With close to three hundred delegates participating from some hundred parties and organisations from all continents, the Socialist International held its most recent Council meeting in Santiago, Chile, on 6 and 7 November, hosted by its member parties in that country.
Chile, which has today the first woman President of the Republic, Michelle Bachelet, has a long history of relations with the Socialist International, relations which were consolidated during the years when Chilean progressive forces were working to restore democracy in that country. The Concertación, the alliance which brought Michelle Bachelet to power, and to which the three member parties of the International in Chile belong, constitutes an experience and a valuable approach within the current political scenario in Latin America, particularly with regard to achieving economic growth with solidarity and social protection.
The Council meeting was opened by the President of the Republic, with a speech in which she highlighted the work and contribution of the Socialist International to the emerging new global reality, where the full enjoyment of citizens' rights, the search for prosperity and social justice and international cooperation for development and peace are placed at the centre of the political agenda. In the opening session, the President of the Republic of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Oscar Arias, also addressed the members of the Council, emphasising the role of progressive forces in three tasks he considered essential: putting a stop to the arms trade; halting the destruction of the environment; and ending poverty. The President of the Socialist International and leader of the Greek socialists, George Papandreou, underlined the global contribution of socialists to democracy and the defence of human rights, as had been demonstrated by the experiences of Chile and Greece. He reiterated the relevance of the International in the world today, which requires new forms of global governance and new, coordinated, responses to the growing, common challenges.
On the agenda of the Council were three key themes. The first, "From National to Global Governance: Priorities for a Sustainable Future", was introduced by Ricardo Lagos, former President of the Republic of Chile, and the debate included different contributions, among them, by Camilo Escalona, President of the Socialist Party, PS, from the host country, by José Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organisation of American States, OAS, who presented a perspective from the hemisphere, and by a range of party leaders from different regions, Ministers of State, and other leading figures from member parties in the International (List of speakers). The second theme was "Energy and Climate Change: A Call to Action", and a number of delegates at the meeting participated in this discussion, with three introductions, one by Sergio Bitar, President of the Party for Democracy, PPD, of Chile; one by Elio Di Rupo, Leader of the Socialist Party of Belgium, PS; and another by Rolando Araya of the National Liberation Party of Costa Rica, PLN. (List of speakers). The third theme on the agenda "New Horizons for Peace: Promoting Solutions to Conflicts" had a number of contributions, among them, by Patricio Morales, of the Radical Social Democratic Party, PRSD, from the host country; Horacio Serpa, former candidate to the Presidency of the Republic of Colombia on the conflict there; Piero Fassino, National Secretary of the Democrats of the Left, DS, of Italy, Ahmed Sobboh, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Palestinian Authority, and Doureid Yaghi, Vice President of the Progressive Socialist Party, PSP, of Lebanon on the situation in the Middle East; Takuya Kawai, of the Social Democratic Party of Japan, who spoke on the crisis in the Korean Peninsula; and Jacques Baudin of the Socialist Party of Senegal on conflicts in Africa (List of speakers).
Among the decisions taken at the meeting, the Council adopted the Declaration of Santiago, a document outlining the priorities and challenges for global governance and also agreed the setting up of a Socialist International Commission for a Sustainable World Society, whose task will be to present proposals to the next Congress of the International on governance, linked with peace and sustainability and in response to the challenge of overcoming growing social and economic inequalities. The Commission also has a mandate to develop proposals on energy policies to tackle global warming and climate change. Other adopted documents included resolutions on Belarus and Puerto Rico and a call for Peace in Colombia. The Council also decided to send an observation mission to the elections in Venezuela this coming 3 December; to send a mission to Côte d'Ivoire to help towards ending the conflict and relaunch the envisaged electoral calendar in order to overcome the crisis in that country; the visit of a mission to Colombia with the aim of contributing to peace; to continue following closely the situation in the Middle East and use each opportunity as it arises to move forward the agenda for peace in that region, as well as continuing to contribute to resolving the difficulties facing the Kurdish people. The Secretary General, Luis Ayala, presented an overview of the different activities carried out by the International in the last period and outlined the forthcoming initiatives planned, which will include various regional meetings in different continents as part of the efforts to further the presence and the positions of the movement worldwide; thematic meetings and conferences, strengthening the platform of the International; and the sending of observation, solidarity or study delegations or missions, to be undertaken in the next months in contact with the organisation's member parties in different parts of the world.
The Council, in line with the organisation's Statutes, elected Kurt Beck, Leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, SPD; Armando Guebuza, President of Frelimo of Mozambique; and Ramón Alburquerque, President of the Dominican Revolutionary Party, PRD, Dominican Republic, as Vice-Presidents of the International, occupying three vacant positions on the Presidium. The Council also approved the Financial Report for the year 2005, the budget and membership fees for the year 2007, and a report of the SI Ethics Committee in which it announced the beginning of a process of examination concerning the formation of the governmental alliance which includes its member party in Slovakia, and recommendations for membership on the change of status of existing members and the admission of new members which will be put to the next Congress of the International.