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The CADTM has set itself five missions:

— to offer a detailed analysis of the origins and consequences of debt in the Periphery, and of the technical and political options for its cancellation;
— to elaborate alternative policies for financing human development and radically transforming the world’s institutional and financial framework;
— to define the road towards the universal protection of fundamental rights;
— to strengthen social movements and citizen networks at national and international levels;
— to challenge political leaders at each of these levels, pushing them to introduce guarantees of the fundamental human rights and to implement the alternatives proposed by the CADTM and other social movements.

The changes in the world economy over the last two decades have shown that populations on the Periphery cannot expect their claims to be satisfied by the unstable financial markets operational in barely a handful of developing countries. At the same time, the conditions attached to the loans of the IMF and the World Bank (with the blessing of the cartel of highly industrialised countries, the Paris Club) have encouraged macroeconomic reforms that have exacerbated inequalities, generated wide-scale poverty, and left countries at the mercy of their debt and a global market dominated by the industrialised countries’ transnational corporations.

It is therefore crucial that these populations free themselves from their dependence on the financial markets and multilateral loans. An alternative model is needed, structured around a set of fundamental principles: South-South complementarity, the redistribution of wealth to put an end to scandalous social inequalities and the provision of well-resourced development funds under the democratic control of the citizens and parliaments of the countries concerned. This would require the introduction of transparent and efficient surveillance procedures, and, more generally, of mechanisms for direct and democratic popular participation allowing the citizens themselves to plan and run the social programmes determining their future.

How can these funds be resourced? In the first case, of course, with the amounts made available by the cancellation of the debt of the Periphery countries. Their debt has been reimbursed eight times over since 1980! But it has quadrupled in the meantime. This debt is illegitimate; it has, for the most part, never benefited the local population. It has allowed the transfer of massive amounts of capital from the South to lenders in the North (some 300 billion dollars per year), whilst capitalists in the South take their commissions on the way. Its reimbursement impacts directly on the countries’ social welfare budgets, and has resulted in the „economic re-colonisation” of the Periphery by the transnationals and governments of the most industrialised countries.

The dominant classes in the Periphery countries themselves participate in the globalised capitalist system, profiting from their country’s debt situation. They exploit the country’s salaried workers and small producers (farmers and tradesmen) and invest the capital thus accumulated in the highly industrialised economies. They then borrow from the banks and financial markets of the North. Their loans are often covered by State guarantees and, in the event of default, are taken over by the public authorities at home, thus increasing the national debt.

As for the industrialised countries’ transnational corporations (and this includes the banks) and the international institutions that defend their interests (the IMF, World Bank, WTO, Paris Club…) they are carving up the planet between them, starting with the Periphery, which they treat as a huge reserve of cheap raw materials and labour. They exploit the debt situation, forcing governments on the Periphery to adopt economic measures (for so-called „structural adjustment”) which allow them in practice to re-colonise. They exploit the local natural resources (oil, gold, diamonds, water, wood…), privatise the basic public services (water, health, education, electricity, telecommunications…), and reinforce the „all for export” model. Economic and political policy is set in the lender states’ capitals for adoption by the borrower governments. National cultures wilt under the „made in the US” lifestyle.

As noted above, debt cancellation remains for the CADTM an insufficient but essential pre-condition. We also call for [For a fuller account of the CADTM’s proposals, see Eric Toussaint, La Finance contre les peuples. La Bourse ou la Vie, chapter 19, co-edition CADTM (Liege) – Syllepse (Paris) – CETIM (Geneva), 2004, 638 pages.]:

— the payment of compensation by the most industrialised countries for the pillage they have wrought over centuries in the Peripheral countries. The last five hundred years in particular have been scarred by the colonial conquest, the ’mining’ and exportation of black slave labour, the extermination of populations, the extinction of local cultures (or of entire civilisations), the depletion of resources and degradation of the environment. The current subjection to a system of foreign debt is just one more level of exploitation. The populations on the Periphery are victims of this pillage; they are therefore entitled to reparation. Over the course of history the most industrialised countries have contracted a historical and ecological debt towards these people. It is now time to transform what is termed official development assistance (ODA) into grants in reparation. In the light of the commitment made by the industrialised countries at the 1992 Rio conference (development aid levels of at least 0.7% of the gross national product), the funds allocated to governmental aid should be tripled and redirected to a „reparation fund”. (In 2003 the average aid granted by the countries of the North amounted to 0.23% of their gross domestic product). The CADTM therefore backs the African organisations at the UN Conference Against Racism in Durban in September 2001, who demanded compensation for the historical crimes committed against their populations, and for the ravages of the slave trade in particular. It also supports those movements fighting for recognition of an ecological debt.
— the return of property misappropriated by elites in the South: the peoples of the South have been despoiled by the vilest of dictatorships, often acting with the support of the North and aided by systems of social impunity. The despoliation continues in the guise of „good governance”. Ever since the removal of controls on capital flows under the pressure of the international financial institutions there has been a massive delocalisation of capital, and the laundering of criminal gains has become easier. The property misappropriated must now be returned to the deprived populations; to achieve this, international inquests will have to be held and the rule of banking secrecy abandoned.
— the taxing of financial transactions (e.g. the Tobin tax): even if the introduction of such taxation curbed the speculative frenzy of the financial operators and reduced the volume of transactions to 500 billion dollars a day (from the 1 250 billion a day in 2003), a levy of 0.1% would make 120 billion dollars a year available.
— the establishment of a new global tax on the bigger fortunes, as proposed at the 1995 UN Conference on Trade and Development.
— the introduction of an international programme for the conversion of military expenditure into social and cultural expenditure.

Measures such as these would liberate several hundred billion dollars for a development fund. The United Nations estimates that 80 billion dollars would be required annually over a ten year period to provide universal access to basic social services (in addition to the sums already being allocated for this purpose). These funds would offer the countries of the South the means to establish models of development at their own pace, financed for the most part from their own savings, organised into regional programmes, and respectful of their natural resource base and cultural specificities.

We repeat that the active participation of the local populations in the decision-making process on matters of direct concern to them is fundamental (through the parliamentary process in particular). In addition to this, all macroeconomic structural adjustment conditions imposed by lenders must be abolished.

The CADTM has also pronounced itself in favour of a new international economic and financial architecture. This means:

— the radical reform or replacement of the IMF, World Bank, and World Trade Organisation;
— the regulation of the financial markets. No development aid can achieve its aims if the shadowy and speculative financial markets remain unregulated. For this, all financial operations will have to comply with standards of traceability and transparency, and controls will have to be introduced on international capital flows;
— the abolition of tax havens.

Finally, the CADTM sees the emancipation of women as an integral part of its principal aims and demands. It calls for a general reduction in working time. It adds its weight to the cause of immigrants without documentation and the collectives supporting them, and denounces the use of detention centres, expulsion orders, and policies of policing and exclusion. It supports those movements and citizens in the South and the North calling for radical agrarian reform and food sovereignty, and those who reject the development, cultivation and commercialisation of genetically modified organisms (GMO). It opposes the criminalisation and repression of these social movements – and of social contestation in general.

More generally for the CADTM, all peoples should have the right to define their own mode of development, without being obliged to align themselves on the present predominant model whose potential for social and ecological devastation is obvious. A new international architecture is required, whose role would be to apply the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Multilateral Environmental Agreements, the basic conventions of the International Labour Organisation, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the European Convention on Human Rights, the Geneva Convention, etc.

In this context the democratic role to be played by the member states of the international institutions is of prime importance: their national parliaments should be required, after consultation with the ministries, trade unions, NGOs and associations concerned, to produce annual reports on the policies pursued by their governments within these organisations; priority should be given to ensuring that these policies are compatible with the promotion of fundamental human rights.

In this respect the CADTM upholds the principle of the inseparability of rights: economic, social, cultural and environmental rights should all be protected with the same vigour as civil and political rights. This requires in the first place the adoption of a protocol such as was requested in 1993 by the conference of Vienna, and, in the second place, the possibility of trying certain economic crimes as crimes committed against humanity and, by nature therefore, exempt of prescription. It is the judicial system’s prime responsibility, wherever it may be, to ensure that basic human rights are respected, in the North as in the South. All political activity should see this as its guiding priority.