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06-07 November 2006

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SANTIAGO COUNCIL - Governance, energy and climate change, new horizons for peace

06-07 November 2006


The world today is facing a growing number of critical issues that can only be addressed at the global level.

The Socialist International, which has long supported multilateral approaches in the conduct of world affairs, advocates the strengthening of existing global institutions and the establishment of new ones where necessary so that humanity can respond most effectively to the global challenges that are becoming more urgent by the day.

The International understands that these challenges, which no nation can escape and which are beyond their individual capabilities, require a progressive and humanistic response based on the belief in a common humanity that has been a pillar of our social democratic movement since it began.

The International underlines eight issues of vital importance to the future of our world and to which we must respond in a shared, prompt and determined manner:

The ever greater numbers of people migrating in this world do not want to abandon their countries or their families. They are compelled by a complex array of economic, social and environmental forces and must confront enormous risks, exploitation and rejection as they relocate, even as globalisation provides for increasingly freer flows of goods, services, finance and technology. This requires greater realism on the part of North and South to prepare a package of cooperative measures that can ease the plight of migrants and enhance the potential benefits both to them and the sending and receiving countries.

Global warming and climate change
The urgency and depth of this challenge was made clear most recently in the Stern report, issued in London, which drew on an abundance of research to emphasise the great magnitude of the risks involved in not responding adequately to global warming and the need for a coordinated international response without delay.

Free and balanced trade
The task is to strengthen the political will to establish a global system of trade in goods and services which is free in the sense that all can participate and all can derive the benefits. "Free trade" today is not entirely free or fair, given the continuation of anti-dumping legislation, agricultural subsidies and numerous other practices. Despite advances in the Doha Round, there remains the urgent need for an effective system of arbitration if the great potential of global trade is to be realised.

International Finance
The international financial framework established at Bretton Woods in 1944 is no longer adequate for a world of instantaneous digital communication in which billions of dollars can be transferred with a single click of a computer. Without a clear and transparent system to regulate the enormous and lightning-fast flow of money and financial transactions, the global economy remains vulnerable to crises that will prove increasingly difficult to overcome.

The risk to humanity of quickly spreading pandemics that ignore national borders and that can overwhelm health-care systems has grown enormously in recent times, as has been evident in confronting the threat of bird flu and the emergence of new viruses resistant to drugs. A collective response based on transparency, heightened cooperation and the best science is indispensable.

Terrorism and narcotrafficking
A good part of the international system constructed in the last century to maintain peace and stability was based on preventing and resolving conflicts between nations. But today the world also confronts terrorism and the illegal drug trade, threats which everywhere have proven to be immune to unilateral actions by any nation.

Updating the United Nations
Preserving peace and ensuring respect for human rights requires that the United Nations be reformed, particularly the Security Council, so that it best reflects the world of today, provides the most effective framework for responding to the challenges we now face and contributes as well to the deepening of regional integration and cooperation.

Equal access in the digital society
The threat is that the global revolution in digital technology and the expansion of the internet becomes yet another area of division between haves and have-nots. There is great potential for digital communication to deepen democracy and strengthen citizenship by providing greater access to knowledge and expanding channels for expression, and some positive steps were taken at the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis. But greater international efforts are needed if all are to benefit from the digital age.

Each of the eight issues is the result of rapid globalisation and each requires a collective response. However, with each challenge there is either no international body or mechanism for addressing it, as in the case of migration, or no international body or mechanism that has shown that it can respond in a positive and conclusive way, as in the case of global warming, despite the advances made under the Kyoto Protocol.

The Socialist International believes that rapid and effective responses to today’s global challenges require an interconnected set of global institutions with the active and balanced participation of the world’s nations. Through these institutions nations must make a determined effort to agree programmes and norms and means of enforcement - in other words, a deeper and more effective multilateralism that reflects the input of all the people of the world. The International reaffirms its commitment to working toward that goal in every possible way.

The International has always stood for democratic, just and equitable societies based on solidarity and belief in the public good. Today the task is to build an international framework of governance which will ensure that this vision and these fundamental commitments and objectives can be secured in these ever-changing times.