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MONTENEGRO COUNCIL - Working for a new global framework for the world economy, peace and security, democracy and the environment

29-30 June 2009

Latifa Perry

Under the main theme "Working for a new global framework for the world economy, peace and security, democracy and the environment", the SI Council met in Budva, Montenegro, on 29-30 June 2009, bringing together delegates from member parties and organisations from across the globe (List of Participants).

The meeting was opened by the leaders of the host parties, the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) and the Social Democratic Party (SDPM), and the President of the Socialist International, George Papandreou. Prime Minister Milo Djukanović of the DPS welcomed the International to Montenegro and reflected on his party and coalition’s success in the 2009 elections, saying that they were committed to building the newly independent nation based on democratic principles, stability, economic development, good relations with neighbouring countries and integration with other nations and international organisations, and that it was essential to cooperate with those holding similar ideas and convictions. In a major financial crisis such as this one, he said, universal values were needed more than ever. The Speaker of the Parliament and leader of the Social Democratic Party, Ranko Krivokapić, expressed their honour in hosting the largest international organisation of its kind in the world, noting the need for an International such as ours during a time when the world faced new crossroads and challenges. Addressing the effect of the crisis on the real economy, he told delegates that history will be the judge of how well governments and parties respond to the current crises the world faces. George Papandreou (Speech) thanked the hosts for their hospitality, and said the whole movement was encouraged by their success in the elections. Stressing that ideologies of free markets talked and measured freedom in terms of the money one had to consume, or the credit the banking system extended, socialists defined freedom as the real power a citizen has to decide the direction their neighbourhood, city, village, nation will take, and stated that we saw people not simply as consumers. He noted further that the International recognised that there was only one way for progress: societies must become more equal, more just, more humane, and that their citizens must be empowered.
Following the opening, the Council approved and adopted its Agenda. Responding to a proposal by the French Socialist Party, it elected Ségolène Royal as a Vice-President of the International in accordance with the statutes, and she took her seat at the Presidium table.
Reacting to the coup d’état against the government of President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales in Honduras that had taken place on the eve of the Council, as well as his detention and forced expulsion from the country, delegates unanimously expressed their condemnation in the strongest terms and demanded the immediate re-establishment of democratic and institutional normality in that Central American nation. They called for the immediate reinstatement of the President, joining all the democratic organisations and international bodies such as the Organization of American States (OAS) in declaring that it would not accept the recognition of any government which pretends to replace the one which was legitimately constituted (Resolution on Honduras).
The Council subsequently moved to discuss the themes of its agenda, beginning with a discussion on the World Economy (List of Speakers). SI Vice-President Eero Heinäluoma of Finland and member of the SI Commission on Global Financial Issues gave a keynote address, in which he stressed that politics must regain the role that belongs to it in steering development, and that justice cannot be achieved without addressing old privileges and structures that create inequality. He noted the need to get the economy growing again in a sustainable way through strong stimulation policies, policies that have been at the core of the social democratic economic thinking for decades. He was followed by an introduction to the theme by the Chair of the SI Committee on Economic Policy, Labour and National Resources, Christoph Zopel, who, in discussing the reconstruction of the world economy, put forward the benefits of the global welfare statehood proposed by the SI, a model in which all people are employed, the young well educated, and elderly populations enjoy social security. Noting that both high taxation and economic competitiveness existed in States that had implemented this, he called for its step by step adoption, with formal labour as a basis for social welfare. The Chair of the SI Committee on Poverty, Social Cohesion and HIV/AIDS, Barbara Prammer, added to this in her introductory remarks, arguing that the goal of the SI was a society in which social democratic values can be realised, agreeing that it was necessary for people around the world to have equal opportunities, employment and a decent income, as well as satisfaction through their work and career. SI Vice-President Ségolène Royal said that in the face of the crisis, socialists had a higher responsibility and people expected us to produce order from chaos, and that it was incumbent upon us to put into place new rules aimed at reducing inequality and ensuring security. We were at a crossroads and faced multiple challenges, she added, describing the current crisis as one of civilizations. SIW President Pia Locatelli defined the crisis as a man made disaster as women are still not significant bearers of political power and are virtually excluded from decision-making in the financial sector while being hit the hardest by the economic downturn. She called for a gender based dimension to solutions and recovery plans including investments in child care, education, health care, and other social services that generate jobs for women. In adopting a Resolution on the World Economy, delegates also added that the crisis jeopardises attainment of the Millennium Development Goals and as many as 100 million more people could remain poor or fall into poverty. More than ever, developed countries must keep and increase their commitments to helping the economies of the developing world, and under no circumstances use the extension of the international economic crisis to decrease them.
On the issues of Peace and Security, participants (List of Speakers) addressed the importance of placing common security through disarmament and cooperation at the cornerstone of a social democratic peace and détente policy. Reiterating that it was socialists and social democrats who broke through dogmas and opened the path to security through agreements on disarmament and cooperation during the Cold War and describing the role of the SI during the 1990s in helping to produce advances such as the zero option, Achim Post of the SPD Germany, introduced the debate stating that it was now time for the International to join forces in working for a new worldwide policy of disarmament. Referring to the work of the newly established SI Disarmament Committee that had met in Berlin eight weeks before, he highlighted the new programme it had agreed on this issue, describing its aims, including the strengthening of the non-proliferation treaty, the introduction of a zero solution for tactical and strategic nuclear weapons and support for regional and international initiatives for disarmament, as a solid basis for a new, more powerful and more effective role for the Socialist International in this area. In an introductory contribution, Elena Valenciano of the PSOE, Spain, said that while conservatives talked of security resulting from force, we socialists had a broad and comprehensive approach to security as reflected in the Agenda of the Council. This was a result of our efforts in addressing issues such as the struggle against poverty, working with countries that suffered the most, or our support for the Alliance of Civilizations to isolate extreme ideologies and she underlined the increased role and responsibility of politics in facing the current crisis. Later, in adopting a Declaration on Disarmament, the Council gave its support to the initiative for a world free of nuclear weapons and welcomed new commitments from within the international community to disarmament and arms control. Delegates concurred that a treaty-based, multilateral arms control and disarmament must become the binding basis of international relations, and added that efforts at global disarmament are intimately linked to the possibility of solving regional conflicts which feed and fuel the arms race and nuclear competition between major regional forces.
In addressing Democracy, under the main theme of the Council, participants (List of Speakers) focused on what should be done to advance its cause where authoritarianism remained; how to ensure that the progress achieved in the new democracies is not reversed, and what could be done to enhance and secure democracy internationally. The debate was opened by Adrian Severin of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament, who said that Democracy was in crisis as a result of the refusal of some regimes to recognise democratic rights and the refusal of people to exercise them. He stressed the importance of direct contact with voters, better leadership and also education to overcome the primary instinct of egoism. He was followed by an introductory contribution by SI Vice-President Ousmane Tanor Dieng of Senegal’s Socialist Party, who stated that democracy is in danger in Africa, where pseudo-democratic tyrannies are kept in power because of the frequent manipulations of the norms of accession and the devolution of powers; where designated heirs are installed in public and political areas of authority with the aim of preparing or organising "by electoral means" a succession to power, and where there is a resurgence of military coups. Outlining the need to work for the promotion of a truly democratic culture, he called for a framework which adopts shared values accepted and respected by political actors, citizens, judicial powers and the media alike. Later, Jean-Christophe Cambadelis of the French Socialist Party addressed the situation in Iran, calling the crisis of the Iranian regime a critical moment for the future of peace and democracy. Participants adopted a Declaration on Democracy, defining it as not only the organisation of regular, free and transparent elections but also as the democratic organisation of society politically and legally, with full respect for freedom in all areas, including the economy and social and environmental protection.
The Council also considered a progressive approach to the Environment and climate change, holding a discussion that sought to build on the work of the SI Commission for a Sustainable World Society (List of Speakers). Noting the work of the Commission across every continent under Co-Chairs Ricardo Lagos and Goran Persson, Socialist International Vice-President and Commission member Elio Di Rupo of Belgium introduced the debate. Highlighting the increased consciousness of ecological problems, especially in emerging countries such as China, India and Brazil, he underlined the need for Socialists everywhere to focus on environmental and social issues together, so that the International and its members would possess a new mentality and become greener than Green parties and movements. Also addressing the question of development, he articulated that the primary responsibility of developed countries should be to ensure that the proper amount of aid reached developing nations, and urged the EU in particular to help ensure sustainable growth that does not harm the environment, a call echoed by SI Vice-President Ramón Alburquerque of the Dominican Republic PRD, who, in discussing the importance of public good prevailing over private interest, added that a lack of sustainable environmental policies would not only render economic and social development impossible but threaten the very survival of humanity. Adopting a Declaration on Climate Change, the Council agreed that developed countries should set an example and make significant efforts to lead the way on this issue. It also maintained that the principle of common responsibility for our future, based on an approach adapted to countries’ respective capabilities, should guide future international protocols. Delegates supported the incorporation into the text currently under negotiation for Copenhagen, a paragraph that underlines the importance of ensuring a socially just transition for citizens, and highlighted the need for support from countries of the North to those of the South in order to finance the measures necessary for their adaptation to climate change, while ensuring technology transfers and help to put in place national strategies for low carbon development in developing countries. Also emphasised was the importance of reconciling in a balanced way the economic, social, environmental and cultural aspects of development while adhering to the concept of sustainable development. 
Fulfilling their statutory requirements, the SI Finance and Administration and the Ethics Committees met on the eve of the Council and elected Pertti Paasio of the SDP Finland and Maurice Braud of the PS France as their respective Chairs, both of whom reported to the Council on their Committee's discussions and decisions.
Concerning the issue of the empowerment of the International outlined in the Agenda, SI Secretary General Luis Ayala introduced a set of Rules of Procedure for the Council. Describing how our International had evolved from a small group of people with common ambitions, values and principles, he argued that it was now necessary to empower the organisation, as it had grown to incorporate 170 member parties and organisations from every continent of the globe. These rules of procedure applied to all aspects of the work of the Council, ranging from the process of formulating its agenda or deciding its dates and venues, to the conduct of its meetings and debates, the adoption of its resolutions, voting, minutes and other related procedural issues governing its discussions. Following debate on this subject, the Secretary General presented his Report detailing the International’s work in every continent since the last Council in Mexico, adding that in times such as these in which we live today, when people are concerned with the consequences of the different crises that we face, in a world every day more interdependent, and when global politics really matter, the values that we hold and the politics that we represent remain the hope for many.
Minutes of the meeting of the Council