The Global Sustainable Development Resolution

Brendan Smith

For the

past decade, through both Republican and Democratic administrations, the United States

government has promoted a model of free-market global capitalism that it claimed would

benefit the great majority of people both at home and abroad. This model has failed.


and over the mantra has been repeated that "there is no alternative" to this

deregulated global capitalism. But, from

debates the over NAFTA, Fast Track, WTO, MAI, and the IMF, and from scholars and activists

around the world, progressive alternatives have been emerging. Their aim is to build a new

global economy that benefits poor and working people and the environment around the world,

rather than despoiling the planet and its people to enrich a wealthy elite.

A group

of progressive legislators, NGOs, trade unionists, and expert advisors have recently

helped draft the Global Sustainable Development Resolution, incorporating many ideas drawn

from this international dialogue. The

resolution lays out a path for reconstructing the global economy based on labor and human

rights, protection of the environment, and new initiatives to encourage socially and

environmentally sound national and local development.

Goals:  Under the resolution, policy goals of the United

States include:

  • reducing the threat of financial

    volatility and meltdown

  • democracy at every level from the local to

    the global

  • human rights for all people

  • environmental sustainability worldwide

  • economic advancement of the most oppressed

    and exploited groups


Major recommendations of the

Resolution include:                     


National Dialogue:  The U.S. shall

establish a Commission on Globalization to develop the broadest possible dialogue by the

people of the United States on the future of the global economy.


Global Dialogue:  The U.S. shall initiate

the establishment of a United Nations Commission on the Global Economy to initiate a

process of global dialogue on the future of the global economy.  It will also create 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



Sustainable Development Financial Strategy:  Through

such negotiations, the United States will develop and implement 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 resources.


The 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:

  • encourage economic policies based on domestic

    economic growth and development, not domestic austerity in the interest of export-led


  • encourage the major industrial countries to

    coordinate their economic policies to stimulate domestic demand and prevent global


  • help countries adjust currency exchange rates

    without competitive devaluations.

  • develop means for assuring global liquidity,

    such as an expansion of the system of Special Drawing Rights. 

  • reduce the flows of destabilizing short-term

    capital by the adoption of capital controls as necessary.


  • establish standards for and oversee the

    regulation of banks and non-bank financial institutions by national and international

    regulatory authorities.

  • encourage 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.

  • establish 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 countries.

  • create public international investment funds to

    meet human and environmental needs and ensure adequate global demand by channeling funds

    into sustainable long-term investment.

  • develop 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.

Reform 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:  The United States shall work

with others to write off the debts of the most impoverished countries by the end of the

year 2000.  The U.S. will work with other

nations to establish a permanent insolvency mechanism for adjusting the debts of highly

indebted nations.

Checks 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 United States shall enter into

negotiations to establish 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. shall be held liable in U.S. courts for harms caused abroad.

Reform of

International Trade Agreements:  WTO,

NAFTA, and all other agreements regulating international trade will be renegotiated to

reorient trade and investment to be means to just and sustainable development.


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