Friday, 28th November
From the Civil Society Forum to the International Conference on Financing for Development
The Forum ended with a declaration giving civil society’s points of view and demands on the 6 Monterrey pillars, stressing that “the world is consumed by an urgent series of crises: energy, food, climate and finance that not only threaten the realization of the MDGs and the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people, but also the stability of the world’s economies. The northern governments and financial system are responsible for the present crises, but the costs and impacts are paid by the entire world and by the poorest countries in particular”. More than 1 billion people are directly struck by the current crises. Not even 2% of the sums that the rich countries have decided to use to save their financial institutions would be needed to finance the MDGs and give everyone a chance of a human life. This is just a matter of political will.
Here are some of the demands that came out of the Forum:
• Developing countries should be allowed to take effective democratic ownership and leadership of their domestic policy space, without interference from northern countries or the Bretton Woods institutions.
• Fair and progressive taxation systems should be established that are redistributive, gender sensitive, accords tax relief for low wage workers and the poor.
• Countries should ratify the UN anti corruption convention and establish an effective system of monitoring its implementation.
• The committee of experts on international cooperation in tax matters should be upgraded to become an intergovernmental body.
• Governments should agree to binding timetables to reach the UN target of 0,7% of GNI of ODA by 2015 at the latest.
• Recognising the global challenges to meet the greenhouse gas emission cuts, countries should commit the additional non-debt creating funds to address climate change.
• Measures should be adopted which promise to generate significant levels of additional funding for environmental and development initiatives including further work on currency transaction and financial tax initiatives.
• Debt cancellation of southern countries must be extended and de-linked from lender conditionality. Structures should be established for addressing the debt crisis in a transparent and accountable manner. Issues related to odious and illegitimate debt have to be addressed.
• In the context of the current financial crisis and its impacts on development, measures such as closing tax havens, ending shadow banking system, stronger regulation of private equity funds and hedge funds and a ban on speculative financial products including over the counter derivatives should be urgently implemented.
• In 2009, the UN should organise a “major international conference at Summit level to comprehensively review the international financial economic governance structures” and include the active participation of civil society.
The declaration was presented at a press conference today afternoon in the presence of the President of the General Assembly of the UN, Father Miguel d’Escoto. Fr d’Escoto is a Maryknoll priest, from Nicaragua, involved in politics of his country for many years where he has been involvements Minister of Foreign Affairs. He was elected for a year term at the beginning of the last General Assembly. He gave us big thanks for our contribution which he said relates very much to his own preoccupations. He spoke of the present moral crisis “we have all been contaminated by the present perverse logics of the predominant culture: the profit at the centre instead of the human being… We must bring the human being back to the heart of economy and development”.
There are representatives from almost all 192 member countries of the UN, but only around 40 heads of state in Doha. Nicolas Sarkozy‘s presence as president of the EU is appreciated, but the fact he his the only one from among the G20 stresses all the more the little importance given by the rich nations to the poor ones through the UN and to financing for development. Other heads of state are the presidents of Sudan, Zimbabwe, Congo, Iran… which gives the Conference a certain atmosphere!
I was interviewed by Al Jazeera on the reasons why such an organisation as Caritas is present and what are our expectations.
In the evening, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and the Emir of Qatar organised a “retreat” called “informal high level discussion on the implications of the financial crisis for development, climate change and multilateralism” to act as a bridge from the G20 Washington meeting to the Doha Conference. A kind of starter to put the Conference at the right level of expectation to face the global crisis.
Saturday, 29th November
There we are: the Conference is launched with a lot of hope!
To go beyond the stalemate which was reached as no agreement was found when the negotiators left New York to come to Doha, the President of the General Assembly of the UN, Fr Miguel d’Escoto, decided to propose a new text which should be more acceptable to all and prevent the Conference from being a failure. This would have had dire consequences for the Financing for Development process which is already shaken by the financial and global crises.
Of course, such a text will look weak, and it is by certain measures, but not the worst it could have been. It is particularly weak on tax, debt and aid.
It is important nevertheless to stress that the UN is mentioned as the convenor of next year’s summit on global financial reform and we hope the conference will hold on to it. Also important is that the General Assembly is presented as the relevant body to convene intergovernmental negotiations for finalising the modalities for follow-up of the Doha Conference.
Apparently, the EU said they could live with the document as it is now. And G77 (bringing together more than 130 very diverse countries with major differences of opinion, but all wanting to have a say) feels that, although some key paragraphs on debt and tax are still too weak to be acceptable, paragraphs on systemic issues and on follow-up mechanisms at least mention the minimum that they would be able to live with. We don’t know yet about the US position but things should go forward towards commonly agreed steps.
I (and NGOS here present as a whole) see this text as being weaker than the Monterrey Consensus. Here are some important points (as they presently appear) that we are pushing forward.
Chapter 1: Mobilising domestic financial resources for development
We emphasize the need to address the systemic injustice of South to North resource flows including illicit capital flows. We propose a fully mandated intergovernmental and adequately resourced and funded upgraded UN Tax Committee to address some of these challenges.
Chapter 4: Increasing financial and technical cooperation for development (chapter on aid)
We also welcome the declaration by the G8 leaders in Hokkaido, Japan that they will fulfil their commitments made at Gleneagles (the increase of their ODA by US$50bn to $130bn by 2010) but this is not reflected by the mention of the increase of ODA to Africa by $25bn a year by 2010.
We underline that the financial crisis must not lead to developed countries reneging on aid promises. Donor countries have to agree to have in place binding national timetables, by the end of 2010, to increase aid levels toward achieving the established ODA targets. This has been reaffirmed in one of the today’s side-events on “effective financing for development” chaired by the OECD secretary general.
Chapter 5: External debt
“More efforts are needed through international debt resolution mechanisms to guarantee equivalent treatment of all creditors just treatment of creditors and debtors, legal predictability/ have a juridical framework. These mechanisms should take into account the legitimacy of existing claims, based on how the loans were given.” There is here important wording on the legitimacy of debts.
“We acknowledge the need to address all relevant issues regarding external debt problems, including through the United Nations and considering new ad hoc forums with technical support from the Bretton Woods institutions to explore, inter alia, sovereign debt work-out mechanisms, improving the transparency of existing frameworks and the possibility of crafting permanent debt mediation or arbitration procedures.”
Chapter 6: Addressing systemic issues
“In light of this review and recent events, we stress the need to convene a major international conference, under the United Nations auspices…” This is discussed as another summit that not everybody would like to happen. But we agree that the present crisis and its consequences make a global reform of the international system necessary, and that this has to be done in an inclusive way.
Pdt Fr Miguel d’Escoto told the Conference that he has set up a group of experts around Joseph Stiglitz to reflect on the situation and propose a reform of the United Nations.
Conclusion: on the follow up
A new intergovernmental structure is requested in the text to complement the FFD office, with a clear process to go forward.
All our job now remains to promote our views, and for me the CI ones, with the delegates.
President Nicolas Sarkozy, as acting president of the European Union, has made the trip to Doha, thus recognising the importance of both UN and financing for development especially in this period of crisis. This has been largely appreciated, as well as the importance he gave to renewed international governance making Africa and other continents real participants in the various international organisations. He said that the G8 is finished, as it has to be inclusive of more nations from all over the world. The problem is that bringing RSA and the AU on board for instance does not mean that all nations will be really represented.
It remains co-opting when it should be a democratic representation. Actually continuing to weaken the UN. We were expecting strong words on tax havens and the struggle against illicit financial flows, but that did not come.
Apart from the Plenary where all governments speak to give their opinion on the draft outcome declaration, round tables and side events allow speakers to give their view on related issues. It is an amazing blooming of ideas, usually very expert and constructive. Even if they do not integrate the declaration, they contribute to going ahead on all major issues. At the side event on “Effective financing for development” organised by the OECD, we heard among others Trevor Manuel, Finance minister of the Republic of South Africa, present his experience on mobilising taxes and Eckhard Deutscher of the DAC of OECD on the predictability of aid.
Sunday, 30 November
A hard day of negotiations
Negotiations were stranded today after the US tried to reopen several paragraphs in the negotiations this morning. The President of the General Assembly decided to adjourn the negotiations, so country groupings could discuss in the afternoon what were the very few issues that they absolutely needed to be seen in the text (or didn’t want to see changed). The Secretariat then went back to try to incorporate some of the amendments on the text. Negotiations with all were due to resume at 9pm, but they were postponed to Monday morning, and instead a limited group of 60 went to work the whole night, through in a small room with no chairs. We will soon know whether the GA Presidency managed to streamline the list of objections to a few issues, or whether the US keeps on trying to reopen several paragraphs – which then will seriously threaten the possibility of having an outcome document.
Meanwhile, at 8pm, EU ministers met at the Four Seasons Hotel to discuss the European position with regards to their key issues, and what issues they were willing to compromise on. The Europeans won’t compromise on paragraph 60 on climate change and on aid – they do not want the language to be weakened. On the other hand, they want changes on paragraph 22 on trade (no mention to major reforms in the trade system) and on 58 on systemic issues (no summit, but only high level dialogue) and 65 on the follow-up mechanisms (no creation of new institutional mechanisms).
As the US is pushing strongly to reopen numerous paragraphs, and even threatening to abandon the negotiations, Civil Society Organisations decided to draft a brief letter addressed to the EU ministers urging them to stand strongly for the outcome document, even if we still have strong reservations on a number of issues, and not give up to the US pressure.
A symbolic action was undertaken in the afternoon in the press room: a vote on the US position or the G191 position.
With the CIDSE colleagues, we met the Apostolic Delegate to the UN, Archbishop Migliore. We shared our views on the Holy See document and devised some lobbying steps to forward on major issues.
And as everyday at 7:00 pm, we met the French/EU team to discuss the day and our respective positions. Our priority now is to try to keep the draft document as it is. For the sake of the expectations of the billions of people living in poverty around the world.
Touching down in Doha
Aujourd’hui 26 novembre se sont retrouvés à Doha, la capitale du Qatar, plus de 300 militants représentants d’organisations non gouvernementales, de syndicats et de réseaux internationaux. Un programme de deux jours pour faire le point sur les négociations entre les gouvernements qui vont se retrouver ici le 29 novembre et préparer notre participation à la conférence internationale sur le financement du développement. Militants de tous continents unis pour porter la parole et les attentes des plus pauvres quant à leur avenir parmi lesquels des membres des réseaux catholiques ou protestants de développement (dont CIDSE) et des représentants de congrégations religieuses comme les carmélites et le réseau Vivat international.
La conférence a été organisée par l’ONU pour faire un état des lieux 6 ans après celle de Monterrey qui avait défini 6 axes pour le financement des Objectifs du Millénaire pour le Développement : la mobilisation des ressources nationales, l’aide publique au développement, la contribution du secteur privé, l’annulation de la dette, des règles commerciales justes, et la réforme du système international.
6 ans après, le constat partagé ici est que peu a été fait pour atteindre les objectifs que Monterrey s’était fixés. Le suivi des engagements pris s’est tenu dans le cadre de réunions de dialogue de haut niveau tous les 2 ans, s’appuyant sur un secrétariat démuni en ressources. Les crises qui se sont accumulées cette année, au-delà des dérèglements environnementaux, crises alimentaire et financière, questionnent l’ordre économique international, bousculent l’agenda de Doha et rendent encore plus urgent la mobilisation pour donner à chacun et à tous les moyens de se développer. Les attentes à l’égard des dirigeants de la planète qui viennent se retrouver ici sont d’autant plus élevées.
Le Forum de la société civile a voulu, dans ce contexte, mettre l’accent sur les objectifs du développement : il ne s’agit pas tant de mobiliser des moyens que d’« investir dans un développement centré sur le peuple ». Ce Forum a été organisé avec le concours des autorités qataries qui étaient présentes à la séance d’ouverture.
Nous avons commencé par travailler sur l’approfondissement et la priorisation des recommandations que les uns et les autres ont élaborées ces derniers mois sur la base du projet de déclaration élaboré par le bureau FdD des Nations Unies dans le cadre d’ateliers travaillant sur chacun des 6 piliers de Monterrey, et disponible depuis la fin du mois de juillet.
J’ai participé à l’atelier sur la mobilisation des ressources nationales. Ont été débattues les questions de l’espace politique nécessaire aussi bien au niveau des états que des communautés pour définir leurs politiques de développement ; les politiques macroéconomiques et la prise en considération de l’économie réelle, largement informelle ; les impôts et taxes ; les flux illicites de capitaux qui représentent des sommes considérables qui peuvent financer les OMD plusieurs fois et la nécessité de mettre au point des outils de contrôle ; la prise en compte du genre, en soi et à travers l’ensemble du texte. Puis ont été définies en plénière des priorités et une stratégie pour les ultimes démarches de lobbying des jours qui viennent.
Une déclaration de la société civile est en préparation, reprenant l’ensemble des préoccupations majeures portées ici.