Socialist International Commission for a Sustainable World Society
Momentous changes in the world over the last two decades have increased opportunities to advance the cause of freedom, democracy and human rights. Despite expectations however, the much-needed global institutions required at this time of change to overcome conflict and redress social divisions and inequality have not yet emerged.
On the contrary, new and ever more difficult political dilemmas are faced in different parts of the world, undermining the viability of political institutions at the national, regional and global levels. At the same time, conflicts are becoming more acute and new threats to security are arising, along with the mounting and increasingly harmful effects on the planet of global warming and climate change.
To further the common social democratic vision and strategy to address the new global political, social and environmental challenges of today, the Socialist International will establish a Commission for a Sustainable World Society. This body will include both leading political figures from different regions of the world and prominent representatives of civil society, as new actors alongside political parties in the democratic political process, and its membership will be decided following agreement by the SI Presidium. The Commission will report to the next Congress and its mandate and focus of work will be threefold:
(1) To design and put forward proposals for democratic forms of global governance as the foundation for building a peaceful and sustainable world society overall;
(2) To map out the ways in which social imbalances and economic inequality can be redressed through new forms of governance;
(3) To evaluate the threat of global warming and climate change and develop a global policy on energy as fundamental to any response to that threat.
1) To design and put forward proposals for democratic forms of global governance as the foundation for building a peaceful and sustainable world society overall
To make the necessary course correction for building a sustainable world society requires immense political will and new forms of governance necessary to achieve coordinated action at every level, especially between nations and international bodies.
Devising a strategy for peace and global preservation and establishing the governmental and institutional machinery to carry it out can happen only if there is an embrace of the idea of a common humanity and the raising of the consciousness of people everywhere as global citizens.
The long-held principles and values of the Socialist International, its belief in an interdependent world and its presence on every continent make it the only political organisation capable of successfully promoting such an effort.
An essential aspect of realising a more fair and effective form of global governance is reform of the United Nations, and UN member states must redouble efforts to revitalise and re-shape this indispensable institution based on democratic interaction between nations and stronger, more coordinated multilateral responses to the challenges confronting the world. The SI Commission for a Sustainable World Society would bring a new sense of urgency to this task.
2) To map out the ways in which social imbalances and economic inequality can be redressed through new forms of governance
A principal task of new global governance must be to ensure that the benefits of global economic growth and the opportunities for economic development are distributed fairly.
Too many people in different regions of the world are being left behind, exacerbating social divisions, cultural differences and inequality within and among nations.
New approaches must include full participation of women in all spheres - political, civic, economic and social - for they suffer the most from inequality and conflict and, when given the opportunity, contribute most effectively to efforts to achieve social justice, peace and security.
An equally critical focus of the Commission will be on youth, particularly their nurturing through education and health care, for it is the younger generation that will inherit the task of maintaining the struggle to reduce poverty and ensuring that economic growth is translated into dignified and truly life supporting employment.
3) To evaluate the threat of global warming and climate change and develop a global policy on energy as fundamental to any response to that threat
It is no longer a question if, but when the catastrophic effects of global warming will begin to take hold of the planet, fundamentally altering the earth's climate and environment and negatively affecting humanity's ability to respond to all the problems and challenges it already faces and making many of them worse or more difficult, from poverty, disease, violent crime and armed conflict, to human rights, economic development, migration of people and disarmament.
The earth has existed for millions of years but the question today is whether human behaviour will so alter the planet that eventually it will no longer be able to sustain human life, or whether humanity can change direction in time to preserve sufficiently the earth's present form to ensure a viable environment for the lives of future generations of human beings.
Given the known role of burning fossil fuels in global warming, as well as the steep climb in price for such fuels, promoting and improving the use of alternative sources of energy is ever more critical for countering the threat and achieving long-term sustainable development.
For climate challenge to be effectively met, and for the irreparable damage to the environment already underway to be minimised, the world must move without delay toward the greatest possible use of renewable energy sources.
Developing a fundamentally new paradigm for energy use and restructuring the global economy accordingly will require strong, experienced and sustained political leadership in combination with the work of the best minds of the scientific community.
Meeting of the Council of the Socialist International
Santiago, Chile, 6-7 November 2006
DECLARATION OF SANTIAGO
The world today is facing a growing number of critical issues that can only be addressed at the global level.
The Socialist International, which has long supported multilateral approaches in the conduct of world affairs, advocates the strengthening of existing global institutions and the establishment of new ones where necessary so that humanity can respond most effectively to the global challenges that are becoming more urgent by the day.
The International understands that these challenges, which no nation can escape and which are beyond their individual capabilities, require a progressive and humanistic response based on the belief in a common humanity that has been a pillar of our social democratic movement since it began.
The International underlines eight issues of vital importance to the future of our world and to which we must respond in a shared, prompt and determined manner:
The ever greater numbers of people migrating in this world do not want to abandon their countries or their families. They are compelled by a complex array of economic, social and environmental forces and must confront enormous risks, exploitation and rejection as they relocate, even as globalisation provides for increasingly freer flows of goods, services, finance and technology. This requires greater realism on the part of North and South to prepare a package of cooperative measures that can ease the plight of migrants and enhance the potential benefits both to them and the sending and receiving countries.
Global warming and climate change
The urgency and depth of this challenge was made clear most recently in the Stern report, issued in London, which drew on an abundance of research to emphasise the great magnitude of the risks involved in not responding adequately to global warming and the need for a coordinated international response without delay.
Free and balanced trade
The task is to strengthen the political will to establish a global system of trade in goods and services which is free in the sense that all can participate and all can derive the benefits. "Free trade" today is not entirely free or fair, given the continuation of anti-dumping legislation, agricultural subsidies and numerous other practices. Despite advances in the Doha Round, there remains the urgent need for an effective system of arbitration if the great potential of global trade is to be realised.
The international financial framework established at Bretton Woods in 1944 is no longer adequate for a world of instantaneous digital communication in which billions of dollars can be transferred with a single click of a computer. Without a clear and transparent system to regulate the enormous and lightning-fast flow of money and financial transactions, the global economy remains vulnerable to crises that will prove increasingly difficult to overcome.
The risk to humanity of quickly spreading pandemics that ignore national borders and that can overwhelm health-care systems has grown enormously in recent times, as has been evident in confronting the threat of bird flu and the emergence of new viruses resistant to drugs. A collective response based on transparency, heightened cooperation and the best science is indispensable.
Terrorism and narcotrafficking
A good part of the international system constructed in the last century to maintain peace and stability was based on preventing and resolving conflicts between nations. But today the world also confronts terrorism and the illegal drug trade, threats which everywhere have proven to be immune to unilateral actions by any nation.
Updating the United Nations
Preserving peace and ensuring respect for human rights requires that the United Nations be reformed, particularly the Security Council, so that it best reflects the world of today, provides the most effective framework for responding to the challenges we now face and contributes as well to the deepening of regional integration and cooperation.
Equal access in the digital society
The threat is that the global revolution in digital technology and the expansion of the internet becomes yet another area of division between haves and have-nots. There is great potential for digital communication to deepen democracy and strengthen citizenship by providing greater access to knowledge and expanding channels for expression, and some positive steps were taken at the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis. But greater international efforts are needed if all are to benefit from the digital age.
Each of the eight issues is the result of rapid globalisation and each requires a collective response. However, with each challenge there is either no international body or mechanism for addressing it, as in the case of migration, or no international body or mechanism that has shown that it can respond in a positive and conclusive way, as in the case of global warming, despite the advances made under the Kyoto Protocol.
The Socialist International believes that rapid and effective responses to today's global challenges require an interconnected set of global institutions with the active and balanced participation of the world's nations. Through these institutions nations must make a determined effort to agree programmes and norms and means of enforcement - in other words, a deeper and more effective multilateralism that reflects the input of all the people of the world. The International reaffirms its commitment to working toward that goal in every possible way.
The International has always stood for democratic, just and equitable societies based on solidarity and belief in the public good. Today the task is to build an international framework of governance which will ensure that this vision and these fundamental commitments and objectives can be secured in these ever-changing times.
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