December 12, 2008

Review of the Monterrey Consensus: Civil Society Declaration

Filed under: manifesto,Mwalimu (Vol 1.3/4. - Third & Fourth Quarter 2008) — newritings @ 5:10 pm

(Outcome of the Civil Society Forum – Doha, Qatar on November 25-27, 2008)


We, the members of more than 250 civil society organizations and networks from around the world gathered before the official Review Conference on Financing for Development in Doha, Qatar, 25 – 27 November 2008 under the theme “Investing in people centered development”. We reviewed the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus and discussed pressing new challenges and debated possibilities for innovative financing. The Monterrey conference emerged out of a financial crisis in Asia and Latin America in the 1990s. But it was also guided by a perceived crisis in development: the need to examine the shortfall in resources required for countries to achieve international agreed development goals including Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to cut the number of people living in extreme poverty by half by 2015, improve social conditions such as health and education, employment, raise living standards, support gender equality and women’s empowerment, and protect the environment.

Today 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, in the North and the South, but also the stability of the world’s economies. The Northern governments and financial system are responsible for the current crises, but the costs and the impacts are paid for by the entire world, and by the poorest countries in particular. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization $30 billion are required every year to eradicate poverty. Trade negotiations have reached a stalemate. Persistent gender inequalities reflect and are related to all these structural imbalances in the global economic system; thus it is urgent to include a gender perspective into all policies, at all levels and sectors, as well most Northern countries are falling far short of meeting their aid commitments. Overcoming these crises requires decisive action and leadership from the global community. To date however, such leadership has been sorely missing.

Besides, the dramatic effects of the current crises, in recent years the world has witnessed a substantial and growing transfer of capital from the global South to the North. Conservative estimates indicate that between $500 – 800 billion leaves Southern countries every year through capital flight. The major component of such illicit capital flows is due to tax evasion by multinational corporations operating in Southern countries and is facilitated by tax havens. Moreover, Southern countries continue to send most of their resources to the North in the form of debt servicing and exports. Taking into account all the financial mechanisms, there is a net capital flow of hundreds of billions of dollars per year going from the South to the North. This is a scandalous “reverse welfare” in which the poorest countries are financing the richest.

The swift and massive response of governments of the richest countries to bail out banks and private financial institutions with more than three trillion US dollars of public guarantees and funds stands in stark contrast to their failure to respond decisively to the unabated crisis of poverty, and marginalization that has afflicted the majority of peoples in the world. According to the World Bank, to cut by 2/3 the child mortality in the poorest countries, some 20 – 25 additional billion dollars per year are needed. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that the current crisis will result in the loss of 20 million jobs by the end of 2009; another 100 million people will be pushed into the informal economy on top of the existing 200 million unemployed and 1.3 billion underemployed workers. As every minute a woman is dying because of complications in pregnancy and birth, we call for an increase in funds to fight the persistent high mortality rates. To guarantee basic instruction to all the children in the world, between 10 and 30 billion dollars per year is required. So far the international community has proven incapable of raising such sums, which are in the range of a few percentage points of the enormous capital dished out to save financial institutions. Moreover, twelve years of debt relief initiatives have generated only slightly more than 100 billion dollars in debts cancelled. Working people, particularly, women are being forced to pay the bill for a system founded on the concentration of wealth and economic control in the hands of a few and the continuing and deepening impoverishment of the majority. The commitments made by the G-20 government leaders two weeks ago in Washington to strengthen regulation and oversight will not be sufficient.

We are deeply concerned to see the G-20 process give a central role to failed global financial and trade institutions such as the IMF, World Bank and the WTO. These institutions in the last 30 years have pushed for increased capital flows, market liberalization and eroded national policy space violating national sovereignty. They are among the major institutions responsible for the current situation, have no legitimacy and no credibility to play such a role in the reform of the international financial system, let alone to start a self-reform process. Trade liberalization, of the kind pursued under the Doha Round, has contributed to increased vulnerability of developing countries in key areas. These include unemployment, downward pressure on workers’ conditions and rights, the reduction of access to key public services and the threat to food sovereignty.

We demand global economic structures and policies that put peoples´ rights first, that respect and promote human rights and social and environmental justice, that ensure decent work opportunities which are based on employment opportunities, respect for labor rights, social protection, social dialogue, sustainable livelihoods taking into account the care economy largely dependent on women as well as essential services such as health, education, housing, water and clean energy. People need to have greater control over resources and the decisions that affect their lives.

We observe that instead of engaging in a high level comprehensive debate on financing for development, most countries from the North are reportedly not sending their head of state and the absence of the Heads of the IMF and the World Bank to attend this conference reveals their disregard for an inclusive development discourse.

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