THE COPENHAGEN ALTERNATIVE DECLARATION

A feature of the People-Centered Development Forum

Declaration of Civil Society Organizations Participating in The NGO Forum of the Social Summit

We, representatives of social movements, NGOs and citizens' groups participating in the NGO Forum during the World Summit for Social Development (WSSD), share a common vision of a world which recognizes its essential oneness and interdependence while wholly embracing human diversity in all its racial, ethnic, cultural and religious manifestations, where justice, and equity for all its inhabitants is the first priority in all endeavours and enterprises and in which the principles of democracy and popular participation are universally upheld, so that the long-dreamed creation of a peaceful, cooperative and sustainable civilization can at long be made possible.

In this context, we expected that the Social Summit would address the structural causes of poverty, unemployment and social disintegration, as well as environmental degradation, and would place people at the center of the development process. These include not only economic, political and social causes, but also the cultural structures of gender inequity.

While some progress was achieved in placing critical issues on the table during the Summit negotiation process, we believe that the economic framework adopted in the draft documents is in basic contradiction with the objectives of equitable and sustainable social development. The over-reliance that the documents place on unaccountable "open, free market forces" as a basis for organizing national and international economies aggravates, rather than alleviates, the current global social crises. This false premise threatens the realization of the stated goals of the Social Summit.

The dominant neo-liberal system as a universal model for development has failed. The current debt burden of dozens of countries is unsustainable, as it is draining them of the resources they need to generate economic and social development. Structural adjustment programmes imposed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have consistently undermined economic and social progress by suppressing wages, undermining the contributions and livelihoods of small producers, and placing social services, particularly health care and education, out of reach of the poor. In dismantling basic state services, these programmes have shifted an even greater burden onto women, who care for the nutrition, health, well-being and harmony of the family, as well as community relations. In promoting the rapid exportation of natural resources, deregulating the economy, and pushing increasing numbers of poor people onto marginal lands, adjustment. has contributed to the process of ecological degradation.

This system has also resulted in an even greater concentration of economic, political, technological and institutional power and control over food and other critical resources in the hands of a relatively few transnational corporations and financial institutions. A system that places growth above all other goals, including human well-being, wrecks economies rather than regenerating them, exploiting women's time, labour and sexuality. It creates incentives for capital to externalize social and environmental costs. It generates jobless growth, derogates the rights of workers, and undermines the role of trade unions. In the process, the system places a disproportionate burden on women and jeopardizes their health and well-being and consequently that of those in their care. Finally, it leads to an unequal distribution in the use of resources between and within countries and generates social apartheid, encourages racism, civil strife and war, and undermines the rights of women and indigenous peoples.

It is for these reasons that we also cannot accept the official documents' endorsement of the new trade order as defined in the Final Act of the Uruguay Round and Articles of Agreement on the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The documents do not consider that trade liberalization through the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the WTO creates more losers than winners and that the negative impacts will be disastrous for poor countries, and poor and working people within all countries. The interests of local producers, in particular, are undermined in the areas of foreign investment, biodiversity and intellectual property rights.

We reject the notion of reducing social policy in developing countries to a "social safety net", presented as the 'human face' of structural adjustment policies in the WSSD documents. This proposal is predicated on the withdrawal of the State from one of its fundamental responsibilities. The slashing of social expenditures in the North as a means of reducing the budget deficit has also undermined many of the achievements of the welfare state.

Social development can only be achieved if all human rights--civil, political, social and cultural--of all individuals and peoples are fulfilled. We believe that the Summit documents fail to recognize adequately the primacy of human rights as a prerequisite for a participatory and meaningful social development for all sectors of society, especially for children and such marginalized groups as people with disabilities, indigenous peoples, people in occupied territories, refugees and the displaced. It also fails to note how the undemocratic nature of structural adjustment programmes undermine the rights of citizens and often leads to their repression. In addition, efforts made at the Social Summit to reverse agreements reached in Vienna and Cairo in relation to women's rights represent a further undermining of the possibilities for the kind of fundamental changes required for the creation of just societies.

Finally, we note that militarization creates enormous waste of human, natural and financial resources. It causes further inequality and pauperization, political and social violence, including violations against women, and violent conflict that adds to the rising global death toll and the growing number of refugees and displaced people.

In rejecting the prevailing global economic model, we do not suggest the imposition of another universal model. Rather, it is a question of innovating and devising local answers to community needs, promoting the skills and energy of women in full equality with men, and benefiting from valuable traditions, as well as new technologies-

In the light of the foregoing, we consider that the following conditions must be fulfilled at the household, community, national and international levels to realize this alternative vision of development:

AT THE HOUSEHOLD LEVEL:

  • The new vision of development requires the transformation of gender relations, in which women are equal participants in the decision-making process.
  • Women and men must share responsibility for the care of children, the elderly and people with disabilities.
  • Domestic violence in all its forms must not be tolerated.
  • Women must be guaranteed sexual and reproductive choice and health.
  • Children's rights should be respected and enhanced.

AT THE COMMUNITY LEVEL:

  • The keys to effective development are equity, participation, self-reliance, sustainability and a holistic approach to community life.
  • The capacity of communities to protect their own resource base must be restored.
  • Governmental and intergovernmental decisions must be built upon the full participation of social movements, citizens' organizations and communities at all stages in the development process, paying special attention to the equal participation of women.
  • Communities must gain control over the activities of all enterprises that affect their well-being, including transnational corporations.
  • The political, social and economical empowerment of youth, especially young women, should be fostered.

AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL:

  • All forms of oppression based on gender, race, ethnicity, class, age, disability and religion must be eliminated.
  • Governments must ensure the full and equal participation of civil society in the processes of economic policy-making and other development decision-making, implementation and monitoring.
  • Education must be granted as the main instrument to empower youth to take their rightful place in society, enabling them to take control of their lives. Non-formal education should be promoted, drawing on the experiences and skills of non-specialized people.
  • Governments must ensure the full and equal participation of women in power structures and decision-making at all levels.
  • National accounting systems should be revised to incorporate, women's unpaid work.
  • Governments must commit themselves to developing national strategies and implementation plans in order to fulfill their responsibilities under the Human Rights covenants. They must regularly report on their progress, in particular their efforts regarding marginalized groups' access to legal procedures. Governments which have not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) should do so. Governments should work for the approval of the Draft Declaration on the Universal Rights of indigenous Peoples at the United Nations.
  • Recognition of and respect for ancestral territorial rights of indigenous peoples and their right to self-determination is an imperative in order to ensure their existence as peoples and cultures. Territories that are colonized should likewise be accorded their right to sovereignty and self-determination.
  • Governments must make agrarian reform the basis of sustainable rural economies and ensure access to affordable credit for the poor without discriminating on the basis of gender, race and ethnicity so that people can create their own employment and build their own communities.
  • Governments should develop sustainable employment programmes, in full consultation with trade unions and employers' organizations.
  • Governments of industrialized countries should reduce their countries' disproportionately large claim on available natural resources by implementing the appropriate mix of incentives, ecological tax reforms, regulations, and environmental accounting systems to achieve sustainable production and consumption patterns.
  • Southern governments have the right to protect their people from the effects of deregulated and liberalized trade, especially in areas of food security and domestic production. Moreover, they should be able to regulate the market and take fiscal or legal measures for the purpose of combating inequalities among their peoples. Africa should be given preferential treatment in this respect.
  • Governments should commit themselves to reducing military expenditure so that it does not exceed spending on health care and education and increase the conversion of military resources to peaceful purposes. This "peace dividend" should be distributed equally between a national and a global demilitarization fund for social development. There should be a conversion of the military economy to a civilian economy.

AT THE INTERNATIONAL LEVEL:

  • A new partnership in South-North relations requires placing the cultures, development options and long-term strategies of developing countries and not those of the North.
  • It must be recognized that cultural diversity is the principal source of new strength, new actors new social systems and sustainable development, creating an alternative globalization from below.
  • There should be an immediate cancellation of bilateral, multilateral and commercial debts of developing countries without the imposition of structural adjustment conditionality. In the longer term, the international community should institutionalize equitable terms of trade.
  • Policy-based-lending and the interference of the World Bank and IMF in the internal affairs of sovereign states should be discontinued.
  • The Bretton Woods institutions must be made transparent and accountable to civil society in both the South and North; their policies and programmes should be made people-centered; and participation of social movements and citizens' organizations at all stages in the negotiation of agreements, project implementation and monitoring should be ensured.
  • Global macro-economic policy should address the structure of poverty and stimulate the levels of real purchasing power. An alternative macroeconomic policy will have to meaningfully address the distribution of income and wealth, both between and within countries, leading to a democratization of consumption. This policy would require curbing lavish luxury-goods economies and redirecting resources towards the production of essential consumer goods and social services.
  • Global production and consumption must stay within the limits of the carrying capacity of the earth. Political regulation is mandatory in order to prevent the global market system from continuing to reward irresponsible behaviour that cares nothing for the household, community, nation and humankind.
  • Regulatory institutions and instruments of governance and law that are truly democratic and enforceable must be established to prohibit monopolistic structures and behaviour and to ensure that transnational corporations and financial institutions respect the fundamental rights of all peoples. In order to make this possible, TNCs must be reduced in size. Work to complete the Code of Conduct for TNCs should be urgently resumed.
  • An international independent body and accountability mechanisms should be set up to monitor, evaluate and effectively regulate the behaviour of transnational corporations and their impact on individual nations, communities, peoples and the environment.
  • The international community should enforce the application of a tax on all speculative foreign exchange transactions (Tobin tax) of about 0.5 %, the revenue of which should go into a global social development fund with adequate control mechanisms.
  • Effective international machinery to promote renewable energy should be installed in the UN system.
  • Regional and international organizations should encourage diplomacy, peaceful negotiations and mediation and promote institutions for research and training in non-violent conflict resolution.
  • In the 180 days between the Copenhagen Summit and Beijing Conference, we demand an independent investigation and audit of World Band and IMF performance. In the aftermath of the financial collapse in Mexico, it is essential that the international community prevent future disasters that result from the refusal of the Bretton Woods institutions to depart from the agenda set by the financial and corporate communities, the U.S. government, and Northern financial ministries.

Existing power relations do not permit the realization of these goals. We, representatives of civil society, call upon governments and political leaders to recognize that the existing system has opened the most dangerous chasm in human history between an affluent, overconsuming minority and an impoverished majority of humankind in the South and also, increasingly, in the North. No nation so dramatically divided has ever remained stable; no frontier or force can withstand the despair and resentment that a failed system is now actively generating.

We do not have much time. We are at the point of leaving to our children a world in which we ourselves would not wish to live. But we do find a tremendous inspiration and hope in the fact that the global NGO community taking part in the Social Summit in such a massive way can forge a common understanding of and strategy for the lasting improvement of humankind and nature. With shared responsibility, we can draw from the present crisis the creativity needed to make a world community truly works. This is our common commitment as we leave the Copenhagen Summit.


This declaration was prepared by participants in NGO Forum of the United Nations World Summit for Social Development held in Copenhagen, Denmark, 6-12 March 1995 to reject the neoliberal economic model of economic growth, unregulated markets, and free trade embraced by the official declaration. By the end of the conference more than 620 civil society organizations had signed it. For further information or to sign on contact Cheryl Brown, DGap, 927 Fifteenth Street, NW, 4th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20005, Fax (202) 898-1566 or Internet: dgap@igc.apc.org

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