1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Special Events (2000 - 2009)

Reclaiming the Right to Development (Draft)



In 1986, the United Nations adopted a declaration on "The Right To Development" as an inalienable human right, embracing "all civil, economic, social, cultural and other human rights enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights". Since this Declaration was adopted, "globalization" has devalued sovereign equality and stripped states of monetary, fiscals and administrative policy instruments essential to the formulation and implementation of pro-active strategies of economic and social development.

The authority of the United Nations has declined. Private global capital flows have displaced official development assistance as a major source of external finance. Market criteria of profitability (cost-recovery) have prevailed over egalitarian social criteria in the provision of public goods directly affecting the well being of people. International inequalities have escalated. Domestic disparities have widened in most countries Commodity prices continue to fall. Finance has been privileged at the expense of productive activity and countries open to capital flows have born the full economic, social and human costs of adjustment to ever more frequent and damaging financial and economic crises. Primary commodity exporters have always been price-takers. They have always been forced to adjust to business cycles in the industrial centers by pro-cyclical policies. Thanks to twenty years of "structural adjustment", they have also become policy-takers. Development as a national and social project supported by the international community is in suspense- in large regions of the world in regression. A rising tide of outrage at global inequities has attracted the attention of the world. There is a growing sense that "globalization" is a non territorial form of imperialism, imposed on developing countries by legally binding obligations of compliance with rules favouring capital, enforced by trade sanctions and denial of access to finance Additional conditionalities relating to "governance", some at the insistence of influential international NGOs further constrain policy autonomy. Scores of countries have been encouraged - sometimes bullied - into excessive dependence on export earnings and foreign credits by programmes designed by the staffs of the Bretton Woods Institutions The International Monetary Fund has become a foreign policy instrument of the United States. Crises have been used as opportunities to radically restructure economies - most scandalously in the case of South Korea.

Since the end of the cold war, the only remaining super power has acted as self-appointed global policeman. Military interventions targeted at physical and social infrastructure have punished civilian populations for the alleged misdeeds of their leaders. The George W. Bush administration has flaunted an extreme posture of unilateralism, with disregard of the views of even the closest allies. The influence of financial and corporate power at the highest levels of government calls for new initiatives to protect populations and societies of the developing world from exploitation and societal collapse.

There is a crying need for creative thinking and new initiatives to protect the gains of development from devastation by financial hurricanes fed by institutional investors who freely move funds in and out of countries at the tap a keyboard with no responsibility for the impact of their operations on ‘host" countries. The IMF, BIS, G7, G 20 etc., are captive to the overriding interest of protecting the value of global financial investment; regardless of collateral damage to shattered lives and hopes of millions. Consensus of developing countries in international negotiations with the Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO is hostage to policies which pit country against country in competition for export markets and foreign investment.


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