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CALL FOR GLOBAL ACTIONS AGAINST IMF/WORLD BANK, SEPTEMBER 14-20

by Mobilization for Global Justice Thursday, Jul. 13, 2006 at 6:27 PM

Mobilization for Global Justice (MGJ) has endorsed the following call, written and distributed by Jubilee South, a coalition of social movements throughout the Global South who are resisting illegitimate debts and IMF/World Bank policies. The statement calls on people worldwide to take action in their own communities against the IMF/World Bank the week of September 14-20, while the institutions meet in Singapore.



Mobilization for Global Justice (MGJ) has endorsed the following call, written and distributed by Jubilee South, a coalition of social movements throughout the Global South who are resisting illegitimate debts and IMF/World Bank policies. The statement calls on people worldwide to take action in their own communities against the IMF/World Bank the week of September 14-20, while the institutions meet in Singapore.

In the spirit of the call, MGJ is calling for all peoples to engage in their own actions to contribute to the resistance and solidarity of peoples everywhere against the international financial institutions.

We encourage people to organize and act in their own communities first and foremost. If you need names of corporations in your area who benefit from IMF/World Bank policies and would be appropriate targets for protest, please let us know, and we will help you find their names and locations. And please let us know about your plans! We will compile a list of local actions and organizing contacts, to help better nationwide coordination in our movement in the future.

Realizing that not all people can protest locally, we encourage people who are not acting locally to go to where they feel they would be most valuable in furthering the goals of our movement. (For example, you could go to the local action that is closest to you.) Should that be DC, we would be honored to accept your contribution to the actions that we in MGJ are planning. We will provide a space to coordinate effective decentralized direct actions in Washington, DC, through a spokescouncil.

As such, MGJ will be organizing and acting in September, but we are not organizing mass housing nor are we requesting a large presence of people from outside of the region. We are planning creative direct actions, but not a mass mobilization.

Looking forward to the April 2007 International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings, MGJ calls for people to think about and organize resistance to the April 2007 meetings here in DC; we will be holding meetings in the future and welcome the participation of all who share our goals of a more just world, free of the bondage of the International Financial Institutions.

For more information:

www.globalizethis.org :: mgj@riseup.net :: 202-898-5953



CALL FOR GLOBAL ACTIONS AGAINST INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS

SEPTEMBER 14-20, 2006

For more than sixty years, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank together with their partner regional development banks and export credit agencies, have used international finance capital to exercise control and restructure the societies of the South to serve the interests of global private corporations and the economic and geo-political agenda of the few powerful nations that control these institutions. The resulting effects on people’s lives, on communities, on the environment, and on the economic as well as political structures in the South have been profound and over the years have generated numerous resistance struggles against these institutions.

Despite well-documented evidence and countless testimonies to the destruction, displacement and dispossession their policies and operations have caused, these institutions persist in legitimizing their role. In recent years they have declared themselves to be champions of “poverty reduction” and “good governance.”

This year, 2006, we pledge to intensify our struggles against these institutions and raise the level of international coordination and concerted action. In particular, we commit to organizing different forms of mobilization and direct action in many countries across the globe during the week of the IMF and WB Annual Meetings, September 14-20, 2006. This will include various activities and actions in the vicinity of their meetings in Singapore.

WE CALL on all people’s organizations, social movements, labor movements, women’s movements, farmers groups, first peoples, religious and cultural groups, community organizations, NGOs, political forces, and all concerned citizens around the world to join us in mounting vigorous actions that will focus the world’s attention on the destruction and human rights violations caused by the IMF and World Bank, the regional development banks, export credit agencies, and the neoliberal global system they enforce.

Our actions will identify issues and articulate demands that reflect the particular impacts of these institutions on each of our countries but will also be united on the following global demands:

1. Immediate and 100% cancellation of multilateral debts as part of the total cancellation of debts claimed from the South, without externally imposed conditionalities.

The inhuman and destructive consequences of debt domination which the international financial institutions play a major part in perpetuating are evidence against the outrageously deceitful claim of these institutions that they are working for “poverty reduction” and “financing for development.”

Debt relief initiatives of international financial institutions have to date covered only a very small part of the debt claimed from the South. Worse, these initiatives come with conditions that undermine the sovereignty of people to determine their own path of development, have proven harmful to livelihoods and the environment, and keep South economies tied to the interests of global private profit.

Cancellation of only a small part of the debt may release some funds that can be used for basic services but does not free the South from debt bondage. Debt cancellation must be 100%.

And for immediate action, we highlight the especially urgent cases – most of Africa, Haiti, Nepal, Tsunami-hit countries and others recently devastated by natural calamities, countries ravaged by war, societies overwhelmed by HIV/AIDS, and others experiencing severe social, financial and economic crisis.

We reject the international financial institutions’ “debt sustainability” framework. There is no level of debt that is “sustainable” in a global economic system that is founded on domination and exploitation of the peoples, economies and resources of the South. This framework is a means by which these institutions justify maintaining the “indebtedness” of Southern countries.

The insistence on their “debt sustainability framework” is also a refusal to address the more fundamental question of the illegitimacy of the debt claimed from the South. Peoples of the South should not be made to pay for illegitimate debts -- debts they have not benefited from, debts that financed projects that have caused displacement of communities and damage to the environment, debts wasted on corruption or failed projects, debts contracted through undemocratic and fraudulent means, debts with grossly unfair terms and harmful conditions, odious debts incurred by dictatorships, debt contracted in the context of exploitative international economic relations, debts for which peoples of the South have paid many times over.

Though the financial debts claimed from the South are of staggering amounts, totaling more than US.3 trillion dollars, the North in fact owes the peoples of the South a far, far greater debt. It is the historical, economic, social, and ecological debt accumulated over centuries of plunder and exploitation by North with the collaboration of Southern elites.

The IMF and the World Bank should bear the costs of writing off debts owed to them by using the World Bank’s loan loss provisions (valued at US billion as of June 30, 2005) and retained earnings (valued at US billion as of June 30, 2005) and IMF gold stocks. With the market price of gold surpassing US0 an ounce, the IMF’s 103.4 million ounces of gold are worth more than US billion, rather than the US billion recorded on the IMF’s books.

2. Open, transparent and participatory External Audit of the lending operations and related policies of the International Financial Institutions, beginning with the World Bank and IMF

Debt campaigns, movements, people’s organizations, and NGOs are now involved in preparing for and conducting country-level independent Citizens’ Audits of Debts claimed from South countries as well as calling on South governments to conduct transparent, open and participatory Government Audits (e.g. Parliamentary) of these debts. These audits are aimed at examining the origins and causes of the debt problem, taking stock of effects and impacts, bringing to light the dubious and illegitimate character of the debts, identifying responsibility and accountability, and establishing and strengthening the basis for urgent changes in national policies on the debt and related issues.

We challenge the international financial institutions to subject themselves to similar independent audits of the loans they have released, their lending policies, processes and operations, and the terms and conditionalities that have accompanied these loans, and take stock of the effects and impacts. Such audits should look into the culpability and accountability of these international financial institutions, and asses what restitution and reparations must be made.

The international financial institutions have recently been stepping up efforts to portray themselves as champions of good governance, including the announcement of renewed efforts and strategies to fight corruption. We challenge these institutions to begin with themselves and examine how they have been involved in creating and exacerbating the problem of corruption. External, independent audits of their loans, lending operations and conditionalities should include this question. Further, corruption must be seen as a systemic problem that also involves the private sector, especially transnational corporations.

3. Stop the imposition of conditions and the promotion of neoliberal policies and projects.

Through the conditions attached to their loans and programs, the IMF and World Bank have succeeded in restructuring the global economy. The widespread use of “structural adjustment programs” from the early 1980s in countries with significant debt, poverty, and financial problems has forced most of the South countries’ economic policies to ape those of the industrialized countries, regardless of how inappropriate those policies may have been for the countries’ development needs. Because of the imposition of neo-liberal policies on countries desperate for access to credit, peoples across the South now confront economies oriented to export production rather than providing for local markets, devastated manufacturing sectors, a large percentage of economic actors in foreign hands, valuable public assets privatized, health and other social sectors crippled by decades of de-funding, environmental resources devastated by over-exploitation, small farms and businesses wiped out by denial of credit and subsidies, and massive unemployment.

Our struggle against debt domination is waged in large part to win freedom from the conditions that indebted governments are blackmailed into accepting. For the September 2006 actions we demand:

a. In this 50th anniversary year of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the IFIs end the promotion of privatization of public services and the use of public resources to support private profits.

The IMF and especially the World Bank have been the main drivers in the global push for the privatization of basic services. They are joined by other financial institutions like regional development banks and export credit agencies.

The international financial institutions promote privatization of public services through policy conditions and policy advice, financing of projects that pave the way for privatization, providing technical assistance in the preparation of feasibility studies as well as the process of implementation, and even direct support for private companies taking over public utilities. The International Finance Corporation plays a major role in providing risk guarantees as well as equity assistance for these private companies, and facilitating government bail-outs of privatized utilities in distress.

The continued emphasis on privatizing basic services such as water provision – or, when no company is interested in purchasing the utility, arranging leases and service contracts – and the “commercialization” of even life-saving agencies such as those managing food reserves reflects a fixation on markets as the only organizing principle for economies even in the face of overwhelming contradictory evidence. Failure after failure of water privatizations in the South has not deterred the IFIs from their mission to wrest assets from public ownership.

Our message to the IFC and its multilateral partners is clear: no more public resources for support of private profit.

b. Stop IFI funding and involvement in environmentally destructive projects beginning with big dams, oil, gas and mining and implement the major recommendations of the Extractive Industries Review.

The international financial institutions are also presenting themselves as leading in the fight against climate change and environmental destruction. However, no amount of clever rhetoric about stronger commitments and new strategies can hide the fact that many projects designed, driven and supported by international financial institutions violate the already watered-down standards and safeguards avowed by these same institutions and cause massive environmental as well as social problems.

The World Bank is itself a major ecological debtor, having funded major projects such as hydro-electric dams, mines, pipelines and petroleum exploration and development projects which have displaced populations and wrought major environmental damage. The World Bank has refused to implement major recommendations of its own Extractive Industries Review including 1) the principle that communities faced with resource extraction projects must give free, prior and informed consent, 2) and the phase out of investment in hydrocarbon extraction projects.

The World Bank’s attempt to claim leadership on the issue of climate change with the application of its development of carbon credit trading is another tragic example of market fundamentalism. Entrusting the precarious future of the world’s climate to the World Bank’s clever market solutions distracts the major actors from focusing on the over-consumption that threaten to doom the planet and all who live on it. Meanwhile, the World Bank Group, which claims leadership in developing alternative energy, devotes much greater resources to developing conventional energy sources. Indeed, the World Bank is the world’s leading financer of projects producing greenhouse gases.

c. Immediately stop imposing conditions that exacerbate health crises like the AIDS pandemic and make restitution for past practices such as requiring user fees for public education and health care services.

IFI policies have aggravated health crises like the AIDS pandemic in a number of ways. Austerity measures have constrained health budgets, prevented the hiring of critically needed teachers and health care workers due to limits on spending for public sector employees, and kept people out of clinics and children away from schools by insisting on user fees. The macroeconomic policies the International Financial Institutions have imposed over the last 25 years – including fiscal austerity, high interest rates, unilateral trade liberalization and privatization of essential services - have led to lower growth rates and fewer improvements in social indicators than had occurred over the two decades between 1960 and 1980.

The IFIs owe an enormous social debt to countries whose public services have been damaged by their policies. Their creditors are the women of South countries, who have had to step in to provide the health care, the food, the teaching, the water, and the other basic goods and services put out of reach by IFI policies. The World Bank and the IMF should pay for free primary education and primary health care as a form of reparations or restitution for the damage their policies have caused.

As we take to the streets and plazas on September 14 to 20, in Singapore and around the world, we stand united in our call for an end to the destruction visited upon the South by the IMF, the World Bank, the other multilateral banks, and the countries that control them.

We call upon activists to tell us about their planned activities so that we may publicize them, and about the outcomes of their actions.

By Mobilization for Global Justice mgj@riseup.net http://www.globalizethis.org 202-898-5953
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