Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith
world leaders meet in Seattle after Thanksgiving for the
"pre-millennial" session of the World Trade Organization, many will
sincerely believe that there is no alternative to the present direction of
globalization. But all over the world, activists and scholars associated with
environmental, religious, labor, and other social movements have in fact been
developing such alternatives.
group of progressive members of Congress, NGOs, trade unionists, and expert
advisors have recently helped draft the Global Sustainable Development
Resolution, incorporating many ideas drawn from this international dialogue.
Resolution assumes that the common people of the world share profound common
interests. It seeks international cooperation to control out-of-control global
corporations, capital, and markets.
Resolution is designed to help unify disparate groups that are deeply concerned
about the impact of globalization on the environment, labor, poverty, democracy,
and human rights by integrating their concerns into a common program. It seeks
to address in an integrated way the economic needs of the worlds’ people and the
need to protect and restore the environment, and the needs of people in both
first and third worlds.
Resolution assumes that global corporations and markets require global
regulation, but that a primary goal of such regulation should be to make it
possible for people in local communities around the world to control their own
economic lives. It tries to integrate the desire for local and national autonomy
and diversity with the need to control global forces and actors.
Resolution lays out a pathway for reconstructing the global economy. It assumes
the program cannot be separated from the process of realizing it. It is designed
to strengthen, not to replace, efforts to change the global economy by action in
Current policy seems to be guided by the theory that the more international
trade and investment is better — whatever the consequences. Under the
resolution, policy goals are defined, instead, in terms of what people really
the threat of financial volatility and meltdown
at every level from the local to the global
rights for all people
advancement of the most oppressed and exploited groups
Dialogue: So far, the global economy has been designed by small elites meeting
closed negotiating sessions and corporate boardrooms. The Resolution proposes a
U.S. Commission on Globalization and parallel Commissions around the world to
develop the broadest possible dialogue the future of the global economy. It also
proposes a Global Economy Truth Commission to investigate abuses in the use of
international funds and abuses of power by international financial institutions.
Sustainable Development Agreement: A series of Bretton Woods-type conferences,
with representation of civil society, will make recommendations for and initiate
negotiation of a Global Sustainable Development Agreement.
Sustainable Development Financial Strategy: These negotiations will formulate a
strategy to counter those aspects of the global financial system that make it
more difficult for communities, regions, and countries to pursue sustainable
development. The purpose of this strategy is to restructure the international
financial system to avoid global recessions, protect the environment, ensure
full employment, reverse the polarization of wealth and poverty, and support the
efforts of polities at all levels to mobilize and coordinate their economic
financial strategy will provide an alternative to the "new financial
architecture" being proposed by the IMF, World Bank, G-7, and U.S.
Treasury. It will:
economic policies based on domestic economic growth and development, not
domestic austerity in the interest of export-led growth.
the major industrial countries to coordinate their economic policies to
stimulate domestic demand and prevent global deflation.
countries adjust currency exchange rates without competitive devaluations.
means for assuring global liquidity, such as an expansion of the system of
Special Drawing Rights.
the flows of destabilizing short-term capital by the adoption of capital
controls as necessary.
standards for and oversee the regulation of banks and non-bank financial
institutions by national and international regulatory authorities.
the shift of financial resources from speculation to sustainable development
that is useful and environmentally positive, such as community development
and targeted investment for small- and medium-sized businesses and farmers.
a tax on foreign currency transactions — known as a "Tobin tax"
— to reduce the volume of destabilizing short-term cross-border financial
flows and to provide pools of funds for investment in long-term
environmentally and socially sustainable development in poor communities and
public international investment funds to meet human and environmental needs
and ensure adequate global demand by channeling funds into sustainable
international institutions to perform functions of monetary regulation that
are currently performed inadequately by national central banks, such as a
system of internationally coordinated minimum reserve requirements on the
consolidated global balance sheets of all financial firms.
of International Financial Institutions: The IMF the World Bank, and other
International Financial Institutions will be required to reorient their programs
from the imposition of austerity and destructive forms of development to support
for labor rights, environmental protection, rising living standards, and
encouragement for small and medium-sized local enterprises. The IMF will
terminate all activities except those fulfilling its original mandate of
addressing short-term external trade imbalances.
Reduction: Under the Resolution, the wealthy countries will write off the debts
of the most impoverished countries by the end of the year 2000. A permanent
insolvency mechanism will be established for adjusting the debts of highly
on Unaccountable Corporate Power: To help establish public control and citizen
sovereignty over global corporations and reduce their ability to evade local,
state, and national law, the Resolution calls for a binding Code of Conduct for
Transnational Corporations which includes regulation of labor, environmental,
investment, and social behavior. In addition, corporations incorporated and/or
operating in the U.S. would be held liable in U.S. courts for harms caused
of International Trade Agreements: WTO, NAFTA, and all other agreements
regulating international trade would be renegotiated to reorient trade and
investment to be means to just and sustainable development.
of the WTO have wisely called for a round of evaluation and reconsideration.
These proposals indicate the kinds of alternatives that ought to be on the table
The full text of the Global Sustainable Development Resolution can be found on
the Internet at www.house.gov/bernie/legislation/imf/global.html. The original
co-sponsors include Reps. Sanders, Brown, McKinney, Kusinich, Evans, DeFasio,