Political Charter of CADTM International

Version provisionally amended in Liege in September 2019

28 February 2020 by CADTM

Assemblée des mouvements sociaux tenue lors du Forum social mondial 2013 à Tunis le 29 mars

We publish a new version of the CADTM policy charter as provisionally amended at the meeting of the CADTM International Council held in Liège on 11 and 12 September 2019. This amended version provisionally replaces the political charter adopted in Belém, Brazil in January 2009. Indeed, since 2009, the CADTM has taken up themes that were not previously dealt with systematically, such as microcredit, illegitimate private debts and sovereign debt in the North. They are now included. Moreover, with this version of the charter, CADTM reinforces its feminist and ecological commitment. This version of the charter will be subject to further amendments at the CADTM International Council to be held in November 2020 in Dakar (Senegal). It will then be submitted for approval at the next World Assembly of the network to be held in 2021.



CADTM International is a network of some 30 active organizations in over 30 countries across four continents

In 1989, the Bastille Appeal was launched in Paris. It invited popular movements throughout the world to unite in demanding the immediate and unconditional cancellation of the debt of the so-called developing countries. This crushing debt, along with the neo-liberal macro-economic reforms imposed on the South since the debt crisis of 1982, had led to the explosion of inequality, mass poverty, flagrant injustice and the destruction of the environment. It was in response to this appeal, and in order to fight against the overall degradation of living conditions of the majority of peoples, that the CADTM was founded in 1990. Nowadays, CADTM International is a network of some 30 active organizations in over 30 countries across four continents. Focusing on the debt and debt-related issues, the principal aim of its actions and the radical alternatives it proposes is to work towards a world based on sovereignty, solidarity and cooperation between peoples, respect for the environment, equality, social justice and peace.

 Political Charter

1 – In the South

Public debt (external and domestic) involves a massive transfer of wealth from the peoples of the South to the creditors, while the local dominant classes skim off their commission during the transfer. Both in the Northern and Southern hemispheres, debt is a mechanism used to transfer wealth created by workers and small producers to the benefit of capitalists. Debt is used by lenders as an instrument of political and economic domination which establishes a new form of colonialism. Despite their vast natural and human resources, the people of the South are being bled dry. In most countries of the South, the amount spent each year in repayment of public debt comes to more than that spent on education, health, rural development and job creation all together. The debt relief initiatives of recent years have been a mere mockery, as the stringent conditions they come with do more harm than good to the countries which are supposed to be the “beneficiaries”.

2 – The abolition of illegitimate debt demanded from countries of the South

The CADTM’s main objective is the immediate and unconditional cancellation of public debt of countries of the South and the abandonment of <htmlstructural adjustment policies

The CADTM’s main objective is the immediate and unconditional cancellation of public debt of countries of the South and the abandonment of structural adjustment Structural Adjustment Economic policies imposed by the IMF in exchange of new loans or the rescheduling of old loans.

Structural Adjustments policies were enforced in the early 1980 to qualify countries for new loans or for debt rescheduling by the IMF and the World Bank. The requested kind of adjustment aims at ensuring that the country can again service its external debt. Structural adjustment usually combines the following elements : devaluation of the national currency (in order to bring down the prices of exported goods and attract strong currencies), rise in interest rates (in order to attract international capital), reduction of public expenditure (’streamlining’ of public services staff, reduction of budgets devoted to education and the health sector, etc.), massive privatisations, reduction of public subsidies to some companies or products, freezing of salaries (to avoid inflation as a consequence of deflation). These SAPs have not only substantially contributed to higher and higher levels of indebtedness in the affected countries ; they have simultaneously led to higher prices (because of a high VAT rate and of the free market prices) and to a dramatic fall in the income of local populations (as a consequence of rising unemployment and of the dismantling of public services, among other factors).

IMF : http://www.worldbank.org/
policies. In pursuit of this objective, here are some of the aims that CADTM International seeks to promote by its actions:

3 – In the North

In the economies of the most industrialized countries, public debt has risen sharply as a result of the multiple bailouts of large private banks in Europe, North America and Japan. In addition, in the neoliberal political context, enormous tax gifts to a tiny minority including the richest people and large corporations have forced states to borrow heavily in order to balance Balance End of year statement of a company’s assets (what the company possesses) and liabilities (what it owes). In other words, the assets provide information about how the funds collected by the company have been used; and the liabilities, about the origins of those funds. deficits. The neoliberal offensive that shut down central bank Central Bank The establishment which in a given State is in charge of issuing bank notes and controlling the volume of currency and credit. In France, it is the Banque de France which assumes this role under the auspices of the European Central Bank (see ECB) while in the UK it is the Bank of England.

ECB : http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/Pages/home.aspx
funding for governments and public authorities, that as a consequence had to turn to private banks and the financial markets, has increased the cost of financing public debt.

The accumulation of public debt and its repayment act as a powerful mechanism for the transfer of the wealth produced by Labour to Capital, in the North of the planet as in the South.

The public debt serves as a pretext for the pursuit of neoliberal policies that reduce social spending and public investment. This leads both to a deterioration of the living conditions of the overwhelming majority of the population and to a sharp increase in inequalities.

The CADTM is in favour of cancelling illegitimate public debts and considers that governments must take unilateral action to restructure or repudiate their debt in favour of social justice. The participation of citizens in auditing processes is one of the courses of action supported by the CADTM.

Since the early 1970s in the South and the 1980s in the North, ruling classes have succeeded in undermining the workers’ social conquests and their direct and indirect wages. Through a strategy of repeated skirmishes, an ever-increasing part of the value produced by the working population has been clawed back by the ruling classes. Such attacks on progressive and highly civilizing social conquests won over in hard struggles until the 1970s are unfair, immoral and reprehensible. We will strive to cancel those setbacks enforced by Capital in its offensive against Labour. The CADTM will support, and participate in, any social movement, organization and/or trade union that acts to stop and reverse the dismantling of social conquests by ruling classes to restore what was lost and extend basic human and social rights to all spheres of human activities.

4. The system of illegitimate private debts

This debt system is much older than the capitalist system itself which strengthened and refined it. This is the case in the current neoliberal phase, which is forcing more and more households into debt in order to access services such as education, health, housing, energy, etc., that are not or no longer fully provided by the public sector as their social nature would require,.

Private debt has been used for millennia as a mechanism for dispossessing peasants of their land, dispossessing artisans of their means of production. Slavery due to debt bondage was rife throughout the ancient world for centuries.

The system of illegitimate private debts usually involves the imposition of conditions of borrowing that make repayment impossible. This results in dispossession (dispossession of homesteads, land, tools and equipments for work) and/or the obligation to devote long years, or even decades, to repayment.

The extension of precarious contracts and the pervasiveness of subcontracting are some of the measures implemented by large companies to increase their profits at all costs. There is a huge army of workers who are exploited, deprived of rights, who live in precarious conditions and are employed only as long as strictly necessary, outside any stable labour relationship, without decent contract or wages, without paid holidays, without sick pay or the right to strike.

For all of them, borrowing has become a necessity now even in rich Western economies.

The struggles against these illegitimate private debts go back centuries and continue today, for example through:
 • peasant struggles for the cancellation of exorbitant debts in India;
 • the struggles of brick factory workers in Pakistan against new forms of debt-bondage;
 • women’s struggles against extortionate microcredit schemes in Morocco, Sri Lanka, Colombia and Bangladesh;
 • student struggles with the burden of student debt in the United States, Chile, Canada, South Africa, or the United Kingdom;
 • the struggles of households victims of excessive mortgage Mortgage A loan made against property collateral. There are two sorts of mortgages:
1) the most common form where the property that the loan is used to purchase is used as the collateral;
2) a broader use of property to guarantee any loan: it is sufficient that the borrower possesses and engages the property as collateral.
loans and of the financialization of housing resulting in evictions for default in Spain, the United States, Greece, Ireland, etc.

5. In the Global North as in the Global South, we must fight the capitalist system, which destroys Nature

We must fight the capitalist system which for two centuries since the beginning of the industrial revolution, has ejected waste and effluents into the atmosphere that are the cause of global warming and the global ecological crisis.

In the North as in the South of the Planet, it is necessary to defeat a system that preys on Nature, and its resources that It considers to be commodities Commodities The goods exchanged on the commodities market, traditionally raw materials such as metals and fuels, and cereals. to grab, exploit and commercialise in order to create maximum profits.

A capitalist system that compels many countries and their peoples to extract their raw materials and to produce for export markets at the lowest possible price.

A system that continues to emit massive quantities of greenhouse gases almost as fast as it emits promises, usually at international conferences, to stop doing so.

A system that pushes countries and peoples to grow agricultural products that they do not consume and to consume goods they do not produce.

A system that develops nuclear power plants against which we are fighting.

A capitalist system that maintains and reinforces the exploitation and oppression of women.

A capitalist system that goes hand in hand with the debt system.

6- Legitimate public debt should fund a grand ecologist-feminist-socialist transition programme

The public debt should be a financial instrument for a grand ecologist-feminist-socialist transition programme, instead of being used to impose anti-social, extractivist and productivist policies, creating competition among peoples.

The public authorities may resort to borrowing for:

  • financing the complete shutdown of nuclear and thermal power plants;
  • replacing fossil fuels with renewable energies that respect the environment;
  • financing a conversion of today’s agriculture, which contributes significantly to climate change and is a major consumer of chemical inputs responsible for the decline in biodiversity. It is a question of reconstructing agricultural activities in an orientation compatible with reducing and eliminating climate change by promoting in particular local and short supply chains and by producing organic food;
  • drastically reducing road and air transport in favour of public railway transport;
  • financing a vast program of development of a better quality affordable homes for all that consume much less energy and respect the ecological limits of our environment;
  • socialising and developing free essential public services (education, health, culture, etc.)
    Public borrowing is only legitimate if it benefits projects that are themselves legitimate and lenders act in due sincerity.

A popular government will not hesitate to force big companies (national or foreign) and the richest households to contribute to the loan without profiteering from it, that is to say at zero interest rates Interest rates When A lends money to B, B repays the amount lent by A (the capital) as well as a supplementary sum known as interest, so that A has an interest in agreeing to this financial operation. The interest is determined by the interest rate, which may be high or low. To take a very simple example: if A borrows 100 million dollars for 10 years at a fixed interest rate of 5%, the first year he will repay a tenth of the capital initially borrowed (10 million dollars) plus 5% of the capital owed, i.e. 5 million dollars, that is a total of 15 million dollars. In the second year, he will again repay 10% of the capital borrowed, but the 5% now only applies to the remaining 90 million dollars still due, i.e. 4.5 million dollars, or a total of 14.5 million dollars. And so on, until the tenth year when he will repay the last 10 million dollars, plus 5% of that remaining 10 million dollars, i.e. 0.5 million dollars, giving a total of 10.5 million dollars. Over 10 years, the total amount repaid will come to 127.5 million dollars. The repayment of the capital is not usually made in equal instalments. In the initial years, the repayment concerns mainly the interest, and the proportion of capital repaid increases over the years. In this case, if repayments are stopped, the capital still due is higher…

The nominal interest rate is the rate at which the loan is contracted. The real interest rate is the nominal rate reduced by the rate of inflation.
and without compensationfor inflation Inflation The cumulated rise of prices as a whole (e.g. a rise in the price of petroleum, eventually leading to a rise in salaries, then to the rise of other prices, etc.). Inflation implies a fall in the value of money since, as time goes by, larger sums are required to purchase particular items. This is the reason why corporate-driven policies seek to keep inflation down. .

At the same time, a large part of the working class households who have savings would be offered publicly guaranteed savings and investment schemes tied to funding the legitimate projects mentioned above. This voluntary funding by the working class would be remunerated at advantageous interest Interest An amount paid in remuneration of an investment or received by a lender. Interest is calculated on the amount of the capital invested or borrowed, the duration of the operation and the rate that has been set. rates.

This mechanism would be highly legitimate because it would fund socially useful projects, and also would reduce the wealth of the wealthiest while increasing the income of the labouring classes and securing their savings.

7- The cancellation of illegitimate debt is not an end in itself

For the CADTM, the cancellation of illegitimate debt is not an end in itself. It is an essential condition – albeit insufficient – for ensuring the fulfilment of human rights. Thus it is necessary to look beyond the cancellation of public debt for the means to achieve a form of social justice that is environmentally sound. Debt is part of a system that must be combated in its entirety. Together with debt cancellation, other radical alternatives must be brought into play. These include such measures as:

8 – The CADTM supports the self-empowerment of oppressed people

To bring about such changes and to achieve social emancipation, CADTM International believes that it is for the people themselves to rise to the challenge. What they need is not to be freed, but to free themselves. Furthermore, experience has shown that privileged minorities cannot be counted on to take responsibility for people’s well-being. As the Bastille Appeal declared in 1989: “only the solidarity of peoples will bring economic imperialism to an end. This solidarity does not mean in any circumstance that one should support those regimes which worsen the poverty of their countries, which stifle the voices and rights of peoples”. Reinforcing social movements is a priority for the CADTM. Taking an internationalist approach, it is helping to build a broad-based movement which is popular, aware, critical and mobilized. Firm in its belief that the world’s struggles for emancipation must converge, CADTM International supports all organizations and coalitions which work towards equality, social justice, the conservation of nature, and peace. The CADTM cooperates with all structures and movements that fight violence, harassment and all forms of discrimination against women, LGBTQI+ people and all oppressed minorities.

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