11 February 2005
Previous posts in this blog speak of the Porto Alegre Consensus Manifesto. Basically, this is a World Social Forum document that was drafted and signed by 19 high profile thinkers. The idea was for Forum participants to agree on clear set of goals for world economic reform. The result has been controversy about whether or not the Forum should have a manifesto, and whether it should have been drafted in this (some say) top-down way. Does it represent the views of the Forum? What should we think if it does? Here's a list of the first 19 who signed. Recognise any of the names? Aminata Traoré, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Eduardo Galeano, José Saramago, François Houtart, Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Armand Mattelart, Roberto Savio, Riccardo Petrella, Ignacio Ramonet, Bernard Cassen, Samir Amin, Atilio Boron, Samuel Ruiz Garcia, Tariq Ali, Frei Betto, Emir Sader, Walden Bello, Immanuel Wallerstein. Until now, there hasn't been an English version on the web. This is a rough translation from Spanish, courtesy of Daniel Bloch in New York (click below).Another World is Possible, with new economic regulations that respect every person’s right to life. Therefore, it is necessary to: 1) Cancel the public debt of countries in the South; which has been paid on various occasions and is the best way for creditor States (international financial establishments and institutions) to force most of humanity to accept their protection and, in turn, prolong people’s misery. 2) Apply international taxes/rates to financial transactions (especially applying the Tobin tax/rate on speculative transactions on currency), to direct foreign investment, to consolidated profits of transnational corporations, to the sale of arms, and to activities that emit gases that contribute to global warming. 3) Progressively dismantle all kinds of fiscal, legal and banking havens, which are nothing more than refuges for organized crime, corruption and all kinds of trafficking, fraud and fiscal evasions, and opportunities for company and government complicity. 4) Ensure that each person has a right to work, to receive social security and to retire, respecting the equality between men and women, this being imperative for national and international public policy. 5) Promote all forms of commercial justice by rejecting the World Trade Organization free-trade regulations, and by implementing mechanisms that permit the processes of production that bring goods and services more progressively to a new level of social norms (as per the recommendations of the International Labour Organisation (ILO)), totally exclude education and health, social services and culture from the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) of the WTO. The convention on cultural diversity that is being negotiated in UNESCO right now should explicitly claim the right of culture over the right of commerce. 6) Guarantee the right of each country to nutritional sovereignty and security by promoting rural agriculture. This assumes complete suppression of the subsidies on the exportation of farm products by the United States and the European Union, and the possibility of taxing imports in order to stop dumping practices. In the same way, each country or group of countries should be able to decide individually to prohibit the production and importation of genetically-altered foodstuffs. 7) Prohibit all “patents on the mind” and on living things (be they people, animals or plants), in the same way as with the privatization of people’s common goods, namely water. (B) Anther World is Possible if we encourage a just and peaceful life for all humanity. Therefore, it is necessary to: 8) Above all, fight for different public policies against all kinds of discrimination, sexism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and racism; fully recognize the political, cultural and economic (including the regulation of natural resources) rights of indigenous communities. 9) Take urgent measures to put an end to the destruction of the environment and to the threat of serious climate change brought on by global warming, and exacerbated by the excessive use of individual transportation and non-renewable energy. We must begin to instate another model of development rooted in energy conservation and the democratic control of natural resources, especially drinking water. 10) Demand the dismantling of foreign military bases and the expulsion of their troops except those serving under an official United Nations mandate. (C) Anther World is Possible if we promote democracy of all kinds, from local to global. Therefore, it is necessary to: 11) Guarantee the right to information for all citizens by means of legislation that: a) puts an end to the concentration of resources among a few exclusive communication giants; b) guarantees autonomy for journalists before shareholders; c) favors non-for-profit press outlets, particularly alternative and community-based ones. The respect of these rights implies civil checks-and-balances, particularly in the form of national and international media watchdog groups. 12) Profoundly reform and democratize international organizations, among them the UN, insuring the upholding of human, economic, social and cultural rights in concordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This implies the incorporation of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and WTO [in the image] of the decision-making system of the UN. Should the US persist in violating international law, it would be necessary to transfer the UN headquarters from New York to another place, preferably in a country of the South. Porto Alegre / January 29, 2005 You can find the text of the Manifesto in Spanish and French on this page.