|Report from the WORLD
As the World Social Forum in Mumbai (Bombay) drew
to a close earlier this week, the parliamentarians present
adopted the following statement. Final Declaration of the
Fourth World Parliamentary Forum, Mumbai, India, January
1. During the past three years, the regular meetings of
the World Parliamentary Forum (WPF) took place in Porto
Alegre, Brazil. This January 2004, together with the World
Social Forum (WSF), for the first time it meets in Asia,
in Mumbai, India, and at a time of a deepening international
crisis, the Fourth World Parliamentary Forum here takes
on a special importance.
2. In the context of globalization, the powers of Parliamentarians
and Legislators to call executive governments to account
and to legislate freely have been deliberately undermined.
We reassert our legitimate authority to hold accountable
national and global authorities. We will work to reverse
this erosion of our sovereign law making powers.
3. Four years after the Seattle fiasco, the collapse of
the fifth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization
(WTO) in Cancun has shown that the present trade system
is not only in a legitimacy crisis, but that it is breaking
apart. Since the gap between the rich and the poor is widening
dramatically under the current trade system and the WTO
rule, the myth that unfettered free trade is the key to
global prosperity is utterly discredited. It is high time
now to re-shape international trade rules and promote fare,
equitable and sustainable trade, which is beneficial to
all nations and all people, so that it serves, rather than
obstructs, the cause of social and sustainable development.
The emergence of new international alliances such as the
G20 and the G90 indicate that the need for change is now
felt more broadly than ever.
We disapprove of the invitation made by the Swiss to host
a mini-ministerial of the WTO alongside the Davos World
Economic Forum of January 2005.
We, the participants of the WPF, are deeply committed to
the idea that another economic and trade paradigm, which
benefits the majority of the populations all over the world,
is possible and necessary. We call Parliamentarians and
Legislators to initiate and support a broad debate in the
respective Parliaments on self-reliant development, the
remaking of the global trade system, respecting and including
views and demands of the social movements and civil society
in general, and giving the UN the democratic control of
the multilateral financial and economic institutions.
4. The existing and projected free trade areas between
very unequal economies as FTAA has not produced a fair redistribution
of wealth, more and better jobs, increase of salaries and
sustainable social and environmental development. On the
contrary, together with irresponsible government policy
making, they have led to a concentration of production structures
in the hands of multinational companies, violation of human
and workers' rights, tax deficit and privatization of common
goods such as water and energy.
Lifting all trade barriers and eroding trade preferences
between unequal partners does not automatically lead to
more welfare for the whole of the populations. Focus must
be given to the diversification of economy, strengthening
of ecologically sound infrastructures, and to education,
health, transport system without which the country cannot
take benefits from international trade openings.
Each country must have the right to develop its own economic
and political potential. We are in favor of a priority for
regional integration based upon popular consultation and
consensus, democratic decision-making and control, respect
for human and social rights as defined by international
pacts and covenants, sustainable development, and cultural
We, as Parliamentarians and Legislators, are determined
to take up these demands and translate them into legislative
proposals for a peaceful regional integration with respect
for social rights, rural development, protection and diversification
of local economies, food sovereignty and cultural diversity.
We shall, as well, demand the implementation of a world
taxation system (like a "Tobin Tax" on international
financial transactions, and on corporate benefits ...) that
will contribute to finance third world countries' development.
5. The GATS negotiations inside the WTO present a threat
to public services in many countries. Requests, mainly coming
from the major industrialized countries, to open up markets
for the commercialization of education, public health, culture
and access to water and energy, reflect strongly the economic
interests of corporations. Privatization and lack of regulation
leads to private monopoly and does not serve the interests
of the poor, but undermines their basic needs even more.
Primary education itself, so essential for social and gender
equality, is threatened by present policies.
We shall take initiatives in our respective Parliaments
and Legislative Assemblies to demand from our governments
to review and reverse the GATS negotiations, so that provisions
maybe introduced to protect public services and guaranty
the right of public authorities to regulate. We support
the initiatives of city councils and local self-government
throughout the world to declare themselves GATS-free.
6. The issue of water is presently taking a special importance
on the international scene. It is thus necessary to clearly
state that access to water is a fundamental right, which
cannot be touched for profit-making reasons. Water is not
a commodity ... it is an essential and unsubstitutable natural
element for food production, daily life needs and many other
As has been underlined in Rome Declaration of December 2003,
it is urgent to formally recognize water as a common, public
good, according to the non-market-economy, and to exclude
it from the category of "market goods and services".
Poverty and lack of access to water resources are the cause
of millions of death in developing countries. Today, while
70 % of the world's water is used for productive activities,
so many people still have no access to safe drinking water.
Health is a major issue, but neo-liberal economic globalization
and structural adjustment plans increase sanitary emergencies
and decrease access to drugs and primary health care, so
they lead to the dismantling of public health structures.
Moreover, access to drugs is limited by high prices and
the patents of pharmaceutical companies.
We, as Parliamentarians and Legislators, will support the
international campaigns launched by social movements and
civil society organizations to protect the right of access
of all to water, and for the recognition of health as a
fundamental human right.
7. We shall fight in our respective Parliaments and legislative
bodies for land reforms and for land to be given to the
tillers in whichever country this task remains incomplete.
8. External debt under the regime of the IMF and the World
Bank has been an efficient tool to prevent any local social
economic development. While James Baker has insisted since
the end of the 1980s that Argentina has to pay its debt
contracted under a dictatorship, he is now asking the Club
of Paris to cancel the debt of Iraq ... because it was contracted
under a dictatorship. Not only is this double-standard unacceptable,
it also shows that the system of the debt is a key for economic
and political dominance. The "odious debt" question
(legacy of apartheid and dictatorial regimes) is but the
tip of the iceberg of the whole issue. We, as Parliamentarians
and Legislators, commit ourselves to the cancellation of
foreign debt of developing countries, striving at the same
time for the establishment of "fair and transparent
arbitration processes (FTAP), which enable the concerned
citizens to participate in the allocation of funds free
from the debt circuit.
9. The war led by the Bush administration in Iraq represents
one of the most ominous developments in the international
political situation in the past year. It shows the full
implications of the Bush doctrine of "pre-emptive war",
and of United States unilateralism. It has worsened the
dynamics of war threatening today's world, creating new
obstacles to reaching necessary political settlements in
many regions, like in the case of Palestine and Israel,
of Mindanao in the Philippines or of the Korean peninsula.
A new impulse has been given to the arms race and nuclear
It is evident that we did not support the Saddam Hussein
regime; we support democracy everywhere. We strongly oppose
the unilateralist military and political intervention of
the US in Iraq and other countries. We reject the attempts
of the US to undermine legitimate international political
processes, specifically the United Nations.
In the name of anti-terrorism, basic Human Rights are denied,
and populations like migrants and asylum seekers find themselves
in a more vulnerable situation than ever before. The US
government is freeing itself from international laws and
conventions, as is especially shown in the scandalous development
at Guantanamo. Many of the violent conflicts in Africa are
to a large extent are due to the role of few Western Multinational
Corporations eager to confiscate the resources of this continent.
There have been attempts by the business sector to establish
codes of conduct that address social, environmental and
human rights issues. These issues (UN "Global Compact",
International Business Council for Sustainable Development)
have been used for "greenwashing". "Corporate
social responsibility" therefore urgently needs independent
monitoring an shall not weaken national legislations.
Anti-drug anti-terrorist legislations are too often used
against social movements, as dramatically shown in the case
of Bolivia and Colombia. In Colombia, up to three millions
peasants have been displaced in favor of corporations, trade-unionists
are being assassinated, Indian communities are being exterminated,
and there is impunity against human rights violations, while
the US intervention and extension of the war threaten civil
society and neighboring countries like Ecuador, Venezuela
One major international duty for Parliamentarians and Legislators
is today to fight the Bush doctrine of "pre-emptive
war", to extend solidarity with peoples in zones of
conflicts, to defend Human Rights, to defend the Right of
the peoples to decide their own future through peaceful
and democratic means and put an end to arms race, including
a universal ban on nuclear weapons. We, Parliamentarians
and Legislators, have the duty to act as peacemakers and
to look for the end of violence. We commit ourselves to
strive for a new world order based on respect of the UN
Charter principles and international conventions. We support
a reform of the UN system, to begin with a restructuring
and enlargement of the UN Security Council in order to increase
the representation of developing countries and reinforce
the legitimacy and effectiveness of the UN system.
10. We, as Parliamentarians and Legislators, commit ourselves
to strive for a worldwide ratification campaign of the International
Criminal Court (ICC) Statute, and urge national Parliamentarians
not to sign Bilateral Immunity Agreements (BIAs) with the
US despite the loss of US aid.
11. The combined impact of the worldwide implementation
of neo-liberal economic policies and of the dynamics of
war is very deep. There is a constant erosion of democratic
rule and social rights, with processes of remilitarization
in a number of countries. This favors the rise of religious
fundamentalisms and sectarianisms, as well as the danger
of terrorism, which seeks to disrupt the unity of people.
It contributes to multiply obstacles to the assertion of
gender equality and of minorities' rights. We oppose all
We, Parliamentarians and Legislators, recognise the specific
importance in such a context of the present rise of the
movements against corporate and military globalization,
of the workers struggles to defend social rights and public
services, of the worldwide anti-war mobilizations and, within
them, of the social forum processes. New solidarities are
being tied, international convergences for common actions
are being built, alternatives to the dominant economic and
military world order are here being collectivized.
12. In South Asia especially, where the Fourth WPF meets,
we, Parliamentarians and Legislators, recognise the paramount
importance of forging and broadening the unity of the people
against the current corporate project of globalization spearheaded
by the IMF-WB-WTO triumvirate. In order to achieve this
project, such forces, in obnoxious attempts, play up differences
based on ethnicity, race, religion and historical feudal
legacies like the caste.
-- We recognize the strivings of the people in South Asia
to end regional conflicts and establish peace through a
process of constructive dialogue to resolve disputes and
strengthen regional cooperation;
-- We recognize the increasing assertion of the women's
movement in opposing gender discrimination and in establishing
gender justice, which, again, faces challenges not just
from neo-liberal economic policies but also from forces
of fundamentalism and revivalism;
-- We extend support to the assertion of hitherto indisposed
and socially oppressed groups to achieve social justice;
-- We note and extend our support to the concerns of ethnic
and religious minorities for a just and equal social order,
which will enable their participation as partners and not
-- In this, we recognize the need for opposition to not
just the governments but also forces of fundamentalism,
obscurantism and sectarianism, which disrupt the unity of
the people. We condemn all forms of terrorism, including
individual and state terrorism.
The respect of cultural identities (including the right
to speak one's own language) is an integral part of human
sustainable development. We, Parliamentarians and Legislators
from all countries, engage to protect the world against
a single and homogeneous culture and prevent xenophobia.
WPF shall mobilize against discrimination of all kinds --
be it racial, gender, religious, caste, economical, political,
social or territorial. Every citizen of the world must be
treated with dignity.
13. The World Parliamentary Forum and the International
Parliamentary Network (IPN), constituted after the First
WPF at Porto Alegre in 2001, has already initiated several
campaigns on issues like the taxation of financial transactions,
the GATS and the defense of public services, on sustainable
development at the occasion of the Johannesburg Conference
(Rio + 10) and on the WTO at the occasion of the Cancun
conference. These campaigns remain. For 2004, it will mobilize
in particular on the following issues:
14. March 20 will be an international day of mobilization
against war and the Bush doctrine. It is an essential occasion
to fight for a world of peace, to extend our solidarity
toward peoples in struggle (like in Palestine) and to address
the political issue of zones of conflicts (as Iraq, Palestine-Israel,
Pakistan-India, Mindanao and the Korean peninsula), and
to integrate better the demand for a universal, general
ban on nuclear weapons in the overall peace movement.
15. The issue of social and environmental development will
be concretely raised at the occasion of the June 2004 UNCTAD
meeting in Sao Paulo, at which time an attempt to revive
the WTO rule will be made. We shall follow closely any future
negotiations concerning the WTO to express the need for
a fair trade for all people.
16. We express firmly our support to the social transformation
process in Venezula, and reject any kind of foreign intervention.
17. The first meeting of the Latin American Branch of the
International Parliamentary Network in Caracas, in November
2003, has adopted a clear statement against the present
FTAA negotiations, which took place without any participation
of Parliaments of the concerned countries, which violated
Constitutions and exclude the sovereign participation of
the people. We fully support this assessment and call for
a stop of the negotiations. We share the demand of the Latin
American branch to bring cases of violations of human rights
of migrants before the international bodies and to start
to work in order to ensure the free movements of persons
all over the continent.
We support legislative initiatives to recognize all human,
social, civic and labor rights of immigrant workers, especially
in the USA and the European Union (EU). Since decades, Colombia
is a country with a worldwide negative record of human rights
violations. Since the beginning of the presidential term
of Alvaro Uribe Velez, the situation has even worsened.
We urge the government to immediately implement the recommendation
of the United Nations, and particularly dismantle paramilitary
groups, return to the constitutional democratic rights revoking
the presidential decrees, unconditionally protect social
activists, human rights defenders and Parliamentarians of
the political opposition, at present under constant death
threat. We also urge the Colombian government to negotiate
a humanitarian agreement, in order to effectively protect
the civil population from war violence and to re-initiate
peace negotiations. This agreement would be the first step
for the release of Ingrid Betancourt, a presidential candidate
kidnapped almost two years ago, and all the other victims
of kidnappings in the country.
18. The European Parliamentary Forum met for the first
time in November 2003, at the occasion of the Second European
Social Forum. The European pole of the IPN will support
the trade union days of mobilization, April 2 and 3, and
the day of action for a social Europe on May 9, called by
the coordination of social movements.
19. The WPF welcomes the proposal of creating a South Asian
Parliamentary Forum to carry forward the Parliamentary movement
for the ideals laid down in the final declaration adopted
at WPF 2004, in the region.
20. The WPF and the IPN will mobilize itself in defence
of Parliamentarians facing repression and death threats
because of their progressive engagements.
21. The WPF and the IPN will defend as well progressive
social movements and civil society organizations, and their
members, facing repression. We shall campaign for the abolition
of death penalty everywhere.
22. The WPF, the IPN and its members will continue to support
the world social forum process and the campaigns of social
and citizen movements. They will strengthen their links
with them, and pursue a dialog on the elaboration of alternatives
to the present world order. We shall work closely with the
next WSF organizers in order to have a more active interaction
with social movements.
23. The Fifth regular meeting of the WPF will be held at
the occasion of the next World Social Forum (January 2005,
in Porto Alegre).
This report appears on: www.spectrezine.org/global/wsf.htm
For more information on the WEPF go to www.forumparlamentarmundial.rs.gov.br/