employment, and consequently of living standards across the world.


The global economic contraction did not hit the Asia region as much, and in the case of East Asia, not in the same depth as the 1997 financial crisis affected the region (which did not affect South Asia at all). Last year, global output was projected to grow by 3.9%, but growth estimates for developing Asia was more than double at 8.4%. The estimate for Japan was a slower 1.7%, but this was after several years of negative growth. (IMF, Ibid.) Asia still hosts one of the most robust productive capacities worldwide – that is, the real economy remains the most significant feature of Asia’s growth and development. This accounts for Asia’s relative resilience in this crisis.


However, while Asia has avoided the shock that hit North America and Western Europe, the slowdown in these regions means that Asia will have to look for new ways to restart its growth. And that is why, by 2010, many Asian free trade agreements have come on stream, either partly or fully: the ASEAN-China FTA, the ASEAN-Korea FTA, the ASEAN-India FTA, and the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. The same arguments raised about global free trade hold true in the case of Asian FTAs. But an added dimension to these agreements is that they are negotiated and signed between countries or groups of countries where democratic practices like consultation, freedom of information, and people’s participation are weak, or non-existent.


When we talk of Asia, we must remember that we are also talking about huge disparities within and among countries, of varying levels of development and variable economic structures. For instance, unemployment could be as good as only 1.4% in Thailand and Bhutan; and could be as bad as 9.8% in Indonesia and 14.4% in the Maldives. ASEAN has sharper income gaps than SAARC – the highest per capita income (Brunei US$49,370 PPP) is 66 times the lowest (Myanmar US$750 PPP); whereas in SAARC it is only 6 times (Afghanistan US$881 PPP versus the Maldives US$5,027 PPP). However, SAARC has higher incidence of and deeper poverty, as well as ranks lower in terms of human development.


The region also hosts many countries most vulnerable to climate change. It is common to hear these days how the Maldives, for instance, is at risk of being totally submerged in water; or how the Philippines despite contributing very little to carbon emission ranks high in vulnerability. Huge populations, water scarcity and climate change also affect capacities of countries to produce its own food. India, for instance, has experienced crop failures for eight consecutive years, miring people deeper in debt, and resulting in around 200,000 farmer suicides since 1997.


South and Southeast Asia are also cited for the high incidence of what even the World Bank recognizes as global land garb. Yet, the actions of governments give us reason to worry. In 2009, it was reported that the Pakistani Government offered more than 400,000 hectares of farmland for sale or lease to foreign investors. The Philippines also signed 19 memoranda of agreement with China for the use of one million hectares of farmland for food production for Chinese consumption.


In 2010, warnings were issued about a potential water war between India and Pakistan, adding to existing conflict points between the two countries. And as water scarcity becomes an increasing concern for many, more such warnings may be heard in the years to come.


These snippets of information are significant because they show the common concerns that plague countries in the region, on the one hand; and the inadequacy of their actions. They also highlight the need for and the potential of regionalism as a response to address various problems that have already reached crisis proportions.


Why Regionalism?

Questions have been raised about the ability of global forces to deliver global welfare. Global mechanisms have been set up to address the concerns arising out of globalization, but they are deemed inadequate or unable to respond to all of the issues all of the time. There is consensus that the global economy needs a stronger social dimension (e.g. the work of ILO and UNDP), but the lack of democracy in global institutions frustrates the social aspects of globalization. Thus, the multilateral system suffers from a twin weakness— its tendency to significantly reduce developing countries’ policy space and its lack of a development dimension. (Helleiner, 2002)


The need for more democracy highlights the importance of the region or the regional. It is an arena where inclusion / inclusiveness can be furthered; and new centers of influence are developed (Bello 2002). Regions also make possible new South-South alliances where alternative ideas to challenge dominant North-South power relations can be enhanced (Keet 2006). Moreover, regionalism offers the potential for policy autonomy in the South, through “pooling of bargaining power and negotiating skills among developing countries” (Girvan, 2005).


To reiterate, regionalism is desirable for several reasons: (1) the commonality of regional experiences and problems; (2) the inadequacy of national action; (3) the failure of and the lack of democracy in global institutions; (4) the potential for bigger policy space; and (5) the need to develop new centers of influence.


However, even as regionalism can expand the possibilities for and bring more stability and prosperity into a region, it is important to note the behavior and impact of intra-regional distribution. If done with limited focus on economic and trade integration, regionalism will unduly favor bigger regional players who are best positioned to take advantage of bigger markets. Unless regionalism embraces broader people’s concerns, it will still fail to address the issues it should, and will be in danger of going the way of most multilateral institutions – that is, captured by the richer and bigger countries that develop into regional hegemons.

 

Key Dilemmas

While it is a logical alternative, regionalism is not an easy option. There are also key dilemmas that must be resolved when embarking on regionalism:

First, there must be a balance between nationalism and the need for regional solidarity.

Second, in the same breadth, there is the need to temper sovereignty with shared responsibility.

Third, regionalism can both be a defensive and an offensive too. It can be a shield, but it can also be a weapon – and the question is when to deploy this tool.

Fourth, regionalism should evolve, from being a form of resistance, to becoming a platform for alternatives.

 

Areas for Regional Cooperation and Solidarity

There are a myriad of areas where regional cooperation and solidarity are useful:

· Regional Development that spans Regional Trade and Investment, Regional Development Finance (Resource Management), and Regional Development Policy

o Here, it is important to rationalize policy beyond competition as a framework. One could think of, for instance, regional development funds, and mechanisms to lessen the region’s dependence on the dollar or on Northern markets.

· Regional Social Policy that includes Regional rights, Regional redistribution, and Regional regulation.

o Developmentalism in ASEAN and socialist influences in SAARC are good bases for regional social policy. Regional social policy – in the form of, for instance, migration and labor policy, regional stockpiling for food security, environmental regulation, or the provision of public goods (health and education services) – also gives new direction to regional agreements, as well as helps broaden the constituency for regionalism.

· Other areas that will benefit from regional cooperation and solidarity include:

o Regional Governance (for instance, accountability and information policy)

o Regional Solidarity and People’s Diplomacy (Foreign Policy, including visa policy / movement of people)

o People’s Security (nuclear policy)

o Regional Climate Strategy, and,

o Regional Identity and Community-Building


More could be added to the list, but these are the basic ones to start on. The old neoliberal trajectory will not be enough to address the impacts of or the vulnerability to future crises. It is high time that regional solidarity is harnessed towards the creation of a new order that promotes a democratic region, in every sense.

Peoples’ Regionalism

As a final note, I wish to emphasize the important role of people in the success of regionalism.

Last December, the ASEAN Charter finished its second year and ASEAN will celebrate its 44th anniversary this year. Last year, SAARC crossed its 25th year. For a long time, civil society and social movements have ignored these associations, focusing instead on international organizations like the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the Asian Development Bank; or on identified hegemonies like the United States.


But it has become apparent that the long years of absence of scrutiny from civil society have resulted in a myriad of initiatives in the economic sphere that regional citizens are now compelled to accept, and the negative impacts of which they have to suffer.


The Asian financial and the global economic crises have shown the importance of engaging regional institutions, to monitor and check what they are doing, on the one hand; and to demand that they do more in terms of regional social policy and cooperative actions to uplift regional social standards, on the other.

The viability of any responsive regionalist project can be greatly enhanced if it is democratized. Without popular support, regional initiatives will require a long socialization process, and will remain in the confines of official diplomacy.


Resonance with the people is important. Regional bodies, or regional advocacies, should start where there is clear demand, and patent need, to make regional arrangements acceptable to the people. Migration, rights and democracy, decent living standards and environment, and the ability to generate economic activity and distribute its fruits equitably, are but some examples. There is need to also work on something that works and shows results in the immediate even as the strategic alternative structures are still being constructed. Here, regional social policy (esp. in health, labor, environment and related sectors) will go a long way.


Doing regionalism for the people is a responsibility of states and the regionalist projects, but it is upon us, the people, to reclaim and redefine it. We also have the responsibility to make sure that our voices are heard, (1) by piercing the elitist diplomatic shell of regional associations and creating spaces for ourselves; (2) by challenging the existing multilateral system and current integration models; (3) by building movements of resistance, but more importantly, movements for alternatives; and (4) by making it happen.

Working towards specific access and grievance mechanisms is important, and it is equally important to amplify economic advocacies – whether it be for increased economic space, or access to trade negotiations, or for alternative systems – at the regional level, so that the same get discussed more, and the groups advocating inspire more trust from regional officials, the media, and the regional citizenry at large. We have to recognize that our targets have regional manifestations too, and therefore, we have to give a regional expression to our aspirations.

 

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Seminar organized by People’s SAARC on 18-19 January 2011 in Dhaka on ‘Envisioning New South Asia: People’s Perspective’ discussed the possible contours of an effective SAARC Union and the possibility of a peaceful, buy discount democratic, prescription united and just South Asia.


Date/time

Programme

17 January 2011

Arrival of participants , capsule steering committee meeting

18 Jan 2011

09:00-10:00

Opening Session:

Chair: Kamla Bhasin (Ind)

Opening Remarks – Kuldip Nayar (Ind), Professor Emeritus Anisuzzaman (BD), Karamat Ali (Pak)

10:00 – 12:00

Session 1: Regional Integration in the age of Globalisation

Joy Chavez (Philippines), Sunila Abeysekera (SL), Neera Chandoke (Ind),

Moderator: Rokeya Kabir (BD)

12:00 – 13:30

Session 2: Trade and investment policy: based on cooperation and complementarity:

Aftab Aalam (Pak), Dr. Khondaker Golam Moazzem (BD),

Moderator: Gautam Modi (Ind)

13:30 – 14:30

Lunch

14:30 – 17.30

Session 3: People to People contact, Migration, and Visa Regimes

Dr. G K Chadha (Ind), Ms. Shaheen Anam (BD), Babu Mathew (Ind),

Moderator: Arjun Karki (Nep)

19 Jan 2011

09:30 – 12:00

Session 4: Conflicts: Afghanistan, Pakistan and India Region

Seema Mustafa (Ind), Raz Mohd. Dalili (Afg), Dr. Hamida Hossain (BD),

Moderator: Meena Menon (Ind)

12:00 – 13:30

Session 5: Conflicts: Ethnic and Religious

Nimalka Fernando(SL), Nurul Kabir (BD), Kamal Chenoy (Ind)

Moderator: Farooq Tariq (Pak)

13:30 – 14:30

Lunch

14:30 – 15:30

Session 6: Climate change and livelihood

Lalitha Ramdas(Ind), Netra Timsina (Nep), Reza Chowdhary (BD), Mohd. Latif (M)

Moderator: Najma Sadeq (Pak)

15:30 – 17:30

Session 7: Outlining a strategy towards a Peoples Union

Moderators: Karamat Ali (Pak), Mohiuddin Ahmad (BD)

Vote of thanks : Sarba Khadka (Nep)

Sixth ASEAN People’s Forum (APF6) Vietnam


Intervención de Pedro Páez (viernes 29 de febrero 2008) explicando las bases de la Nueva Arquitectura Financiera Regional propuesta para America Latina.
PARTE 1

PARTE 2

Intervención de Pedro Páez (viernes 29 de febrero 2008) explicando las bases de la Nueva Arquitectura Financiera Regional propuesta para America Latina.

Pedro Páez Pérez, actualmente se desempeña como Presidente de la Comisión Técnica Presidencial para el diseño de la Nueva Arquitectura Financiera Regional-Banco del Sur y es Representante Plenipotenciario del Gobierno del Ecuador para el tema de la Nueva Arquitectura Financiera. Además es Miembro de la Comisión de Expertos de la ONU precedida por el Prof. Joseph Stiglitz para el análisis y propuestas ante la Crisis Financiera Internacional.


Intervención de Pedro Páez (viernes 29 de febrero 2008) explicando las bases de la Nueva Arquitectura Financiera Regional propuesta para America Latina.
Pedro Páez Pérez, actualmente se desempeña como Presidente de la Comisión Técnica Presidencial para el diseño de la Nueva Arquitectura Financiera Regional-Banco del Sur y es Representante Plenipotenciario del Gobierno del Ecuador para el tema de la Nueva Arquitectura Financiera. Además es Miembro de la Comisión de Expertos de la ONU precedida por el Prof. Joseph Stiglitz para el análisis y propuestas ante la Crisis Financiera Internacional.
PARTE 1

PARTE 2

PARTE 3

Intervención de Pedro Páez (viernes 29 de febrero 2008) explicando las bases de la Nueva Arquitectura Financiera Regional propuesta para America Latina.

Pedro Páez Pérez, salve treatment actualmente se desempeña como Presidente de la Comisión Técnica Presidencial para el diseño de la Nueva Arquitectura Financiera Regional-Banco del Sur y es Representante Plenipotenciario del Gobierno del Ecuador para el tema de la Nueva Arquitectura Financiera. Además es Miembro de la Comisión de Expertos de la ONU precedida por el Prof. Joseph Stiglitz para el análisis y propuestas ante la Crisis Financiera Internacional.

Intervención de Pedro Páez (viernes 29 de febrero 2008) explicando las bases de la Nueva Arquitectura Financiera Regional propuesta para America Latina.

PARTE 1

PARTE 2

PARTE 3

Pedro Páez Pérez, no rx actualmente se desempeña como Presidente de la Comisión Técnica Presidencial para el diseño de la Nueva Arquitectura Financiera Regional-Banco del Sur y es Representante Plenipotenciario del Gobierno del Ecuador para el tema de la Nueva Arquitectura Financiera. Además es Miembro de la Comisión de Expertos de la ONU precedida por el Prof. Joseph Stiglitz para el análisis y propuestas ante la Crisis Financiera Internacional.

Documento borrador para discusión. El fracaso de Bretton Woods y los tres pilares de la Nueva Arquitectura Financiera Regional.
Por: Equipo Técnico Nueva Arquitectura Financiera Regional –Banco del Sur. Ecuador
Septiembre 22 de 2009

1. El Fondo Monetario Internacional y el Banco Mundial: su fracaso histórico

De la cita de Bretton Woods en las postrimeras de la Segunda Guerra Mundial surgen las instituciones llamadas a configurar los pilares del que sería el Nuevo Orden Económico Mundial sobre la base de un claro direccionamiento hacia los intereses particulares de la nación que se erguía con la hegemonía en Occidente. Es así que nace el Fondo Monetario Internacional en el pilar monetario, remedy el Banco Mundial en el pilar del desarrollo y la fallida Organización Internacional del Comercio, order
que sería sustituida por el proceso GATT – OMC, doctor en el pilar comercial.

El FMI se configuró en el objetivo específico de proveer créditos de corto plazo en divisas a los países en situaciones de problemas en sus balanzas de pagos a efectos de que puedan preservar sus niveles de reservas internacionales, y con ello la estabilidad cambiaria de sus monedas.

Cabe recordar que esta función del FMI se inscribía en el esquema monetario impuesto por el patrón oro-dólar con los Estados Unidos como emisor primario del dinero del mundo, y los demás países sujetos a un manejo monetario respaldado en sus tenencias en dólares.

Este esquema original no pudo sostenerse por la desenfrenada emisión estadounidense que le llevó a este país a un auge económico inusitado en la década de los cincuenta, a expensas de exportar su inflación al mundo volviendo insostenible el fundamento de tipos de cambio fijos.

Luego del colapso definitivo del patrón oro-dólar, para los años setenta, la liberalización cambiaria resultante hubiera significado la desaparición del FMI al extinguirse su razón de ser.

Pero la capacidad de adaptación de esta entidad y el aprovechamiento de las propias consecuencias del colapso del esquema original, le dieron nueva vida y poder.

La crisis económica de los países latinoamericanos en los ochenta, fundamentada en la crisis de su deuda externa, impulsó a que el FMI se convierta en el prestamista obligado para atender las necesidades urgentes de financiamiento de estos países sobre endeudados y con sus canales convencionales de acceso a recursos rotos. Esta coyuntura derivó en un redireccionamiento del papel del FMI, ahora convertido en el puntal del Consenso de Washington para la imposición del modelo neoliberal como opción única de manejo económico a través del condicionamiento de los recursos que esta entidad prestaba a los tan necesitados países de la Región.

La paradoja neoliberal impulsada desde el FMI obligó a que dos décadas de recuperación económica de América Latina no hayan podido aprovecharse para mejorar la calidad de vida de los más necesitados a través de un real fortalecimiento de las economías. El creciente ahorro nacional que se iba gestando de un lado gracias al sacrificio de la población, resultó en un proceso de acumulación obligado a título de alcanzar niveles “adecuados” de reservas internacionales como requisito para que por el otro lado, los países puedan recibir recursos del FMI y su aval para otros créditos de la banca multilateral de desarrollo para financiar un supuesto desarrollo económico condicionado por todos lados. Es en esta lógica del financiamiento para el desarrollo en la que se inscribe el Banco Mundial, asimismo, transmutado en su condición desde unos inicios institucionales que bien podrían haberse inscrito en esfuerzos orientados a la canalización de recursos efectivamente para impulsar a las economías más necesitadas. Pero, en el mismo contexto del Consenso de Washington vino a convertirse en otro más de los mecanismos de condicionamiento del manejo económico de los países prestatarios y altamente necesitados de recursos para su desarrollo.

En esta línea y con la condicionalidad asociada al cumplimiento de las “recetas” del FMI, el Banco Mundial juega un papel complementario en la imposición de un modelo económico tendiente a perennizar los esquemas vigentes de explotación y beneficio para unos pocos, tanto en la escala global como en la local.

Dos décadas de neoliberalismo solo afianzaron las arcaicas estructuras de subyugación económica al Norte. Se exacerbó el esquema vigente en la división internacional del trabajo.

Muchas economías de la Región evidenciaron procesos de reprimarización de su producción y de concentración de sus exportaciones en pocos productos con reducido valor agregado y pocos destinos. Asimismo, se afianzó en un círculo vicioso un progresivo deterioro de los términos de intercambio que por el lado comercial exigía cada vez más su compensación por el lado financiero a través del endeudamiento externo.

Es en esas circunstancias de desprotección y arrasamiento de las estructuras productivas que la Región ahora viene a enfrentar una crisis financiera y económica internacional de escala global en la que nuevamente sus causantes pretenden que el resto pague la factura.

Es precisamente en respuesta a este fracaso que se plantea como alternativa efectiva y soberana la configuración de una Nueva Arquitectura Financiera Regional.

2. El Banco del Sur, génesis, oportunidad histórica y necesidad de su consolidación en el contexto regional

El día 9 de diciembre de 2007, el Ecuador, junto con otros seis países sudamericanos, Argentina, Brasil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay y Venezuela, suscribió el Acta Fundacional del Banco del Sur, entidad consagrada al impulso del desarrollo económico y social desde una nueva perspectiva, acorde con las necesidades particulares de la región. Este esfuerzo ratifica la voluntad de los países de dar soluciones viables a los principales problemas que han postergado mejoras en los niveles de vida de la población y la justicia social.

El Banco del Sur surge como el eje articulador de una nueva arquitectura financiera regional (NAFR) dirigida a cubrir las necesidades del desarrollo que no han podido ser atendidas desde los espacios de acción de las entidades y organismos multilaterales que tradicionalmente han asumido ese papel. De esta manera, el Banco del Sur será el pilar de esta redefinición estructural que, junto al Fondo Común de Reservas del Sur, entidad encargada de la estabilización monetaria y cambiaria, y con la creación de una Unidad Monetaria del Sur, configurarán un nuevo esquema financiero en la Región orientado a canalizar sus propios recursos para alcanzar un desarrollo acorde con sus realidades específicas, en un marco de integración.

A través de una redefinición del papel convencional de la banca de desarrollo multilateral, el Banco del Sur viene a dar una salida a la paradoja histórica que ha condicionado el desarrollo económico y social de la Región.

La configuración de las estructuras financieras vigentes ha propiciado que países en desarrollo como el Ecuador permanentemente hayan destinado ingentes recursos privados y públicos, entre estos últimos, principalmente las inversiones de sus reservas internacionales, hacia entidades e instrumentos financieros de países del Primer Mundo, a la par que las necesidades de financiamiento para su propio desarrollo, especialmente las de los sectores más deprimidos y vulnerables de la sociedad, han sido insuficientemente satisfechas a través de un continuo endeudamiento con los organismos multilaterales tradicionales y, muchas veces, condicionadas a intereses ajenos a los objetivos nacionales y regionales.

Además, al constituirse el Banco del Sur como una entidad de carácter regional con el aporte de países que comparten intereses y necesidades similares, no solo queda demostrada su capacidad de impulsar su propio desarrollo, sino que se excluye cualquier posibilidad de injerencia de terceros, ahora casi una norma bajo las estructuras vigentes debido a la participación accionaria mayoritaria de países exógenos a la Región en la actual banca de desarrollo multilateral. En esa misma línea, el Banco del Sur no solo circunscribe el financiamiento del desarrollo a los intereses nacionales de sus miembros, sino que su gobernanza se enmarca en un manejo democrático en que la participación de cada país en las decisiones no estará condicionada a la proporción de su aporte en el capital de la entidad.

La definición de los criterios sustanciales para el impulso al desarrollo que se dará desde el Banco del Sur se asienta en el planteamiento de nuevas prioridades. Primeramente, la denominada soberanía alimentaria define como un eje fundamental del desarrollo de los países su capacidad de atender las necesidades alimentarias de la población desde su propia producción, privilegiando a los productos autóctonos de la región, sin depender de importaciones, de recursos externos o de condicionamientos exógenos y fuera del control de las acciones de política interna.

Asimismo, la soberanía energética, también definida como una condición inobjetable del desarrollo económico, apunta a consolidar la capacidad de los países de aprovechar sus propios recursos energéticos renovables y no renovables sobre la base de sus necesidades y con independencia de otras fuentes externas, respetando al medio ambiente y minimizando el impacto ecológico resultante de su obtención y utilización.

De la misma manera, considerando el papel fundamental de salud en el desarrollo de los pueblos, la acción del Banco del Sur se orientará a garantizar a la población de los países de la Región el acceso a medicamentos de marca y genéricos, a costos asequibles y de producción local, que principalmente combatan enfermedades endémicas para las cuales la oferta convencional desde las grandes casas farmacéuticas del mundo desarrollado no atiende adecuadamente por no tratarse de mercados de alta rentabilidad.

En este mismo espacio, también se encuentra el apoyo a la investigación sobre prácticas médicas ancestrales, incluyendo a los conocimientos agrícolas y ecológicos de los pueblos nativos.

En el conjunto de estas nuevas prioridades, el Banco del Sur también promoverá el desarrollo de instrumentos y mercados post Kyoto a efectos de perfeccionar mecanismos financieros dirigidos a precautelar el medio ambiente y a la protección del acervo ecológico de la Región.

Las acciones del Banco del Sur se enmarcarán en propiciar una nueva dinámica entre Estado, economía popular y empresas, a efectos de potenciar el desarrollo de los países de la Región sobre una base de inclusión de todos los actores productivos.

Por otra parte, si bien décadas atrás, las acciones de la banca multilateral de desarrollo se orientaban hacia el impulso a sectores que bien podían entenderse como dinamizadores del desarrollo económico de los países receptores, desde hace algún tiempo estos esfuerzos más bien se han orientado a financiar la reforma institucional de los Estados nacionales en el marco de políticas específicas originadas en los centros de poder en el mundo sobre las bases de sus propios intereses geoestratégicos. Pero ahora cuando las necesidades de los pueblos demandan nuevos horizontes en una coyuntura que coinciden los gobiernos de varios países enmarcados en una visión divergente de la línea neoliberal prevaleciente en la Región durante más de dos décadas, y más allá todavía, el momento y las condiciones están dados para impulsar una nueva arquitectura financiera.

3. El Fondo Común de Reservas del Sur como pilar de la estabilidad monetaria y cambiaria de la Región

En el marco de la redefinición estructural hacia una nueva arquitectura financiera regional, además del Banco del Sur como pilar fundamental a través de su papel de banca de desarrollo, es también indispensable establecer los mecanismos tendientes a propiciar la estabilidad monetaria y cambiaria de los países miembros, en cumplimiento de los condicionantes mínimos que permitan alcanzar el objetivo de la integración a través de la profundización del comercio intrarregional, así como el establecimiento de mecanismos dirigidos a precautelar y apuntalar las reservas monetarias de los países de la Región, en especial, ante los embates de crisis financieras de carácter global. Es en este sentido que se configurará el Fondo Común de Reservas del Sur, como eje articulador de los instrumentos y acciones destinados a precautelar los niveles de reservas internacionales de los países miembros, a través del uso de recursos de la propia Región, en sustitución de los mecanismos convencionales que caracterizaron la dependencia financiera y de las políticas económicas nacionales a los dictados del Fondo Monetario Internacional.

El Fondo Común de Reservas del Sur incorporará mecanismos dirigidos a que los países miembros puedan mantener sus reservas internacionales en niveles adecuados en caso de enfrentar impactos derivados de crisis financieras locales o externas, así como instrumentos que otorguen las seguridades suficientes para que los bancos centrales puedan enfrentar estos problemas sin requerir del mantenimiento de niveles de reservas muy elevados invertidos en el exterior a costa de que parte de esos recursos puedan canalizarse hacia el financiamiento del desarrollo local.

4. La Unidad de Cuenta en el marco de un Sistema de Pagos Regional

Asimismo, en el marco de la NAFR se evidencia la necesidad de contar con un sistema de pagos regional, con la utilización de una unidad de cuenta regional con el propósito de favorecer la utilización de las monedas locales de los países miembros para la realización de los pagos internacionales. La unidad de cuenta regional se plantea con el claro propósito de desacoplar al comercio intrarregional de la lógica del dólar en un esfuerzo para reducir los costos cambiarios y de transacciones, a efectos de su potenciación como uno de los elementos sustantivos en los esfuerzos dirigidos hacia la integración.

La unidad de cuenta regional es el primer paso dirigido a consolidar en el largo plazo una moneda única regional, de manera consistente con las tendencias mundiales en que se impone la conformación de grandes áreas monetarias, como es el caso actual de Europa con el euro.

En este sentido, ya se ha avanzado con la propuesta del Sistema Único de Compensación Regional (SUCRE) en el que la definición del sistema de pagos para el comercio intrarregional se ha establecido en conjunción con las entidades de financiamiento para el desarrollo inscritas en la NAFR. Con ello, el sistema no se limita a un esquema convencional de compensación de pagos internacionales, más bien, abre la posibilidad de incorporar mecanismos tendientes hacia la ampliación del intercambio intrarregional, fundamentado en el aprovechamiento de las complementariedades productivas en procura de convergencia al equilibrio comercial.

Para ello, se configurará al “sucre” como la unidad de cuenta regional y se establecerán los mecanismos para la definición de los tipos de cambio bilaterales con las respectivas monedas de los países participantes, que serán los medios de pago locales con los que se realizarán las transacciones comerciales internacionales. El sistema de pagos y la unidad de cuenta regional son instrumentos que deberán enmarcarse en un espacio más amplio de políticas comerciales nacionales orientadas hacia los objetivos de integración regional, sobre la base de la redefinición de la división internacional del trabajo, en franca intención de reducir la dependencia comercial bajo el esquema Norte-Sur en el que nuestros países han sido históricos exportadores de materias primas y productos con reducido valor agregado, e importadores de productos industrializados y tecnológicos, con los consecuentes efectos de un deterioro progresivo de los términos de intercambio. Por ello, esta redefinición comercial, asentada en la potenciación de la complementariedad productiva de la Región y viabilizada a través de los instrumentos monetarios regionales, se orientará a reforzar la relación Sur-Sur.

5. Conveniencia de crear un centro alternativo para la solución de las diferencias en materia de inversiones (CIADI alternativo)

En los sesentas el mundo vivía procesos de descolonización por lo que la preocupación central de los inversionistas extranjeros fue la de diseñar mecanismos para defenderse de las expropiaciones y nacionalizaciones confiscatorias. Para resolver esta dificultad, en 1964, el Banco Mundial propuso la creación del Centro de Arreglo de Diferencias Relativas a Inversiones (CIADI).

El CIADI nació como una alternativa excepcional, originariamente como un instrumento defensivo para las inversiones extranjeras, pero desde los años noventa, cuando se dio una ola de ajustes estructurales, privatizaciones y una proliferación de tratados bilaterales de inversión, TBIs, el CIADI empezó a utilizarse como un instrumento ofensivo ampliando el concepto de “expropiación indirecta” a la aplicación de normas legales por parte del Estado receptor de la inversión en su territorio. De esta manera se limitó la capacidad regulatoria de los Estados y en suma se redujo los espacios de políticas públicas.

El CIADI, en la actualidad, se ha transformado en un instrumento ofensivo, pues asegura grandes réditos para las multinacionales, más allá de que éstas verdaderamente inviertan y generen riqueza y trabajo como reza el discurso neoliberal.

De acuerdo a la UNCTAD, en 2007, se estima que al menos 35 nuevos casos (inversionista – Estado) fueron presentados en virtud de la suscripción de TBI’s, de los cuales, 27 fueron interpuestos ante el CIADI. De estos 35 casos 17 se presentaron en contra de los países en desarrollo, 7 en contra de los países en transición y 11 contra los países desarrollados.

En materia de inversiones, según UNCTAD, se prefiere al foro del CIADI, pues el número de controversias presentados ante el CIADI llegaron a 182, las controversias bajo el arbitraje con normas de la Comisión de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Derecho Mercantil Internacional (CNUDMI) ascendió a 80, la Cámara de Comercio de Estocolmo recibió 14 casos, la Cámara de Comercio Internacional recibió 5 casos, en arbitraje ad-hoc se presentaron 5 controversias, y otros 4 casos fueron presentados ante la Corte Permanente de Arbitraje y el Centro Regional de El Cairo.

El CIADI es totalmente dependiente del Banco Mundial, y por lo tanto de los intereses que este Banco representa. El Vicepresidente del Banco Mundial funge como Secretario General del CIADI y el Presidente del Banco, preside el Consejo Administrativo del CIADI, pudiendo designar árbitros conciliadores en los diferendos.

Por otro lado, el alto riesgo de conflicto de intereses, en torno al CIADI puede verificarse en la designación de árbitros, quienes suelen ser abogados vinculados con las transnacionales.

Los mecanismos de solución de controversias tienen un elevado costo para los países receptores.

El principio universal del derecho Non Bis In Idem, según el cuál no se puede juzgar a alguien dos veces por la misma causa, no es respetado por el CIADI, ya que del arbitraje que surge de los TBIs, el doble juzgamiento por la misma causa es posible y sucede.

El proceso de resquebrajamiento de la institucionalidad neoliberal, al tiempo de mostrar las graves deficiencias del sistema de administración de justicia del CIADI, genera la necesidad de proponer un sistema de solución de controversias alternativo a este mecanismo. Esta propuesta, asentada en el respecto estricto a los derechos fundamentales y a los principios generales del derecho, fue acogida en el marco de la UNASUR, con la aprobación de su Consejo de Ministros de Relaciones Exteriores de una resolución por medio de la que se constituyó un Grupo de Trabajo, que tiene como objetivo crear dicho mecanismo.

Para que este objetivo pueda alcanzarse, el primer paso está en que los países que forman parte de esta iniciativa denuncien el Tratado de Washington que crea el CIADI.

Seguidamente, deberán realizar una revisión a fondo de cada uno de los tratados bilaterales que han suscrito y que se encuentran en plena vigencia, y se entre a un proceso de renegociación en los casos que sean necesarios –la principal vía de acceso al CIADI son los TBIs, y las demandas a los Estados se basan en las cláusulas de estos contratos.

El sistema a configurarse no puede reproducir los errores criticados, tanto más cuando la realización de la justicia debe ser su objetivo primordial, por lo que debe considerarse:
– El respeto estricto a los derechos fundamentales y a los principios generales del derecho.
– Una definición apropiada de inversión.
– Que el arbitraje internacional es un mecanismo de solución de controversias de carácter excepcional y alternativo;
– Que solo podrá ser activado debido al consentimiento claro y expreso de las partes;
– Que el tratamiento adecuado del conflicto de intereses como una estrategia preventiva anticorrupción, es un elemento indispensable.
– Que la posibilidad de revisión de los fallos debe existir;
– Que la rendición de cuentas debe ser completa;
– Que la consecuencia de los actos reprochables de los operadores de justicia deben derivar en responsabilidades administrativas y civiles.

Esta propuesta se asienta en el respeto estricto a los derechos fundamentales y a los principios generales del derecho. A partir de aquello, se propone la construcción de un mecanismo de carácter excepcional y alternativo, donde la piedra angular para activarlo sea la voluntad libre y expresa de las partes involucradas; además de la delimitación del verdadero alcance del concepto de inversión; un adecuado tratamiento del conflicto de intereses como una estrategia preventiva anticorrupción, para lo cual se propone el establecimiento de un tribunal permanente que administre justicia con las consecuentes responsabilidades de su actuación, la posibilidad de revisión de sus fallos o laudos a través de un recurso de apelación; un mecanismo accesible por sus costos. En definitiva un sistema alternativo transparente de administración de justicia.

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ASEAN PEOPLE’S FORUM 2010

CONCEPT PAPER

I. Introduction

ASEAN has started implementing its Charter and a roadmap toward becoming a community by 2015. This process has direct impacts on all people in ASEAN, sale and requires the participation of the people of ASEAN countries as active subjects. Regional integration should begin with and be based on the people’s integration.

One such initiative for people’s integration into the life of ASEAN has been the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN Peoples’ Forum, prostate a regional forum organised in connection with the annual ASEAN Summit. The ACSC/APF was initiated by Malaysia in 2005, and organised in the Philippines in 2006, Singapore in 2007, and Thailand in 2009. This year, in 2010, the ASEAN People’s Forum is organised in Vietnam.

The ASEAN People’s Forum (APF) is organised in this context to help strengthen solidarity and cooperation among the ASEAN people for promoting a really people-oriented ASEAN community, for the common benefit of ASEAN people.

For the APF to be a forum where the genuine voice of the ASEAN people is heard, it should in the first place ensure participation by representatives from wide walks of life and people’s organisations, including mass organizations, social movements, NGOs, etc., in ASEAN, and guarantee the ownership of people’s organisations from ASEAN member countries in all management and decision-making processes.

To ensure the Forum’s efficiency and achievement of its proposed objectives, it should be organised and conducted democratically on the basis of clearly defined and transparent regulations, and have effective coordinative relations with official ASEAN channels.

In that spirit, the following Concept Paper on the ASEAN People’s Forum 2010 in Vietnam was elaborated by the Vietnam Organising Committee and adopted by the 1st Preparatory Consultative Meeting for the APF 2010 held in Hanoi, May 29-30, 2010:

II. Objectives

The objectives of the Forum are:

a. To exchange information and share experience with a view to enhancing mutual understanding, solidarity, linkage and unity among social movements and people’s organisations of ASEAN countries.

b. To exchange ideas on proactive, active and constructive measures targeting coordinated actions by ASEAN people’s organisations to cope with common challenges in the process of building the ASEAN community.

c. To enhance people’s participation in decision-making processes of ASEAN through advocacy and monitoring activities, making recommendations to ASEAN leaders for building a people-oriented ASEAN.

III. Title, Theme and Contents

a. The Forum’s title should be simple, clear and understandable to ordinary people of all ASEAN countries, while ensuring continuity for the process of shaping and development of the event. The Forum shall, therefore, be titled as follows:

“The 6th ASEAN People’s Forum”

b. To achieve the Forum’s objectives, contributing thereby to enhancing solidarity and coordinating actions among ASEAN people’s organisations, the Forum shall be themed as follows:

“Solidarity and Action for a people-oriented ASEAN”

c. The Forum’s contents shall be defined as follows:

– Formal Forum activities (except the session on understanding the host country) shall encompass issues common to the region and of interest to people’s organisations of ASEAN countries.

– Attention shall be given to discussions and recommendations related to major issues on the agenda of the ASEAN Summit and CS engagement with ASEAN.

– Concrete topics shall be detailed in the process of preparation for the Forum on the basis of proposals from people’s organisations of ASEAN countries.

IV. Participants

· Delegates shall be representatives of people’s organisations of ASEAN countries and of regional organisations and networks whose memberships include and are based on people’s organisations of ASEAN countries. People’s organisations from one and the same ASEAN country shall work in broad coordination and unity in the process of preparation for and participation in the Forum; and nominate representatives of social groups, especially organisations of workers, farmers, women, youth, ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, etc…, to participate in the Forum.

· Observers shall be representatives of regional and international NGOs having interest in and partnership with people’s organisations of ASEAN countries.

· Guests: The Forum wishes to have the participation of representatives of the ASEAN Secretariat (ASEC), of the Governments of ASEAN countries, and of non-ASEAN partner organisations having cooperative relations with people’s organisations of ASEAN countries.

· Mass media workers from Vietnam, other ASEAN countries, and elsewhere.

The number of participants is estimated at 500-600 (about 200 Vietnamese and 300-400 foreigners).

V. Working Mechanism

The Forum’s working apparatus shall include the following:

1. The Steering Committee (SC) shall make decisions on general issues and programs of the Forum, exercise overall administration of the Forum, organise all plenaries and other important activities at the Forum; represent the Forum in its cooperation with non-Forum partners; and handle relations with the mass media.

The Steering Committee shall be composed of 10 persons, each representing people’s organisations from one of the 10 ASEAN countries and nominated by them.

The Steering Committee shall also include up to 3 representatives of regional and international organisations built around thematic issues related to the Forum, and shall be nominated through an open and broad consultation process organised by them.

2. The Program Committee (PC) shall design, and submit for approval by the Steering Committee, programs of Forum activities; organise their implementation after approval; and assist participating organisations in deploying approved activities.

The Program Committee shall be composed of 10 persons, each representing people’s organisations from one of the 10 ASEAN countries and nominated by them.

The Program Committee shall also include up to 4 representatives of regional and international organisations built around thematic issues related to the Forum, and shall be nominated through an open and broad consultation process organised by them.

3. The Drafting Committee (DC) shall be responsible for drafting the final document of the Forum; and shall be composed of 10 persons, each representing people’s organisations from one of the 10 ASEAN countries and nominated by them.

The Drafting Committee shall also include up to 3 representatives of regional and international organisations built around thematic issues related to the Forum, and shall be nominated through an open and broad consultation process organised by them.

4. The Logistics Committee (LC) shall be in charge of logistical issues related to the Forum, and mainly the responsibility of the Organising Committee (OC) of the host country.

The Logistics Committee shall establish a Fund-raising Group consisting of representatives of the host country’s Organising Committee and certain other organisations in ASEAN having good relations with potential sponsors.

Basic working mechanism:

o All committees shall work on the principle of consensus among the nominated representatives of people’s organisations of the 10 ASEAN countries participating in the committees.

o All committees should ensure women’s participation in their composition.

o Due to the special role and responsibility of the host country, representatives of the host country’s Organising Committee shall be heads of committees.

o Each committee shall have its specific regulations on method of work and rules of procedure.

o Nominated representatives of regional/international organisations shall be entitled to participate in the committees’ work but without decision-making right, while representatives of people’s organisations of ASEAN countries shall have full rights, including decision-making right.

o In case people’s organisations from one and the same country cannot agree on the nomination of their representative to a committee, either of the following options shall be taken into consideration:

§ The country concerned shall not be represented on the committee in question;

§ From the country concerned, there could be more than one representatives, with speaking but no decision-making rights.

o The final document shall be drafted by the Drafting Committee, and presented to a plenary session for adoption by Forum participants on the principle of consensus. The Forum may mandate the Drafting Committee to finalise the draft and make decisions on the principle of consensus within the Committee. Consensus shall be required for an amendment to be incorporated in the final document.

VI. Program Structure

· Opening session (organised by the hosts and the Steering Committee).

· Plenary session: Understanding the host country (organised by the hosts).

· Other plenary sessions: Presentation and discussion of the main issues. These sessions shall consist of experts’ presentations and discussions, and shall be organised and chaired by the Steering Committee with assistance from the Program Committee.

· Thematical workshops/Strategy meetings shall be organised by the Program Committee in cooperation with registering organisations, and shall give priority in time to exchanges of ideas, sharings of experience, networking for joint actions, and discussions among participants.

· Solidarity Evening (organised by the hosts with assistance from the Program Committee).

· Plenary Session for adoption of the final document (chaired by the Steering Committee with assistance from the Drafting Committee).

· Closing Ceremony (organised by the hosts and the Steering Committee).

VII. Relationships with Official ASEAN Channels

The building of an ASEAN community requires efficient cooperation between the Governments and people’s organisations of ASEAN countries. The ASEAN People’s Forum should, therefore, make efforts to establish and develop constructive relationships with official ASEAN channels by the following main measures:

– To work for close cooperation with the ASEAN Secretariat, and seek its participation in the preparation for and holding of the Forum.

– To approach and cooperate with official ASEAN channels in a spirit of constructiveness and mutual respect.

– To strive for an appropriate form of interface with leaders of ASEAN countries to present them with Forum recommendations. In case of interface, Forum representatives shall respect protocol regulations. Agreement and consensus shall be required from both sides for the selection of participants in and the program of the interface.

– To encourage people’s networks and organisations of ASEAN countries to take measures for cooperation with ASEAN-related agencies and officials in their respective countries in the process of preparation for and holding of the Forum with a view to making it a success.

For further information visit APF6 website

Asean People's Forum (APF) Economic Pillar Plenary Report: "Deconstructing the ASEAN Economic Ambition, A Conversation among Advocates, Analysts and Activists"

The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) vision talks about a stable, check prosperous, try and highly competitive region, with equitable economic development, and reduced poverty and economic disparities. Its goal is to hasten complete liberalization and opening up of the regional economy by 2015.
However, this framework of a competitive market economy which mainly benefits MNCs/TNCs in developed countries has long been criticized. In addition, it has only benefited developed ASEAN countries and has undermined developing countries within the region – thereby exacerbating regional asymmetries, leading to greater poverty and inequality. The economic integration model pursued by ASEAN has negatively impacted its working peoples and their families where working conditions, livelihoods and living standards have deteriorated.

Urgent Issues
(1) ASEAN’s ambitious trade and investment deals, coupled with the weakening of regulations at the national and regional levels has led to the worsening of poverty and inequality in the region, especially among small farmers, indigenous peoples, small fishers, labor and migrant workers, people with disabilities, women, and youth.
(2) ASEAN’s processes in relation to the economic pillar have been the most secretive. There has been no participation of and consultation with civil society, much more with the grassroots people directly affected by their economic policies. Likewise, the impacts of economic integration are not closely monitored and review mechanisms are unclear.
(3) Issues of civil society, in particular migrant workers, women, youth and people with disability, are not holistically integrated in the ASEAN community pillars. These are mainly boxed in the socio-cultural pillar instead of the economic. Yet many of the economic investments in the region are taking place at the expense of ASEAN’s working peoples. Legal frameworks at national and regional levels are also not keeping up to protect their rights and livelihoods.

Recommendations
(1) ASEAN must give priority to building a people’s community and recognize the potentials of grassroots/alternative economies. It should support and provide the legal framework to promote local people’s initiatives, identify good models and replicate them. It should invest in capacitating people to participate in trade instead of favoring MNCs and TNCs. ASEAN should review the impact of all agreements it has signed, together with the people. Its economic integration must become a means to allow people to live well and enable developing countries and marginalized communities to achieve sustainable development.
(2) Its economic policies must be responsive to sensitive sectors important to food sovereignty, biodiversity and people’s livelihood. The vulnerable sectors must be given a stronger voice in ASEAN economic investment policy-making because these impact on their lives and livelihoods. TNCs cannot be the drivers of caring and sharing communities. Indigenous knowledge economies based on solidarity economy such as micro-finance institutions, cooperatives, small farmers/producers organizations, marketing groups, and various resource management schemes by indigenous peoples have long been established and ASEAN only needs to build on these gains by the people.
(3) We urge ASEAN to recognize the role of civil society and institutionalize their participation in building a democratic, just, and “people-centered” ASEAN. ASEAN must maximize consultation with involved and concerned sectors during the entire policy formulation process – from the creation of working groups, preparation of drafts and actual policy implementation. Feedback and evaluation of effectiveness of policies must involve the people.
(4) We appeal for support for the ASEAN Framework Instrument on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers. ASEAN needs to recognize all peoples of ASEAN communities, including the problems of stateless workers. ASEAN should pursue the framework of Development and Migration as a means of reducing barriers to migration and creating more positive effects for development.
(5) We demand the attention and action of ASEAN on the causes of small fisherfolks which are hardly heard at the regional level. The Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) in particular has the objective of preserving fishing grounds in the region yet there is no representation by small fishers in the body. Further, we reiterate our call to ASEAN to establish a Council for Small Farmers/Producers and Fishers, and an Agricultural Policy that upholds their economic rights, protects land rights and promotes food sovereignty in the region.

Concluding Points
The interconnection of the community pillars is clear. ASEAN’s approach of compartmentalizing civil society engagements as socio-cultural will prevent itself from benefiting from the capacities of CSOs for integrative development. Along this, we seek to highlight the following:
(1) the question of process – representation and transparency on how economic agreements are negotiated by ASEAN;
(2) the question of impact – whether ASEAN and member states are making appropriate interventions in the economic sphere; and
(3) the need for new ways of organizing the economy, responding to people’s needs.
This is the big call not only for ASEAN but for all of us.
The final challenge rests on the ASEAN people: let us move forward in solidarity and be more concrete in un-marginalizing ourselves. Let us collect the little spaces and power that we have to build our own people’s economy. Let us put into action our principles and not wait for accountable institutions to make our dreams into reality.


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Advancing a Peoples’ ASEAN: Continuing Dialogue (18-20 October 2009 Cha-am, Thailand)

Regional infrastructure, policy harmonization and increasing cross-border investment and labour mobility will help Africa benefit fully from economic opportunities provided by regional integration


The global economic crisis, which has reached the African continent, requires the re-examination of existing approaches to international development. One important response for Africa is deeper regional integration, which would address the long-standing structural weaknesses of African economies. The UNCTAD report Economic Development in Africa 2009 argues that regional integration is essential for sustained development on the continent, especially within the context of the current crisis.

Better links between countries, ranging from paved roads to banking cooperation, are needed to spur mutual economic growth. Indeed, weak physical and institutional infrastructure is the key obstacle to increasing intra-African trade and investment. This is why, at 9 per cent of recorded flows of total external trade and 13 per cent of recorded flows of total inward foreign direct investment (FDI), Africa currently has the world´s lowest shares of regional trade and investment, explains Economic Development in Africa 2009.

Subtitled “Strengthening Regional Economic Integration for Africa´s Development”, the 2009 edition of the UNCTAD annual report on Africa recognizes that over the last two decades Africa has made progress in creating subregional institutions dedicated to economic integration. However, the establishment of subregional economic communities has not substantially increased intra-African trade, investment and mobility of people as expected. Hence, relative to other regions, Africa has by far the most fragmented market, the report finds.

As part of a broader, well-designed development strategy, regional integration could enhance productive capacity, intensify economic diversification and improve competitiveness. Pooled resources and economies of scale would allow African countries to participate more effectively in the global economy.

To boost regional integration, countries need to strengthen their regional physical infrastructure such as roads, railways, telecommunications and regional airlines. Considering the high cost of infrastructure projects and in view of the limited financial capacities of individual African countries, planning at the supranational level and pooling resources to fund priority regional projects is the most realistic strategy for advancing regional integration.

Physical infrastructure will need to be complemented by improvements in soft infrastructure, including policy harmonization at the regional level, trade facilitation, efficiency in border procedures and the adoption of national policies that help rather than hamper the process of integration, the report says.

Intra-African trade in goods is very low, but its potential for growth is high

The creation of several institutions for economic integration in Africa in the last two decades was expected to boost intra-African trade in goods. Such trade increased from 2 per cent in the early 1980s to 9 per cent of total African exports in 2007, but these statistics underestimate the actual flows as they do not include unrecorded trade, which is thought to be very important. Even with this caveat, intra-African trade flows are low in comparison to those in other regions and relative to Africa´s trade potential. Developing America, the region with the second lowest figure of intraregional trade, exports 18.5 per cent of its total exports to countries in the region. Developed Europe, in contrast, exports 71.4 per cent of its total exports to the European market. According to the report, Africa´s poor performance hides the fact that the region could increase its intra-African trade substantially if some key constraints, particularly infrastructure, were addressed. An investment of $32 billion to improve the main intra-African road network could generate around $250 billion in trade over a period of 15 years. Regional trade within the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) would increase threefold if all intrastate roads linking WAEMU countries were paved. The report also notes that paving the road linking Mali to Senegal would increase bilateral trade flows fourfold, while paving the road linking Côte d´Ivoire and Senegal would double bilateral trade flows.

Analysis of trade destinations reveals that despite the low aggregate level of intra-African trade, such trade is very important for many African countries. At least 25 per cent of exports from 20 countries are absorbed by the regional market. The importance of trading blocs is further highlighted by the fact that over three quarters of intra-African trade takes place within these regional groups. In every region, trade centres around a few influential countries, such as South Africa in the southern part of Africa, suggesting the existence of “trade poles” that could become development poles. Analysing trade composition, the report shows different patterns of trade within Africa and between Africa and the rest of the world. Whereas manufactured products dominate intra-African exports, the rest of the world imports mainly primary commodities from Africa. Also, intra-African trade is much more diversified than Africa´s exports to the rest of the world. In the light of these facts, the report suggests that increasing intra-African trade can be a major method of promoting diversification and developing Africa´s manufacturing base.

Intra-African investment is modest but increasing

Africa has a long tradition of cross-border investments but the lack of reliable data has constrained detailed analysis. The scanty data available indicates that intra-African investment represents 13 per cent of total inward foreign direct investment (FDI). This level is less than half the figure for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, where intraregional FDI is estimated at 30 per cent of total FDI. The low level of intraregional FDI in Africa can be attributed to several factors, including low income, which limits domestic as well as outward foreign investment, the lack of adequate transport and communication infrastructure, limited skilled labour and weak economic links and contacts among investors within the region. The report notes that financial liberalization partly explains a recent surge in cross-border investments, particularly in the form of mergers and acquisitions in the banking and telecommunications sectors. These new investments have been led by the need to avoid overdependence on home markets; the rising costs of production in some home economies; pressure from domestic and global competition; and opportunities in host countries, such as privatization of state-owned enterprises.

Intra-African services trade, labour mobility and migration are emerging issues that need attention

Developing services trade is a key component of successful regional integration in Africa, says the report. Services represent, or have the potential to become, significant sources of export earnings for a large number of African economies. Tourism, construction, ports and logistics services relating to road and rail transport offer important export potential for many countries. Also, considering that professional and transport services, telecommunications, banking and insurance – the so called “producer” services – are inputs into other economic activities, they either facilitate or hinder trade and production in other economic sectors, depending on the efficiency with which they are made available to users. That is why the efficient production of services and their trade should be considered as important as the production and trade of goods. Currently, most African countries are unable to provide domestically the quantity or quality of producer services demanded by local producers and exporters, thus undermining competitiveness. The report says more attention should be given to creating an efficient services sector in Africa.

Most regional integration agreements in Africa include provisions on the free movement of persons and the right of residence. Although these are among the most poorly implemented provisions, they have led to the easing or abolition of visa requirements for travelers within the integration groups concerned, particularly in Western, Eastern and Southern Africa. Restrictions remain on employment and the right of residence given the political sensitivity of these matters. Many in Africa argue that the restricted movement of labour across national boundaries is a major constraint to regional integration. For significant progress to be made, a more positive approach to intra-African migration is needed, the report says. There is a need for stronger political will to overcome national lobbies opposed to this form of integration. Forging ahead with this agenda may also imply amending and harmonizing national laws and investment codes, particularly their provisions barring “foreigners” from participating in certain categories of economic activity.


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Report says Africa should deepen regional integration to build stronger and more resilient economies


Regional infrastructure, policy harmonization and increasing cross-border investment and labour mobility will help Africa benefit fully from economic opportunities provided by regional integration


The global economic crisis, which has reached the African continent, requires the re-examination of existing approaches to international development. One important response for Africa is deeper regional integration, which would address the long-standing structural weaknesses of African economies. The UNCTAD report Economic Development in Africa 2009 argues that regional integration is essential for sustained development on the continent, especially within the context of the current crisis.

Better links between countries, ranging from paved roads to banking cooperation, are needed to spur mutual economic growth. Indeed, weak physical and institutional infrastructure is the key obstacle to increasing intra-African trade and investment. This is why, at 9 per cent of recorded flows of total external trade and 13 per cent of recorded flows of total inward foreign direct investment (FDI), Africa currently has the world´s lowest shares of regional trade and investment, explains Economic Development in Africa 2009.

Subtitled “Strengthening Regional Economic Integration for Africa´s Development”, the 2009 edition of the UNCTAD annual report on Africa recognizes that over the last two decades Africa has made progress in creating subregional institutions dedicated to economic integration. However, the establishment of subregional economic communities has not substantially increased intra-African trade, investment and mobility of people as expected. Hence, relative to other regions, Africa has by far the most fragmented market, the report finds.

As part of a broader, well-designed development strategy, regional integration could enhance productive capacity, intensify economic diversification and improve competitiveness. Pooled resources and economies of scale would allow African countries to participate more effectively in the global economy.

To boost regional integration, countries need to strengthen their regional physical infrastructure such as roads, railways, telecommunications and regional airlines. Considering the high cost of infrastructure projects and in view of the limited financial capacities of individual African countries, planning at the supranational level and pooling resources to fund priority regional projects is the most realistic strategy for advancing regional integration.

Physical infrastructure will need to be complemented by improvements in soft infrastructure, including policy harmonization at the regional level, trade facilitation, efficiency in border procedures and the adoption of national policies that help rather than hamper the process of integration, the report says.

Intra-African trade in goods is very low, but its potential for growth is high

The creation of several institutions for economic integration in Africa in the last two decades was expected to boost intra-African trade in goods. Such trade increased from 2 per cent in the early 1980s to 9 per cent of total African exports in 2007, but these statistics underestimate the actual flows as they do not include unrecorded trade, which is thought to be very important. Even with this caveat, intra-African trade flows are low in comparison to those in other regions and relative to Africa´s trade potential. Developing America, the region with the second lowest figure of intraregional trade, exports 18.5 per cent of its total exports to countries in the region. Developed Europe, in contrast, exports 71.4 per cent of its total exports to the European market. According to the report, Africa´s poor performance hides the fact that the region could increase its intra-African trade substantially if some key constraints, particularly infrastructure, were addressed. An investment of $32 billion to improve the main intra-African road network could generate around $250 billion in trade over a period of 15 years. Regional trade within the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) would increase threefold if all intrastate roads linking WAEMU countries were paved. The report also notes that paving the road linking Mali to Senegal would increase bilateral trade flows fourfold, while paving the road linking Côte d´Ivoire and Senegal would double bilateral trade flows.

Analysis of trade destinations reveals that despite the low aggregate level of intra-African trade, such trade is very important for many African countries. At least 25 per cent of exports from 20 countries are absorbed by the regional market. The importance of trading blocs is further highlighted by the fact that over three quarters of intra-African trade takes place within these regional groups. In every region, trade centres around a few influential countries, such as South Africa in the southern part of Africa, suggesting the existence of “trade poles” that could become development poles. Analysing trade composition, the report shows different patterns of trade within Africa and between Africa and the rest of the world. Whereas manufactured products dominate intra-African exports, the rest of the world imports mainly primary commodities from Africa. Also, intra-African trade is much more diversified than Africa´s exports to the rest of the world. In the light of these facts, the report suggests that increasing intra-African trade can be a major method of promoting diversification and developing Africa´s manufacturing base.

Intra-African investment is modest but increasing

Africa has a long tradition of cross-border investments but the lack of reliable data has constrained detailed analysis. The scanty data available indicates that intra-African investment represents 13 per cent of total inward foreign direct investment (FDI). This level is less than half the figure for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, where intraregional FDI is estimated at 30 per cent of total FDI. The low level of intraregional FDI in Africa can be attributed to several factors, including low income, which limits domestic as well as outward foreign investment, the lack of adequate transport and communication infrastructure, limited skilled labour and weak economic links and contacts among investors within the region. The report notes that financial liberalization partly explains a recent surge in cross-border investments, particularly in the form of mergers and acquisitions in the banking and telecommunications sectors. These new investments have been led by the need to avoid overdependence on home markets; the rising costs of production in some home economies; pressure from domestic and global competition; and opportunities in host countries, such as privatization of state-owned enterprises.

Intra-African services trade, labour mobility and migration are emerging issues that need attention

Developing services trade is a key component of successful regional integration in Africa, says the report. Services represent, or have the potential to become, significant sources of export earnings for a large number of African economies. Tourism, construction, ports and logistics services relating to road and rail transport offer important export potential for many countries. Also, considering that professional and transport services, telecommunications, banking and insurance – the so called “producer” services – are inputs into other economic activities, they either facilitate or hinder trade and production in other economic sectors, depending on the efficiency with which they are made available to users. That is why the efficient production of services and their trade should be considered as important as the production and trade of goods. Currently, most African countries are unable to provide domestically the quantity or quality of producer services demanded by local producers and exporters, thus undermining competitiveness. The report says more attention should be given to creating an efficient services sector in Africa.

Most regional integration agreements in Africa include provisions on the free movement of persons and the right of residence. Although these are among the most poorly implemented provisions, they have led to the easing or abolition of visa requirements for travelers within the integration groups concerned, particularly in Western, Eastern and Southern Africa. Restrictions remain on employment and the right of residence given the political sensitivity of these matters. Many in Africa argue that the restricted movement of labour across national boundaries is a major constraint to regional integration. For significant progress to be made, a more positive approach to intra-African migration is needed, the report says. There is a need for stronger political will to overcome national lobbies opposed to this form of integration. Forging ahead with this agenda may also imply amending and harmonizing national laws and investment codes, particularly their provisions barring “foreigners” from participating in certain categories of economic activity.


Download Full UNCTAD  Report

Report says Africa should deepen regional integration to build stronger and more resilient economies


Regional infrastructure, policy harmonization and increasing cross-border investment and labour mobility will help Africa benefit fully from economic opportunities provided by regional integration


The global economic crisis, remedy which has reached the African continent, requires the re-examination of existing approaches to international development. One important response for Africa is deeper regional integration, which would address the long-standing structural weaknesses of African economies. The UNCTAD report Economic Development in Africa 2009 argues that regional integration is essential for sustained development on the continent, especially within the context of the current crisis.

Better links between countries, ranging from paved roads to banking cooperation, are needed to spur mutual economic growth. Indeed, weak physical and institutional infrastructure is the key obstacle to increasing intra-African trade and investment. This is why, at 9 per cent of recorded flows of total external trade and 13 per cent of recorded flows of total inward foreign direct investment (FDI), Africa currently has the world´s lowest shares of regional trade and investment, explains Economic Development in Africa 2009.

Subtitled “Strengthening Regional Economic Integration for Africa´s Development”, the 2009 edition of the UNCTAD annual report on Africa recognizes that over the last two decades Africa has made progress in creating subregional institutions dedicated to economic integration. However, the establishment of subregional economic communities has not substantially increased intra-African trade, investment and mobility of people as expected. Hence, relative to other regions, Africa has by far the most fragmented market, the report finds.

As part of a broader, well-designed development strategy, regional integration could enhance productive capacity, intensify economic diversification and improve competitiveness. Pooled resources and economies of scale would allow African countries to participate more effectively in the global economy.

To boost regional integration, countries need to strengthen their regional physical infrastructure such as roads, railways, telecommunications and regional airlines. Considering the high cost of infrastructure projects and in view of the limited financial capacities of individual African countries, planning at the supranational level and pooling resources to fund priority regional projects is the most realistic strategy for advancing regional integration.

Physical infrastructure will need to be complemented by improvements in soft infrastructure, including policy harmonization at the regional level, trade facilitation, efficiency in border procedures and the adoption of national policies that help rather than hamper the process of integration, the report says.

Intra-African trade in goods is very low, but its potential for growth is high

The creation of several institutions for economic integration in Africa in the last two decades was expected to boost intra-African trade in goods. Such trade increased from 2 per cent in the early 1980s to 9 per cent of total African exports in 2007, but these statistics underestimate the actual flows as they do not include unrecorded trade, which is thought to be very important. Even with this caveat, intra-African trade flows are low in comparison to those in other regions and relative to Africa´s trade potential. Developing America, the region with the second lowest figure of intraregional trade, exports 18.5 per cent of its total exports to countries in the region. Developed Europe, in contrast, exports 71.4 per cent of its total exports to the European market. According to the report, Africa´s poor performance hides the fact that the region could increase its intra-African trade substantially if some key constraints, particularly infrastructure, were addressed. An investment of $32 billion to improve the main intra-African road network could generate around $250 billion in trade over a period of 15 years. Regional trade within the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) would increase threefold if all intrastate roads linking WAEMU countries were paved. The report also notes that paving the road linking Mali to Senegal would increase bilateral trade flows fourfold, while paving the road linking Côte d´Ivoire and Senegal would double bilateral trade flows.

Analysis of trade destinations reveals that despite the low aggregate level of intra-African trade, such trade is very important for many African countries. At least 25 per cent of exports from 20 countries are absorbed by the regional market. The importance of trading blocs is further highlighted by the fact that over three quarters of intra-African trade takes place within these regional groups. In every region, trade centres around a few influential countries, such as South Africa in the southern part of Africa, suggesting the existence of “trade poles” that could become development poles. Analysing trade composition, the report shows different patterns of trade within Africa and between Africa and the rest of the world. Whereas manufactured products dominate intra-African exports, the rest of the world imports mainly primary commodities from Africa. Also, intra-African trade is much more diversified than Africa´s exports to the rest of the world. In the light of these facts, the report suggests that increasing intra-African trade can be a major method of promoting diversification and developing Africa´s manufacturing base.

Intra-African investment is modest but increasing

Africa has a long tradition of cross-border investments but the lack of reliable data has constrained detailed analysis. The scanty data available indicates that intra-African investment represents 13 per cent of total inward foreign direct investment (FDI). This level is less than half the figure for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, where intraregional FDI is estimated at 30 per cent of total FDI. The low level of intraregional FDI in Africa can be attributed to several factors, including low income, which limits domestic as well as outward foreign investment, the lack of adequate transport and communication infrastructure, limited skilled labour and weak economic links and contacts among investors within the region. The report notes that financial liberalization partly explains a recent surge in cross-border investments, particularly in the form of mergers and acquisitions in the banking and telecommunications sectors. These new investments have been led by the need to avoid overdependence on home markets; the rising costs of production in some home economies; pressure from domestic and global competition; and opportunities in host countries, such as privatization of state-owned enterprises.

Intra-African services trade, labour mobility and migration are emerging issues that need attention

Developing services trade is a key component of successful regional integration in Africa, says the report. Services represent, or have the potential to become, significant sources of export earnings for a large number of African economies. Tourism, construction, ports and logistics services relating to road and rail transport offer important export potential for many countries. Also, considering that professional and transport services, telecommunications, banking and insurance – the so called “producer” services – are inputs into other economic activities, they either facilitate or hinder trade and production in other economic sectors, depending on the efficiency with which they are made available to users. That is why the efficient production of services and their trade should be considered as important as the production and trade of goods. Currently, most African countries are unable to provide domestically the quantity or quality of producer services demanded by local producers and exporters, thus undermining competitiveness. The report says more attention should be given to creating an efficient services sector in Africa.

Most regional integration agreements in Africa include provisions on the free movement of persons and the right of residence. Although these are among the most poorly implemented provisions, they have led to the easing or abolition of visa requirements for travelers within the integration groups concerned, particularly in Western, Eastern and Southern Africa. Restrictions remain on employment and the right of residence given the political sensitivity of these matters. Many in Africa argue that the restricted movement of labour across national boundaries is a major constraint to regional integration. For significant progress to be made, a more positive approach to intra-African migration is needed, the report says. There is a need for stronger political will to overcome national lobbies opposed to this form of integration. Forging ahead with this agenda may also imply amending and harmonizing national laws and investment codes, particularly their provisions barring “foreigners” from participating in certain categories of economic activity.


Download Full UNCTAD  Report

 

 

Call for Civil Society’s Participation

In the 2nd ASEAN Peoples’ Forum / 5th ASEAN Civil Society Conference

18-20 October 2009

Cha-am, help Phetchaburi Province, Thailand

The first ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (APF) held in February 2009 in Bangkok brought together representatives of various citizens’ groups in the region to exchange experiences, rx raising issues of common concern, and deliberate on common recommendations to the ASEAN.  The Forum was effectively linked to the Fourth ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC IV) in which the focus was on civil society’s continuous engagement with the ASEAN bodies as recommendations from the APF’s 30 workshops was debated and adopted for forwarding to the ASEAN leaders.  The highlights of the February event were the two-hour straightforward dialogue with the ASEAN Secretary-General and the Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the half-hour informal meeting between representatives of the APF with the ASEAN leaders in Cha-am.

As the ASEAN leaders and officials are gathering in Thailand for the 16th ASEAN summit, the Joint Thai-Regional APF Working Group, comprising Thai and regional civil society organizations that constituted the Organizing Committee of the APF / ACSC IV, once again invite civil society groups in Southeast Asia to participate in the Second ASEAN Peoples’ Forum /the Fifth ASEAN Civil Society Conference to be held at Regent Beach Cha-am, Phetchaburi Province, Thailand.

To pursue the goal of advancing a peoples’ ASEAN, the Second APF / Fifth ACSC (APF II / ACSC V) will feature expanded dialogue with ASEAN governments’ and ASEAN Secretariat’s senior officials who are involved in the three ASEAN Community Councils. The key objectives of the dialogue are to explore the options and limitations and identifying potential solutions for the ASEAN to meet the demands and aspirations of its peoples, and to foster governments-peoples cooperation in creating building blocks for a just, people-centred, and genuine caring and sharing ASEAN Community, which we hope is a shared goal of all the ASEAN governments.

The key broad issues for which the APF II / ACSC V will focus on and for which it will seek ASEAN governments’ inputs, clarifications and discussions on potential solutions include:

Socio-Cultural Cluster: Mechanisms and TOR of the Socio-Cultural community, TOR for the ASEAN Commission for Women and Children, People’s Participation, Migration, Disability, Health, Culture and Natural disasters.

Socio-Economic Cluster: Impacts of economic integration; Impact and roles of economic actors and people and general; Cross-border economic concerns and ASEAN’s capability to deal with them; Sustainable production and consumption, energy and development; Regional response to the economic crisis.

Environmental Cluster: Large-scale development projects that lead to the environment and livelihood destruction; ASEAN position and action plan on climate change; Biodiversity, Sustainable Agriculture and Food Sovereignty.

Political Security Cluster: Challenges in the implementation of the political security community, conflict resolutions, human rights and democracy in ASEAN

It is anticipated that the ASEAN leaders will agree to another interface meeting with a group of representatives from the APF II / ACSC V at the beginning of their summit meeting on October 23, 2009, so that the peoples’ recommendations from the forum can be submitted directly, hopefully also to be discussed, in the interface meeting.

The APF II / ACSC V will be a 3-day open forum for around 500 representatives of Southeast Asian civil society groups, including 260 from the host country. The Regent Beach Cha-am Resort, being in the same neighbourhood as the venue of the ASEAN summit, has been selected as the venue in order to facilitate the attendance of the ASEAN government officials in our proposed dialogue. Participants can be accommodated at the same Resort at discounted price. The schedule of the whole event and the concept notes of the 4 clusters of dialogue are being finalized. All the program and logistic details will be available for perusal on the website www.aseanpeplesforum.org by September 22, 2009.

Due to the space limit, all interested groups are requested to register ahead of time starting from September 22 at the website www.aseanpeoplesfrum.net. Registration will close as soon as the available spaces are filled.

We do hope to see you all in Cha-am!

Joint Thai-Regional Working Group on ASEAN Peoples’ Forum:

NGO Coordinating Committee on Development (NGO-COD), Thailand

People’s Empowerment Foundation, Thailand

Sustainable Agriculture Foundation, Thailand

Thai Volunteer Service Foundation (TVS), Thailand

Altsean-Burma

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum-Asia)

Committee for Asian Women (CAW)

Focus on the Global South (Focus)

Southeast Asia Committee for Advocacy (SEACA)

Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance (TERRA)

Union Network International, Asia-Pacific Regional Office (UNI-APRO)

 

Download the Media Kit

 

See:

Advancing a Peoples’ ASEAN: Continuing Dialogue: Statement of the 2nd ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (APF)/5th ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC)


STATEMENT FROM THE ORGANISERS OF THE ASEAN PEOPLES FORUM/ASEAN CIVIL SOCIETY CONFERENCE


Asean People’s Forum (APF) Economic Pillar Plenary Report: “Deconstructing the ASEAN Economic Ambition, A Conversation among Advocates, Analysts and Activists”


 


ASEAN Peoples' Forum-4th ASEAN Civil Society Conference (Bangkok)

Vea las fotos de la Conferencia Internacional de gobiernos y movimientos sociales “Integración regional: una oportunidad frente a las crisis” (Paraguay, ask 21 y 22 Julio 2009). Organizada por Alianza Social Continental, Iniciativa Paraguaya para la Integración de los Pueblos, Agenda de los Pueblos para Regionalismos Alternativos, Focus on the Global South y Transnational Institute .

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer


Watch the photos from the INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE of GOVERNMENTS and SOCIAL MOVEMENTS “Regional Integration: an opportunity to face the crises” (21 and 22 July 2009, hospital Paraguay). Organised by Hemispheric Social Alliance (HSA), Iniciativa Paraguaya para la Integración de los Pueblos, People’s Agenda for Alternative Regionalisms (PAAR), Focus on the Global South and Transnational Institute (TNI)


Watch the photos from the INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE of GOVERNMENTS and SOCIAL MOVEMENTS “Regional Integration: an opportunity to face the crises” (21 and 22 July 2009, here
Paraguay). Organised by Hemispheric Social Alliance (HSA), purchase Iniciativa Paraguaya para la Integración de los Pueblos, People’s Agenda for Alternative Regionalisms (PAAR), Focus on the Global South and Transnational Institute (TNI)


Vea las fotos de la Conferencia Internacional de gobiernos y movimientos sociales “Integración regional: una oportunidad frente a las crisis” (Paraguay, cure 21 y 22 Julio 2009). Organizada por Alianza Social Continental, Iniciativa Paraguaya para la Integración de los Pueblos, Agenda de los Pueblos para Regionalismos Alternativos, Focus on the Global South y Transnational Institute .

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

Vea las fotos de la Conferencia Internacional de gobiernos y movimientos sociales “Integración regional: una oportunidad frente a las crisis” (Paraguay, 21 y 22 Julio 2009). Organizada por Alianza Social Continental, Iniciativa Paraguaya para la Integración de los Pueblos, Agenda de los Pueblos para Regionalismos Alternativos, Focus on the Global South y Transnational Institute .

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer


 

ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (APF) – Fourth ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC IV)

20 – 22 February 2009

Bangkok, Thailand

Please visit the APF website (www.apf2008.org) for videos, photos, Conference proceedings, presentations, workshop summaries and other materials on the APF-ACSC IV.


DOWNLOAD ALL THE ACTIVITIES ORGANISED BY Focus on the Global South during APF-ACSC IV


VIEW THE STATEMENT of ASEAN Peoples’ Forum-Fourth ASEAN Civil Society Conference to the 14th ASEAN Summit (20 – 22 February 2009)