Declaration of the Assembly of Social Movements – World Social Forum 2015

Tunisia, 27 March 2015

29 March 2015 by Assembly of Social Movements

People united will never be defeated !

The Assembly of Social Movements of the WSF 2015, Tunisia is where we come together in all our diversity, in order to forge a collective agenda to fight capitalism, imperialism, patriarchy, racism and all forms of discrimination and oppression.

We have forged a common history and a common stream of work which has led to some progress, with the hope achieve a decisive victory against the ruling system and to create alternatives for a socially just development that respects nature.
People all over the world are suffering the effects of the aggravation of a profound crisis of capitalism, in which private transnational corporations, banks, media conglomerates and international financial institutions are trying to increase their profits by applying interventionist and neocolonial policies with the complicity of neo-liberal governments.

War, military occupations, free-trade neoliberal treaties (Trans-Atlantic, Trans-Pacific, DCFTA, UE-MERCOSUR, EPA, MERCOSUR-Israel and different bilateral treaties) and “austerity measures” are expressed in economic packages that privatize the common good and public services, cut wages, violate rights, increase unemployment and precarious conditions, overload women´s care work, and destroy nature.
Such neo-liberal policies have massive impacts both on the Southern and the Northern countries and contribute to an increase in migration, forced displacement, evictions, debt, and social inequalities. They re-enforce conservatism and the control over women´s bodies and lives. In addition, they impose “green economy” as a solution to the environmental and food crisis, which not only exacerbates the problem, but leads to commodification, privatization and financialization of life and nature.

We claim that the peoples are in no way responsible for this crisis and they must not continue to pay for it. We also claim that no solution is possible within the capitalist system. Here, in Tunis, we reaffirm our commitment to join forces to forge a common strategy to guide our struggles against capitalism. This is why we, social movements, fight :
Against transnational corporations and the financial system (IMF IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.
, WB World Bank
The World Bank was founded as part of the new international monetary system set up at Bretton Woods in 1944. Its capital is provided by member states’ contributions and loans on the international money markets. It financed public and private projects in Third World and East European countries.

It consists of several closely associated institutions, among which :

1. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, 189 members in 2017), which provides loans in productive sectors such as farming or energy ;

2. The International Development Association (IDA, 159 members in 1997), which provides less advanced countries with long-term loans (35-40 years) at very low interest (1%) ;

3. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), which provides both loan and equity finance for business ventures in developing countries.

As Third World Debt gets worse, the World Bank (along with the IMF) tends to adopt a macro-economic perspective. For instance, it enforces adjustment policies that are intended to balance heavily indebted countries’ payments. The World Bank advises those countries that have to undergo the IMF’s therapy on such matters as how to reduce budget deficits, round up savings, enduce foreign investors to settle within their borders, or free prices and exchange rates.

World Trade Organisation
The WTO, founded on 1st January 1995, replaced the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT). The main innovation is that the WTO enjoys the status of an international organization. Its role is to ensure that no member States adopt any kind of protectionism whatsoever, in order to accelerate the liberalization global trading and to facilitate the strategies of the multinationals. It has an international court (the Dispute Settlement Body) which judges any alleged violations of its founding text drawn up in Marrakesh.

, who are the main agents of the capitalist system, privatizing life, public services and common goods Common goods In economics, common goods are characterized by being collectively owned, as opposed to either privately or publicly owned. In philosophy, the term denotes what is shared by the members of one community, whether a town or indeed all humanity, from a juridical, political or moral standpoint. such as water, air, land, seeds and mineral resources, promoting wars and violating human rights, and ransacking resources. Transnational corporations reproduce extractionist practices endangering life, grab our lands and develop genetically modified seeds and food, taking away the peoples’ right to food and destroying biodiversity.

We fight for the cancellation of illegitimate and odious debt Odious Debt According to the doctrine, for a debt to be odious it must meet two conditions:
1) It must have been contracted against the interests of the Nation, or against the interests of the People, or against the interests of the State.
2) Creditors cannot prove they they were unaware of how the borrowed money would be used.

We must underline that according to the doctrine of odious debt, the nature of the borrowing regime or government does not signify, since what matters is what the debt is used for. If a democratic government gets into debt against the interests of its population, the contracted debt can be called odious if it also meets the second condition. Consequently, contrary to a misleading version of the doctrine, odious debt is not only about dictatorial regimes.

(See Éric Toussaint, The Doctrine of Odious Debt : from Alexander Sack to the CADTM).

The father of the odious debt doctrine, Alexander Nahum Sack, clearly says that odious debts can be contracted by any regular government. Sack considers that a debt that is regularly incurred by a regular government can be branded as odious if the two above-mentioned conditions are met.
He adds, “once these two points are established, the burden of proof that the funds were used for the general or special needs of the State and were not of an odious character, would be upon the creditors.”

Sack defines a regular government as follows: “By a regular government is to be understood the supreme power that effectively exists within the limits of a given territory. Whether that government be monarchical (absolute or limited) or republican; whether it functions by “the grace of God” or “the will of the people”; whether it express “the will of the people” or not, of all the people or only of some; whether it be legally established or not, etc., none of that is relevant to the problem we are concerned with.”

So clearly for Sack, all regular governments, whether despotic or democratic, in one guise or another, can incur odious debts.
 which today is a global instrument of domination, repression and economic and financial strangulation of people. We reject free trade agreements that are imposed by States and transnational corporations and we affirm that it is possible to build another kind of globalization, made by and for the people, based on solidarity and on freedom of movement for all human beings.

We support the call for an international day of action on 18 April, 2015 against the free trade agreements.
For climate justice and food sovereignty, because we know that global climate change is the result of the capitalist system of production, distribution and consumption. Transnational corporations, international financial institutions and governments serving them do not want to reduce greenhouse gases. We denounce “green economy” and refuse fake solutions to the climate crisis such as bio-fuels, genetically modified organisms Genetically Modified Organisms
Living organisms (plant or animal) which have undergone genetic manipulation in order to modify their characteristics, usually to make them resistant to a herbicide or pesticide. In 2000, GMOs were planted over more than 40 million hectares, three quarters of that being soybeans and maize. The main countries involved in this production are the USA, Argentina and Canada. Genetically modified plants are usually produced intensively for cattle fodder for the rich countries. Their existence raises three problems.

- The health problem. Apart from the presence of new genes whose effects are not always known, resistance to a herbicide implies that the producer will be increasing use of the herbicide. GMO products (especially American soybeans) end up gorged with herbicide whose effects on human health are unknown. Furthermore, to incorporate a new gene, it is associated with an antibiotic-resistant gene. Healthy cells are heavily exposed to the herbicide and the whole is cultivated in a solution with this antibiotic so that only the modified cells are conserved.

- The legal problem. GMOs are only being developed on the initiative of big agro-business transnationals like Monsanto, who are after the royalties on related patents. They thrust aggressively forward, forcing their way through legislation that is inadequate to deal with these new issues. Farmers then become dependent on these firms. States protect themselves as best they can, but often go along with the firms, and are completely at a loss when seed thought not to have been tampered with is found to contain GMOs. Thus, genetically modified rape seed was destroyed in the north of France in May 2000 (Advanta Seeds). Genetically modified maize on 2600 ha in the southern French department of Lot et Garonne was not destroyed in June 2000 (Golden Harvest). Taco Bell corn biscuits were withdrawn from distribution in the USA in October 2000 (Aventis). Furthermore, when the European Parliament voted on the recommendation of 12/4/2000, an amendment outlining the producers’ responsibilities was rejected.

- The food problem. GMOs are not needed in the North where there is already a problem of over-production and where a more wholesome, environmentally friendly agriculture needs to be promoted. They are also useless to the South, which cannot afford such expensive seed and the pesticides that go with it, and where it could completely disrupt traditional production. It is clear, as is borne out by the FAO, that hunger in the world is not due to insufficient production.

For more information see Grain’s website :
and mechanisms of the carbon market like REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), which ensnare impoverished peoples with false promises of progress while privatizing and commodifying the forests and territories where these peoples have been living for thousands of years.
We defend food sovereignty and support sustainable peasant agriculture which is the true solution to the food and climate crises and which also entails access to land for all who work on it.

We call for a mass mobilization on climate in December 2015 in Paris alongside the COP21. Let’s make 2015 the year of mobilizing social movements around the world for climate justice.
Against violence against women, often used as a military weapon in occupied territories, but also violence affecting women who are criminalized for taking part in social struggles. We fight against domestic and sexual violence perpetrated on women because they are considered objects or goods, because the sovereignty of their bodies and minds is not acknowledged. We fight against the traffic of women, girls and boys.

We defend sexual diversity, the right to gender self-determination and we oppose all homophobia and sexist violence.

We call upon all people to support the activities of the 4th World March of Women during March-October 2015.
For peace and against war, colonialism, occupations and the militarization of our lands.

We denounce the false discourse of human rights defense and fight against fundamentalism, which is often used to justify military occupations. We defend the right to people’s sovereignty and self-determination. We denounce the installation of foreign military bases to instigate conflicts, to control and ransack natural resources, and to foster dictatorships in several countries.

We demand reparations for all the peoples who have been victims of colonialism across the world.
For democratic mass media and alternative media, which are fundamental to overthrow the capitalist logic.
For resistance and solidarity, we fight for our freedom to organize trade unions, social movements, associations and all other forms of peaceful resistance.

We denounce the intensification of repressive measures against people´s rebellions; the arrests, assassinations and imprisonments of activists, students and journalists; and also the criminalization of our struggles.

Inspired by the history of our struggles and by the rejuvenating strength of the people on the streets, the Assembly of Social Movements call upon everyone to mobilize and develop actions - coordinated at the world level – in a global week of mobilization against capitalism from 17 to 25 October, 2015

Social movements of the world, let us advance towards a global unity to shatter the capitalist system!
Let’s strengthen our solidarity with the people of the world who fight everyday against imperialism, colonialism, exploitation, patriarchy, racism and injustice in places such as Tunisia, Palestine, Kurdistan, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Greece, Spain, Burkina Faso, Mali, Congo (DRC), Central Africa, and Western Sahara... 

Long live the people’s struggle !

People united will never be defeated !

Translated by Suchandra De SARKAR (CADTM) and Christine Pagnoulle

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