Kairos logo Kairos Hearing 1994.


Concluding statements from a global perspective:

Bob Goudzwaard:
And now the time has come for the concluding statements. I welcome now Mr. Atherton Martin. He already is well known to you because of his contribution this morning. Later on Mr. Marc Lenders, who is the representative of one of the sponsoring organisations and belongs to the staff of EECCS in Brussels, will close this session. We listen now to Mr. Atherton Martin who will also introduce his own background in giving this contribution of today.

Atherton Martin:
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Ladies and gentlemen, I am listed in the programme here as speaking on behalf of the North American NGOs in fact that should include Japanese, because the colleague who was supposed to be here this afternoon to speak to the situation in Japan had to leave early, and he has given me some notes which I will tempt to share with you. I am speaking on behalf of these Northern organisations because I've had an association with one of them, the Development Group for Alternative Policies (DGAP). As a policy analyst in Washington for about three and a half years I studied the impact of the US economic policy on the Caribbean and Latin America and documented that exercise with a view to getting the US Congress to consider an entirely different approach to managing its economic relations with the Caribbean. So, in that sense, that is the reason why I have been asked and I have accepted to speak to you and to share with you some of the thoughts as to what is going on in the US and Japan to the extent that I have some notes of that regarding the campaigns to deal with a new order.
But it is interesting, I was listening to Mr. Petrella this afternoon with great glee, and I have with me here a little document which is entitled "The World Bank. Current Answers and Questions (For Staff Use Only)", dated April 1993. Actually, what I have here is the table of contents and in and of themselves the table of contents are remarkable. This is in fact a little booklet prepared by the Information on Public Affairs division of the World Bank to give the staff of the World Bank the answers to questions that they anticipate will be asked to the staff of the World Bank. And I thought we might commence our concluding section by looking at what are some of the questions that the Bank anticipates will be asked of its members and why does the Bank believe that these are the questions that the Bank must tell its staff how to answer. There is a random selection of some of the questions. On page 10 it goes like "How well have Structural Adjustment Programmes worked?", and "Is the Bank's call for better governance a prelude to political conditionality?", "Why does the Bank lend to corrupt governments that everyone knows siphons off aid to personal bank accounts and brand the old schemes?" This is a question that the Bank is preparing its staff to answer.

Interruption from the audience:
What is the answer?

Atherton Martin:
I don't have the answers, all I do is have the questions. This just came to me before I came to this meeting from a college who thought that I would be amused by this. It goes on, and then it gets even more interesting: Question No. 90 hold your breath! it says: "How can the Bank justify building a new multi-million dollar office complex in Washington D.C. when its poorest members are so needy?", and "When are bank staff authorised to travel in first class?", and "Does the Bank own a golf course near its headquaters?", and "What are the salaries of non-US bank staff, why are they free of US income tax?", and "Why is the Bank giving a large salary increase to staff at this time (1993) in view of the fact that many countries are still in a recession." And so on, and so on, and so on...
So, brothers and sisters, I think what we have here, if you take this and put it alongside to what we heard this afternoon and what our other colleagues have been telling us over the day and a half, I think what we see here is that there is more than enough reason for amounting a global campaign for a different dispensation from the one that has been visited upon us by the World Bank, the IMF and the governments and the institutions in the world that do not have the guts and do not have the backbone to stand up and say that, what they are hearing when people are shouting out their pain, is the result of their policies, the result of their programmes, the result of their projects. It seems to me that this is absolutely and deadly serious. If we have institutions and governments in the world, in Japan, in Europe, in the US and in other parts of the world, if we have governments and their institutions who have enormous research capabilities, who have enormous information gathering capabilities and who know ten times better than us what is really going on even in our own countries, who know the pain, who know the joblessness, who know the homelessness, who know the extent of desease, of AIDS, of prostitution, and who can connect that with the simple fact that people cannot seem to find work to do in their countries, while the wealth of their country is increasing two-, three-, fourhundred times, so, if we cannot find governments, institutions regional, national and international with the guts enough to stand up and say: "This is wrong! Something must be wrong! And because we run the world, we must have something to do with it.", if we cannot find that, then I'm afraid we have to resort to some more drastic measures.
Campaigns in the US over the last ten years or so have attempted through a series of means to draw attention to some of these blatant facts. I am very sorry that our friend Mr. Pooley is not here because it seems to me we probably should have resorted to tie him to his chair so that he would have at least an opportunity to hear what was said this afternoon. And sometimes we in the parts of the Third World that many of us come from had to resort to these kind of more unconventional means of engaging in dialogue on consultation. And it may be that you, our friends here in Europe, may have to take a leaf out of books of people in the Third World which will help you better be able to engage in dialogue with the Pooleys of the world. But I want to share with you very quickly some of the things that are at the core of the campaign in the US. And I think you will begin to see the similarities in terms of your campaign and certainly in terms of the Japanese campaign.
Some of the things that the campaign is calling for include: openness and full accountability of the Bretton Woods institutions and a systematic integration of affected women and men in the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of World Bank and IMF projects. You heard this over the last several hours that people need to be involved, people want to be involved, and people have the capacity to solving and designing programmes that will solve the problems that they better than the people in the banks, better than the people in the European Commission, better than the people at GATT know that is happening to them.
There is a call here for a major re-orientation of the Bank and the Fund to promote more equitable development based on the perspectives, analyses and development priorities of women and men self explanatory.
The third plank of the campaign is to bring about an end to environmentally destructive lending and support for more self reliant, ressource conserving development self explanatory. In other words, these are the fundamentals of a new policy direction which could be the beginning of a dialogue if only we could get people to sit down long enough to engage in that dialogue.
The scaling back of the financing operations' role enhance the power of the Bank and a re-channelling of the financial resources made available into programmes that give more direct development assistance to alternatives. This has to do with the fact that in many, many countries of the South and imaging in your countries of the North that we do have institutions that have over the decades demonstrated the capacity to channel resources. Credit unions and other such institutions that have learned how to work with people directly at the grass roots, but who for some reasons certainly do not get access to the kinds of resources that could be utilised to reduce the dependency of our countries and institutions on organisations like the Bank and the Fund. This is part of the campaign that can become a central feature of the work you yourself are doing here in Europe.
And finally, a reduction in multilateral debt to free up additional capital for sustainable development.
So, the campaign has over the last ten years managed to refine and to tailor all the various concerns that people have about the Bank and the Fund and to bring it down to at least these five substantive policy issues.
The situation in Japan is a little younger. In Japan, as you know, there has not been too much information coming out of that society. But from what we understand there has been the formation there of what is known as the "Bretton Woods Coalition" which is composed of a broad range of community groups, including research institutes, solidarity groups and alike, and they have engaged in a number of actions that some of you might have heard of, and that includes the tribunal of the Group of 7. That was held in Mexico some time in 1993. This was a symbolic exercise focussing public attention in Japan on Japan's role in the international distribution of resources and it began the process of public awareness creation in Japan, and that has continued with the establishment of a programme called "The Peoples Plan for the 21st Century", which is that same broad grouping, broad coalition of Japanese groups now looking ahead to the period that Petrella told us, we will may have 8 billion people on the planet what should be Japan's role in a world of that.
And let me end I have one minute it is unfortunate again that the Pooleys of the world never sit down long enough to face up to the realities of the world, because he was obviously in need of hearing what it is we specifically propose to do, because there is always the tendency to say that all NGOs are a bunch of noise makers, they haven't given any serious thought to this thing, and so they really are just, you know, a bunch of people who don't have a clear idea as to what needs to be done. Well, we certainly do have a clear idea. Let me just give you some examples. We believe for instance that the business of conditionality that the bank imposes as part of its lending can be changed. Why not consider tie-in, if you will increase lending to a country's progress in achieving efficient management of its scarce resources instead of treating the scarce resources as collateral damage, as the inevitable victim of growth and progress, but, in fact, reward the kinds of technologies and movements and procedures that, in fact, enhance the national patrimony in terms of resources? Why not deal with food security, not by the free market, as this gentleman (points to Mr. van Tuyll) has suggested free market responses to food security means that people from the Northern countries are able to produce food cheaper. So, we in the southern countries should not bother about producing food. We should produce coco, bananas, coffee, sugar cane and send that to you at a low price and then use the hard currency to buy cheaper food, because the market has dictated that there is cheaper food produced in the North. This is a lot of, well, the word that is used in the Caribbean I will not use here, but this is a lot of nonsense. You see, because the production of food is not just the act of economic activity, people have ownership over their lands, ownership over their ideas, over their technology, and need to express that ownership not just in terms of dollars but need to insist on their right to be the ones responsible for feeding their families and their own communities. And that you cannot put a dollar value on. And that is part of the new economics.
(applause)

Finally, I will say this: I will say that, if we have one more decade of Structural Adjustment and business as usual there will be so many hungry people, so many diseased people in the North as well as in the South; so much degraded soils in the North as well as in the South; so much pollution of water and air in the North as well as in the South; so much destruction of forest in the North as well as in the South that no matter what we did after that decade, if we let in continue, there would be no way of turning it back. Now then is our time, now, not tomorrow, not next week, not next year, but now is the time to change partners, to change the process, to change the tools that we are using in the process and to change the dreams of those who have failed to have dreams. Now is the time to prescribe and administer a different medicine, a different treatment to our earth and its people who are so urgently in need of intensive care.

Bob Goudzwaard:
I want to introduce another conditionality now...

Atherton Martin:
Have a second! I want to leave you with one simple message: The only chance for change in the North and the South begins and ends with people. Why? It is very simple. If you look at nature she has a lot of lessons to teach us. And one of the lessons that nature teaches us is simply this that nothing grows from the top down, not trees, not people, and certainly not economies.
Thank you very much.
(applause)

Bob Goudzwaard:
Now we will listen to Mr. Marc Lenders from EECCS in Brussels.

Marc Lenders:
I have been asked, as a representative of one of the organisations which has helped in preparing this day's programme to address the participants of the hearing. The organisation for which I work is known as the "European Ecumenical Commission for Church and Society" which, since many years, strives towards a better understanding by their member churches of the main challenges resulting from the European integration process and which sees itself as a place from which a permanent questioning is addressed on behalf of these churches to the Euuropean institutions.
I would like to make two observations:
The first one: The drastic increase of the "pushed aside of the road" not only in the countries of the southern hemisphere, but equally so in the countries which constitute the European Union countries, which had sought to achieve up until today a balance between an economic development and a fair redistribution of income. Or to say this with other words: the globalisation of the economy has its parallel in the globalisation of poverty which is just the other face of the coin.
Are we therefore not forced to review our analyses and our programmes of action where we distinguished between those living "there" in the Third World and us living in the shelter of this part of the world?
A second observation: the political voidness in which this globalisation of the economy and the financial markets occurs. What I mean by "political" is the complex of institutional instruments which a society needs in order to have the capacity to decide and to master its own future. In a society which claims to be democratic our politicians time and again proclaim their attachment to democracy it goes without saying that those institutions have to be controlled by the citizens. Today'sreality is very different: the more important the impact on the people, the less political control there is. This development represents a real risk for the survival of democracy. It is important therefore to imagine new strategies which will have the capacity to oppose these dangerous trends.
With regard to the first observation, I should add that nowadays, the economic and financial powers have, without warning, moved from an international context in which the states were still able to exereise some political control into a world economic and social fabric which is becoming increasingly sensitive to the ebb and flow of monetary tides which obey to their own rationality.
What brings us together today is the fiftieth anniversary of Bretton Woods. Two years from here in 1992 we were commemorating another event which marks the beginning of Europe's conquest that enabled it to capitalize gold and the commodities needed in order to establish its domination over the rest of the world. Europe thereafter entered a period in which the countries of Europe were competing, at many times, fiercely the one against the other and then imposed their harsh rule upon the rest of the world. In those 500 years some of latter have learned to fight back successfully with similar weapons finally lining up. Today, Europe is facing this "boomerang" effect of 500 years of conquest. Delocation and migration are the clear symptoms of the globalisation of the economy.
The speakers today have indicated the need for a programme of action which should take account of the new context and which should be supported both in the North and in the South, in the East as well as in the West, by all those who oppose a sacrificial and suicidal economy but want to restore an economy which serves humankind and respects the integrity of creation.
Such a programme of action should pursue two further objectives: The first, and we shall all agree, is to encourage and promote, starting from local initiatives international networks and help in finding the necessary resources and means to create and maintain alternative and more self-reliant economic models.
The second one, which I like to insist on, is to put our efforts to restore the role and the place of "politics" as I had it defined earlier, in order to create a public debate on the present management of the world by the big financial markets. As citizens of the European Union, we have a special responsibility and should therefore have to monitor carefully the ongoing developments in the European Union.
It has been said that the convergence criteria which the member states have imposed on themselves that is to say on their people in Maastricht and also the establishment of a Central European Bank could result in designing a model which is similar to the IMF. I do not know if this comparison covers all the ground, but regarding one particular point this comparison stands certainly: a European Central Bank as it is envisaged today will function in a context of a "political responsibility". In this respect, the absence at this hearing, to which reference has already been made, of representatives of the Council of Ministers, despite constant efforts by the organisers might not just be the result of unfortunate circumstances.
In the White Paper on "Growth, Competitiveness and Employment" which sets out an action programme for the European Union for the years to come and spell out strategies aiming at combatting unemployment, the present functioning of the international monetary system and the threat this represents for employment has not be faced squarely. The reason which we were given this morning namely that this is due to the existing sharing of competences within the institutions: monetary matters being, until now, of the unique competence of national governments.
Saying this is right formally speaking but has an inbuilt flaw in it; it leaves out the political aspect of the question. The European citizens should be fully aware of this. In reality this institutional dispute covers a more political ongoing battle between those who in the European Union have become the defendants of a reduced European Union towards a free trade zone and those who are denounced by the former as "federalists" who insist that a higher priority should be given to the political dimension of the European integration process. This detour is unavoidable in today's world where a choice has to be made between different economic paradigms.
However we should not fool ourselves. Even if a common monetary policy was existing that would by no means be a guarantee for a reform of the international institutions. Politics will only gain momentum when and if civil society is called to exercise its responsibility. Coming back to the absence of representatives of the political scene at this hearing, one may also ask if this is not the result of a lack of pressure from the side of the public opinion?
Today's dialogue has revealed two different approaches with regard to the role and the place the economy should have in society; two approaches which appear to be incompatible. Footbridges however do exist. Within the European Commission a discussion is going on; we have been witnessing this today. The White Paper, which I mentioned earlier, has a 10th chapter where another development model is presented.
The choice is clear between an economy which can only function at immense human casts and which, moreover, contains the seeds breeding its own destruction through the waste of resources and an economy which aims at serving humankind and safeguards the integrity of creation. The difficulty occurs once we seek to set alternative models of the economy in a political context. Our society can easily live with alternative trends. Up until now, however, those trends which are alive in many places in Europe have not succeeded in reaching a "critical mass" which would allow policies to be implemented which would be more compatible with the model one is aiming at.
Hence, the importance of networks and of cooperation between the networks and the need to act beyond ones own boundaries without falling in the trap of "globalism" which claims to be the only realistic vision of the world today despite the fact that it is mere abstraction where people feel alienated from their cultural and social context.
Today, listening to the different witnesses, a different reality and a realism of another nature has been designed, closer to people and to their environment and for that reason bearer of hopes for the future.
Thank you.
(applause)

Finally, I would like to thank all the organisations which were involved in the preparation of this hearing. Above all I would like to express my grateful appreciation to our chairman and moderator, Prof. Dr. Bob Goudzwaard, who excellently managed to subside the waves of the temporary rough sea. Thank you very much.

Bob Goudzwaard:
This means that our today's session is closed. I thank you all for your participation, your willingness to listen and to contribute, and I wish you a lot of strength on your way to the daily frontier.
(applause)

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