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UN development forum in Monterrey, Mexico - an anti-development paradigm

by Jubilee South Tuesday, Mar. 19, 2002 at 5:00 PM

The UN's financing for development (FfD) process being discussed in Monterrey fails to address the key issues of global economic governance and systemic injustice that are at the root of poverty and the financing gap. This constitutes economic subversion, even terrorism, against the people of the South.

Statement by Jubilee South on the Financing for Development Meeting in Monterrey, Mexico

The Subversion of Development in Monterrey

The United Nations (UN) Financing for Development (FfD) process heralds a disaster for development. The Monterrey Conference is a festival of words that in no way brings the FfD process closer to its original goal of ensuring that sufficient and appropriate financial resources are made available to achieve the commitments made in landmark UN conferences and summits in the 1990s--including radically reducing poverty.

As UN member states mouth the pious rhetoric of poverty reduction and national development, they unashamedly seek financial and political favors from multinational corporations, bankers and financial institutions. Unfortunately, these are the same corporate interests that maintain that official development assistance (ODA) is a waste of money and that development is best left to the dictates of the free market.

To speak of public resources for development is a cruel joke at a time when military budgets have reached historically unprecedented levels. On top of an already bloated war budget, US$ 30 billion will be spent by the United States (US) alone to finance the war on terrorism. Across the world, rich and poor countries alike are increasingly defining security in terms of spending on military hardware while ignoring the more immediate priorities of livelihood, food, social, physical and environmental security.

FfD Off The Track

Resources are badly needed to fight the war on the terrorism of institutionalized poverty suffered by women, men and children in the developing world. In most cases, the required resources are and have always been present in the countries of the North and South. But in the light of entrenched bondage to external debt repayment, internationalized and domestic corporate welfare schemes, structural adjustment, and the systematic privatization of public goods and capacity, it is little surprise that most of the world's people are deprived of the resources to determine and shape their own development.

Financing for development would not be a problem if rich creditor countries were to unconditionally cancel much of the debt of the South: a debt that has already been paid many times over and which, in its very conception was illegitimate and often odious. Financing for development would also not be a problem if the more democratic governments of the South could find the political will not to service such debts, and if rich countries would seriously address the deteriorating terms of trade that keep debtor countries in a perpetual position of economic disadvantage. Plenty of resources could be freed up for development if trade and financial liberalization did not consistently drain our economies and undermine the possibilities for sustained domestic accumulation of national wealth. With a visionary approach to development financing, we would not remain trapped in the language of

external, debt-based financing sources, but attempt to protect and build domestic resources, potentials, capacities and economies.

The FfD process continues to divorce poverty as a national fact from impoverishment as a global process. The FfD consensus document does not acknowledge the historically entrenched--and often externally catalyzed--structural causes for the massive financing gap that currently paralyses national and local development efforts. On one hand, the FfD consensus document hails the importance of national policies and development strategies, and even claims that each country has primary responsibility for its own economic and social development. On the other hand, the document advocates the abandoning of economic and political sovereignty in order for UN member states to fully adopt market capitalism, international corporate investment and rapid trade liberalization as the principal means of securing resources for development.

The consensus document even speaks of "sustainable debt financing"; without addressing the use of debt as an instrument of domination and exploitation of the South. And although the document claims that debtors and creditors must share the responsibility for unsustainable debt situations, it continues to emphasize the policy measures that debtor countries need to undertake to qualify for debt "relief" and offers no alternative to current methods of determining "debt sustainability." The document enshrines macroeconomic and policy prescriptions standard in debt restructuring, including the reorienting of national legal and regulatory frameworks to facilitate privatization, trade and investment liberalization, and the marketization of land and natural resources. These same prescriptions have run the economies of the South to the ground time and time again.

UN's FfD is squarely and deliberately framed in the process of corporate globalization with increasing power for the transnational private sector and their State and institutional supporters. The Monterrey Conference will make a positive difference not to those crippled by high debt burdens and mal-development, but to the corporations and financial institutions that seek legitimation after the recent economic debacles in Asia, Africa, the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Turkey and Argentina.

If there were any hope that the United Nations could provide political space for alternative development thinking, that hope is being buried in Monterrey. The UN is steadily backpedaling on the multi-sector consultations, let alone the key declarations of the social, population and women's summits.

In essence, FfD marks the official acceptance of the privatization of development financing.

The FfD process fails to address the key issues of global economic governance and systemic injustice that are at the root of poverty and the financing gap. This constitutes economic subversion, even terrorism, against the people of the South.

Monterrey is a disaster in global terms because not only does it abandon development as a sovereign process of justice and redistribution, but because it goes on to legitimize through the UN the outright abandonment of development to the paradigms and power of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization.

In the context of the UN-supported, IMF-WB-WTO-defined FfD process, it has become crystal clear that civil society groups in the process are being used to legitimize an essentially illegitimate and anti-development paradigm. FfD should be a wake-up call to those who naively believe that fundamental changes in the dominant neoliberal paradigm can be achieved through reasoning and collaboration.

Take Back the Future

The battle for development, however, will not be won or lost in Monterrey. It will be fought and won where social progress has always been fought, that is at the level of the people themselves through the organization of popular power.

We call on peoples' movements and non-governmental organizations, therefore, to stand in opposition, as they have done at the World Social Forum, to a process of globalization commanded by corporate interests and by the governments, North and South, at their service.

We call on the United Nations to firmly establish its integrity and independence from the purveyors of the neoliberal system, the IMF, WB and WTO.

We further call for the United Nations to move forward in addressing development issues by taking the bold step of acting on the debt issue, a problem that has caused poverty for millions around the world. Towards this, we call on the UN to:

1. form a global commission with more than 50% representing civil society (and others from governments and the UN) to review the work of the IMF and other International Financial Institutions

2. pass an International Covenant regarding stolen wealth

3. launch an international investigation and inquiry into Governments and IFIs responsible for illegitimate, odious, onerous, fraudulent and criminal loans and other similar economic issues

4. adopt a Declaration and/or international convention to criminalize government policies that lead to the genocide and/or mass impoverishment of whole populations, whether directly on the part of a local government or through the action of accomplices such as creditor governments and institutions.

5. ensure compliance of member states and international institutions with existing human rights norms and mechanisms, including the supervision of the way in which external debt leads to the gross and systematic violation of civil, cultural, economic, political, and social Human Rights including the rights to self-determination and development.

We further call on movements in the South and the North to vigorously promote an economic vision that is based on human values, plurality, cooperativeness, concern for others, equality and the right of communities to exist.

End the subversion of development for the peoples of the South and all marginalized peoples of the world!


15 MARCH 2002

JUBILEE SOUTH is a network of jubilee and debt campaigns, social movements, people's organizations, communities, NGOs and political formations from more than 40 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and Asia/Pacific and composed of over 80 national campaigns, movements, organizations and regional networks.




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