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ATHENS COUNCIL - Peace, Democracy, Solidarity: among peoples, across cultures

30-31 January 2006


Overcoming poverty and inequality: Global priorities for our movement today

The Socialist International has since its re-establishment in 1951 fought for solidarity, democracy, development, increased equality and peace. And the situation of the world has changed radically in recent years. Today more people than ever before live in democracies. And everyday more people rise from oppression, famine, sickness and illiteracy. But unfortunately Africa South of the Sahara has been left behind those positive developments.

At the same time inequalities of the world today are profound, between as well as within countries. Gaps between rich and poor are growing inside countries. And everywhere women are the poorest of the poor.

Inequalities have many faces; maternal mortality, lack of power and influence, lack of access to clean water and lack of a decent job. The world’s working poor and underemployed represent two major groups where the inequalities of our world today are very evident. Decent work therefore has to be at the core of development as well as of economic policies. Policies for decent work need to be global, regional and national at the same time. Decent work provides a possibility for economic development and growth at the same time as it provides dignity to the worker. Special attention must be brought to the situation of the young. Today half of the world’s population is below the age of 25. There must also be a focus on the big gender inequalities on the job-market.

Last year the 2005 World Summit gathered heads of states and governments from close to every country in the world discussing the interconnectedness of development, security and human rights. The final resolution from the summit provides a frame for a United Nations better equipped to meet the challenges of our time. The SI is also encouraged by the several positive steps that have been taken recently such as coordination of UN activities in disasters, the establishment of a humanitarian fund and a Peace Building Commission.

The Council of the Socialist International, meeting in Athens on 30-31 January, 2006:

- Reaffirms its commitment to fight all existing inequalities in the world. Together with its partner organisations SIW, IUSY and the international trade union movement the Socialist International will continue to strengthen the global labour movement.

- Urges all member states of United Nations to take responsibility for implementation and follow up of the 2005 World Summit and calls on the SI members to put pressure on governments to live up to their promises, being it policy or financial commitments.

- Recognises the necessity for increased coherence between different policies such as trade, development, agriculture and environment if we are to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

- Insists on rapid inclusion in the MDGs of reproductive health as well as employment indicators in line with the UN 2005 Summit resolution as part of the work in fulfilling the MDGs and for SI members to make concrete efforts to promote decent work and sexual and reproductive health and rights for all.

- Underlines the importance of the establishment of a Human Rights Council which would provide capacity building as well as normative standards.

- Calls upon all governments to honour the Monterrey consensus, meaning amongst other things for the developed world to live up to the promise that at least 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income should be spent on development assistance and for the developing world to live up to promises around good governance.

- Insists that the severe situation of poverty in Africa be urgently addressed.

- Urges governments to finalise the Doha development round in a successful way, as trade is one of the most important ways for a country to get income.

- Calls upon governments to support the Youth Employment Network, YEN, a cooperation between the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Labour Organisation.