The CADTM has always preferred to work as part of a collective on the elaboration of projects. It has sat on a number of committees responsible for the establishment of platforms and declarations at international level. Madrid 1994, Copenhagen and Brussels 1995, Chiapas and Manilla 1996, Mauritius and Caracas 1997, Saint-Denis 1999, Bangkok, Geneva and Dakar 2000, Porto Alegre 2001-2002-2003, Geneva 2003, Mumbai and Kinshasa 2004… all highlights in its history, through which it has made its contribution to the analysis being developed across the planet. These are examples of the democratic and restructural process, key elements helping to break down the sense of isolation and push forward the construction of a new partnership.
Indeed, it is a one of the CADTM’s distinguishing features that it has, from the very start, emphasised its international and internationalist calling. International – by the very nature of the issue, but internationalist also, for it has always sought to maintain a conduct in line with the anti-imperialist dynamic, with a new internationalism that was faltering at the time (the early 1990s) and clearly in more need than ever of reconstruction. Whilst the CADTM was establishing itself in Belgium, it opened its doors to other movements existing or being founded elsewhere, such as ATTAC from 1998-1999 or Jubilee South as of 1999. Whenever the opportunity arose, „social actors” from other parts of the world were invited to the CADTM, and the CADTM responded in its turn to the invitations to visit abroad after these initial contacts.
This international dimension has not prevented the CADTM from pursuing dogged activities at local level. The network is solicited by teachers, parishes, mosques, jobseekers, solidarity committees, trade unions… whatever the audience, the CADTM responds with the same objectives: understanding of the issue, awareness-raising, mobilisation.
As its own understanding of the mechanisms affecting the debt of the Periphery improved, the proponents of these mechanisms were refining their policies; the CADTM was required to extend its field of action. There is no sense in examining and condemning the broadsides against the education or health systems of the Peripheral countries, or in berating the damaging effects in these countries of privatisation and the dramatic consequences of unemployment and poverty, whilst turning a blind eye to the same perverse mechanisms, the same damaging policies, at work in one’s own back yard, failing to combat them with equal determination – even if they are not (yet) applied with the ferocity visible elsewhere. It is important, for example, when explaining the need for a global tax on speculative transactions, to address the issue of a tax on those excessive fortunes in one’s own country.
To take another example, this means that whoever is capable of decoding the injustice of the Periphery’s debt situation has a moral duty to attack with similar conviction the public debt of the industrialised countries. For the system of public debt in the North is also a means for transferring salaried workers’ and small producers’ wealth to the capitalist class. The same point can be extended to the East also: from the beginning of the nineties the CADTM opened up to the former Soviet states, who are also confronted with the problem of debt and adjustment, and where a number of different movements are working on alternative solutions.
A further indication of how the network’s reach has lengthened: the battle is now being fought in the fields of law and justice – in international law to be more precise. Legal action is being envisaged against the IMF and World Bank, for complicity with dictatorial regimes and the imposition of policies incompatible with human rights. The need to perform a citizens’ audit of the debt now occupies a central place in the activities of the CADTM and its partners; its initiatives with those of others on the issue of odious debt is attracting increasing international interest.
The openness of the CADTM’s approach is illustrated by its commitment to initiatives of public consultation (this includes the consulta for example, in which the Spanish public was consulted in March 2000 by the Citizens’ network for the abolition of the debt, and for which over a million participants were counted, and the referendum held in Brazil in September 2000 by the social movements, in which 6 million votes were cast, as well as the „spontaneous” popular vote on the FTAA [FTAA : Free Trade Area of the Americas], debt, and militarisation in Argentina, which mobilised over two million citizens at the end of November 2003) as it is by its role in the organisation of citizens’ debt audits or public debt tribunals.
These very practical initiatives have gradually given mass momentum to the international campaign for the cancellation of the debt; and this has in turn made a significant contribution to the success of other initiatives on the different continents world-wide (the international people’s tribunals in Porto Alegre in 2002 and Geneva in 2003 in particular). Finally we should mention the work of the CADTM network on the question of ecological debt, which adds further to the ground it covers.
As the CADTM’s activities have multiplied it has gained the support of an international network of scientists and university researchers across all the continents; this has enabled it to develop detailed scientific analyses and to reinforce its interventions through the creation of an international observatory on debt and development aid. It is therefore a source of scientific, technical and political expertise on the issue of development aid, and this has been recognised and utilised by numerous organisations in the alterglobalisation and trade union movements, in Belgium and elsewhere.