Members of the Socialist International Council from all continents convened in Mexico on Monday 17 and Tuesday 18 November, hosted by the organisation’s two member parties in that country, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, PRI, and the Party of Democratic Revolution, PRD, to discuss an agenda under the main theme of “A Global Social Democratic Response to the World Financial Crisis”. Participants, including current and former heads of government, ministers, party leaders and representatives, brought to the discussions regional and national perspectives to put forward common social democratic proposals for tackling the global financial and economic crises.
Meeting on a University campus in Vallarta, with close to 200 delegates, the Council opened on Monday 17 November with words of welcome from the Director of the Institute of Innovation and Governance of the University of Guadalajara, and speeches by Guadalupe Acosta Naranjo, President of the PRD; Beatriz Paredes, President of the PRI and an SI Vice-President; and by the President of the Socialist International, George Papandreou. (Videos)
High on the Council agenda were the critical role of politics, government and regulation to secure a sustainable and fair global economy, as well as the changing international situation, following the election of Barack Obama in the United States and the new scenario for world politics, and opportunities for international cooperation and multilateralism. (List of Speakers)
Building on discussions initiated by the Socialist International Presidium at its meeting, held at the United Nations in New York, and the recently established SI Commission on Global Financial Issues, the Council highlighted the need for a comprehensive approach to the crisis, one which addressed not only the financial aspect but also dealt with climate change, environmental and energy issues, as well as fighting poverty. The SI Council underlined that new responsibilities and opportunities had opened up for the global social democratic movement to place its concerns at the heart of the agenda of a new economic paradigm – with an emphasis on jobs, pensions, health, education and democratic governance. A return to politics was essential, the Council asserted, and gave specific proposals for a new financial architecture based on social democratic principles in a Statement adopted at the conclusion of the debates.
The Council also heard examples of innovative approaches and best practices for social inclusion policies in different parts of the world, especially among emerging and developing countries, in a special panel debate. Particular cases were presented, including policies for migrant workers both at home and abroad introduced in Zacatecas, Mexico; on social development projects being carried out in Guatemala; on job creation policies undertaken in Angola; on social inclusion programmes for indigenous peoples established in Peru and on the need for democratic development in Equatorial Guinea. There also followed a discussion on the need to address inequality and enhance regional cooperation, which included a perspective from Latin America and the Caribbean.
At this first Council following the XXIII Congress, the Socialist International, in accordance with its Statutes, established a number of regional and thematic Committees which will be active in this forthcoming period, as well as electing their respective Chairs. Regional committees were re-established for Africa; Asia and the Pacific; the CIS, Caucasus and the Black Sea; Latin America and the Caribbean; the Mediterranean; the Middle East; and South Eastern Europe, with thematic Committees created to address the following issues: Economic Policy, Labour and National Resources; Social Cohesion, Poverty and HIV/AIDS; Disarmament; Local Authorities; Migrations; and Peace. The members of the SI Finance and Administration Committee and the organisation’s Ethics Committee were also elected for this inter-Congress period.