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GENEVA COUNCIL - Making global markets work for all

23-24 November 1998

Over three hundred leaders and representatives of more than a hundred parties and organisations assembled at the Palais des Nations, United Nations Geneva for the Council meeting of the Socialist International on 23-24 November. Participants met to focus on the themes 'Making global markets work for all: the role of governments and institutions in securing a sustainable world economy', and 'Putting peace and democracy first: the cases of the Middle East, Algeria, the Great Lakes region and Kosovo'.

Delegates were welcomed by Gérard Ramseyer, President of the State Council to the Republic and Canton of Geneva which, he said, truly placed 'human beings at the heart of our concerns'. Ursula Koch, President of the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland, expressing her hopes for an excellent meeting, said that her party was open to the world and was looking forward to working with social democratic parties from all continents.

The floor was given to Isabel Allende of the Socialist Party, PS, of Chile, who spoke days before the ruling in the United Kingdom regarding the extradition of former dictator Augusto Pinochet, and thanked the international community for the efforts to promote justice and solidarity. She added that: 'We believe that humanity has taken a step towards pointing the finger at those dictators who still continue and towards saying there shall be no more impunity'.

In his opening speech SI President Pierre Mauroy said there were currently two causes for serious concern. Firstly, the financial crisis, and secondly, the troubles in the African continent. Both issues were at the heart of the meeting's agenda. He welcomed developments in Europe towards greater regional and continental integration, and the signs of a 'new political will emerging'. Mauroy urged member parties of the SI to continue to develop, and to remain committed to our shared values: 'The globalisation of the economy is to be matched by a globalisation of politics... in the fight for greater freedom, more justice, and greater human dignity'.

SI Secretary General Luis Ayala reported that messages had been received from the United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, and from the Director-General of the United Nations Geneva, Vladimir Petrovsky. Commenting on the timely and relevant nature of the meeting, Annan wrote: 'More than ever, we need to come together to manage this change; more than ever, the greatest challenge posed by globalisation is that of good governance in the broadest sense. More than ever, we need to display leadership at the global level. More than ever, we need to forge new partnerships'.

Making global markets work for all

Introducing the first main theme, Prime Minister António Guterres, leader of the Portuguese Socialist Party, PS, stated that he believed the current financial situation to be a predictable and unavoidable result of a global economy based on unregulated global markets. Whereas at national level, market economies worked within the framework of a regulatory state and of an organised civil society, the same could not be said of the world economy. Outlining the points for discussion in the declaration 'To Regulate Globalisation and to Globalise Regulation', prepared by the SI Committee on Economic Policy, Development and the Environment, SICEDE, which he chairs, Guterres concluded by emphasising that finding solutions to the current problems was a moral as well as political responsibility of the international community.

Juan Somavía, President of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, ECOSOC, and Director-elect of the International Labour Organisation, ILO, advocated developing 'a responsible and equitable framework for the management of the emerging global economy and its impact on our societies'. He referred to the dual challenge of promoting equity and productivity at the same time, as well as promoting sustainable growth and social justice. Clearly, political values and decisions would play a key role in the development of solutions. He added that much greater multilateral cooperation between international institutions was needed to progressively develop integrated and innovative policies, concluding that: 'In the midst of the moral indifference of our days, we need passion and the will to make the world a better place for all'.

Many leaders added their contributions to the debate including Prime Minister Abderrahman Youssoufi, First Secretary of the Socialist Union of Popular Forces, USFP, of Morocco, and an SI Vice-President, who spoke of the need to find a collective response to the ongoing crisis at a time when speculative, financial dealings were having such a major impact on the real economy and on our societies. The new Chair of the Democrats of the Left, DS, of Italy, Walter Veltroni, stated that he believed it was possible to act to avoid global recession. Without denying the ambiguous effects of globalisation, Veltroni maintained that the crisis we felt today was not of globalisation but of a 'certain model of globalisation... subordinate to the religion of unregulated markets'. François Hollande, First Secretary of the French Socialist Party, PS, highlighted four priorities for reform: transparency; regulation; a new financial architecture; and, the putting in place of an Economic Security Council. General Secretary of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, PSOE, Joaquín Almunia, tackled the impact of globalisation on the proper functioning of the State, governments and of supranational institutions, and the changing nature of national sovereignty. Gyula Horn, former Prime Minister of Hungary and an SI Vice-President, emphasised the need for improving infrastructures and the importance of directing investment in human resources. Outlining the Asian perspective, Takako Doi, leader of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, of Japan, restated that the first victims of the economic difficulties had been the weakest and most vulnerable people whose rights the social democratic movement was committed to protect. Jaime Paz Zamora, Chair of the Revolutionary Left Movement, MIR-New Majority, Bolivia, and an SI Vice-President, set out some Latin American concerns. Globalisation, he said, generated 'neo-necessities', such as the need for information, know-how, access to technology, to credit, to finance, which had to be met worldwide in order to avoid engendering a new type of poverty.

On behalf of the recently elected Social Democratic Party, SPD, of Germany, Christoph Zöpel, underlined the new points of emphasis required by present world economic relations. Petre Roman, President of the Democratic Party, PD, Romania, addressed delegates on the impact of globalisation on Eastern Europe. Porfirio Muñoz Ledo, of the leadership of the Party of Democratic Revolution, PRD, Mexico, considered the practicalities of the social democratic response to globalisation in financial, economic, social and demographic terms.

The Council adopted the declaration 'To regulate globalisation and to globalise regulation', which set out proposals for restructuring present imbalances in the world economy, by focusing on a framework for developing transitional economies, recasting development assistance, promoting sustainable growth by coordinating economic policies, and reforming the international framework for financial and economic regulation. The declaration concluded: 'To regulate globalisation and to globalise regulation is not only a matter of concern to international financial institutions. It should be the means for a new international order, which can reinforce democracy and promote solidarity. It is also a central responsibility for governments and political parties of the Socialist International'.

Putting peace and democracy first

The second political theme on the agenda afforded the opportunity to examine developments in regions where the establishment of peace and the strengthening of democracy were severely threatened and where events were moving swiftly.

Bjørn Tore Godal, Chair of the SI Middle East Committee, SIMEC, of the Norwegian Labour Party, DNA, presented the results of the meeting of SIMEC to the Council. Shimon Peres, an SI Vice-President, spoke of the present domestic policies and economic expectations in the region, and suggested a national union government in Israel might be better suited to carry forward the peace process. Hani Al-Hassan, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Commission of Fatah, weighed up the positive and negative signals emerging in the Middle East, and referred to the Palestinian people's frustration at what they saw as unfulfilled commitments. Ephraim Snéh of the Israel Labour Party spoke of the faint glimmer of hope in his country, and went on to tackle further issues of concern in the Middle East region as a whole. Ester Mordoch, Meretz, Israel, considered the task of the opposition parties in Israel and their responsibilities to the peace process. The statement adopted by the Council on the Middle East welcomed the impetus given by the Wye River Agreement, which called among other things for a rapid follow-up of the provisions therein and urged increased involvement of the European community in the region.

Further resolutions on the Middle East region were adopted on the encouraging developments for peace in the Kurdish region in Northern Iraq; one expressing the Council's satisfaction that the latest crisis between the UN and Iraq had been overcome; and another condemning the grave and numerous violations of human rights committed under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

Pauline Green, leader of the Parliamentary Group of the Party of European Socialists, and an SI Vice-President, introduced a statement related to the arrest of Abdullah Ocalan in Italy which declared its support for the Italian government and Prime Minister D'Alema.

The Council, in a resolution on Morocco, offered its support to the government there and affirmed the significance of the new political era in that country.

Philippe Busquin, leader of the Socialist Party, PS, Belgium, and Chair of the SI Committee on Local Authorities, reported to the Council on the successful Second World Conference of Mayors of the SI held in Fez.

Chair of the SI Africa Committee, Ousmane Tanor Dieng, First Secretary of the Senegalese Socialist Party, PS, and an SI Vice-President, addressed the issue of crises in Africa and introduced the 'Declaration on the conflicts in Africa', which was subsequently adopted by the Council. The declaration examined in detail the reasons and nature of the conflicts in the region, and offered ways of improving the situation. Pedro Pires, leader of the African Party of Cape Verde's Independence, PAICV, and Vice-Chair of the SI Africa Committee, stressed the importance of cooperation between states and economic integration for Africa's future.

With regard to the ongoing conflict in Algeria, which the leader of the Socialist Forces Front, FFS, Hocine Aït Ahmed, reaffirmed was causing unprecedented impoverishment and a risk of uncontrollable social explosions, a resolution was adopted by the Council which hoped that the presidential elections in April 1999 would 'provide a new opportunity to strengthen the political process of emerging from the crisis'.

In response to the situation in Equatorial Guinea, a statement was issued expressing solidarity with those representatives of SI-member the Convergence for Social Democracy, CPDS, who had been arrested on the eve of parliamentary elections. Dealing with the case of Western Sahara, the Council called on all parties involved to fully cooperate in the holding of a free, fair and democratic referendum.

Co-Chair of the SI Committee for Central and Eastern Europe, SICEE, László Kovács, Chair of the Hungarian Socialist Party, MSzP, outlined the deliberations of the Committee's meeting on the eve of the Council which had prepared the 'Declaration on South-East Europe', with special reference to the situation in Kosovo, which was adopted by the Council.

The Council also adopted a statement emphasising the importance of stability in Russia for the European continent, and one on the Caucasus, welcoming the continuing consolidation of democracy in the region.

Considering issues of peace and democracy in the Asia-Pacific region, a resolution was adopted expressing the Council's grave concern at the incarceration of Lim Guan Eng, Deputy Secretary General of Democratic Action Party, DAP, the Malaysian SI member party; one in support of the Committee representing the People's Parliament in Burma; and, another on East Timor which called on the Indonesian authorities to respect human rights and the right to self-determination of that territory.

A statement was issued in response to the events concerning the former dictator Augusto Pinochet which reiterated the SI's solidarity with the victims of human rights violations in Chile. Further statements made on current concerns in the Latin American region were on democracy in Peru, peace in Colombia, the devastation caused by Hurricane Mitch in Central America, and on the present threat to the democratic process in the Dominican Republic.

Forthcoming activities of the SI

SI Secretary General Luis Ayala reported on the planned activities of the International. The XXI SI Congress will be held in Paris on 8-10 November 1999, and the next Council meeting, in Buenos Aires, to be hosted jointly by SI Argentine member parties, the Popular Socialist Party, PSP, a member of Frepaso, and the Radical Civic Union, UCR, is scheduled for 25-26 June, days before the first Summit of Heads of State and Government of Latin America and the Caribbean and the European Union in Rio de Janeiro. Regional meetings of the Global Progress Commission will include one in Africa on 25-26 January in Dakar, and one in Latin America and the Caribbean set for 22-23 March in Mexico City. SICEE will meet in Bucharest on 5-6 February in cooperation with the Democratic Party, PD, and the Romanian Social Democratic Party, PSDR. The SI Africa Committee will meet next at the end of March in Bamako hosted by ADEMA-PASJ. The SI Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean, SICLAC, will gather to address key issues in the region in advance of the Council in Buenos Aires, and, under the recommendation of the Presidium, the Committee will be co-chaired in the pre-Congress period by Rubén Berríos, leader of the Puerto Rican Independence Party, PIP, and Anselmo Sule, leader of the Social Democratic Radical Party, PRSD, Chile. A forthcoming meeting of SICEDE will focus on the economy in Africa, and subsequent meetings on economic issues in Asia and in Latin America and the Caribbean. The next meeting of the SI Peace, Security and Disarmament Committee, SIPSAD, will focus on current issues concerning disarmament and will be held in collaboration with relevant bodies of the United Nations in the first part of next year. Also proposed for the first half of next year is a meeting of the SI Asia-Pacific Committee, which it was agreed Lim Kit Siang, General Secretary of DAP, Malaysia, would chair in the pre-Congress period. SIMEC, having just held a meeting in Geneva, will continue to contribute to the peace process and has been invited by the Socialist Union of Popular Forces, USFP, to meet next in Morocco. The SIMEC Working Group on the Kurdish Question will visit Northern Iraq, and the Committee has also extended its focus to Afghanistan by forming a special group to follow developments there. With regard to the activities of the SI Mediterranean Committee, the strengthening of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership will be a principal focus of a forthcoming meeting. The SI Committee on Local Authorities will meet in Rotterdam in the first half of next year.

The Chair of the SI Finance and Administration Committee, SIFAC, Gunnar Stenarv, of the Swedish Social Democratic Party, SAP, presented the budget for the next year which was adopted.

List of participants

SI Council, Socialist Affairs (PDF)