Declaration of the Assembly of Social Movements ESF

26 June 2006 by Assembly of Social Movements

We, women and men from social movements across Europe, came to Athens after years of common experiences, fighting against war, neoliberalism, all forms of imperialism, colonialism, racism, discrimination and exploitation, against all the risks of an ecological catastrophy.

This year has been significant in that a number of social struggles and campaigns have been successful in stopping neoliberal projects suck as the proposed European Constitution Treaty, the EU Ports Directive, and the CPE in France.

Movements of opposition to neoliberalism are growing and are clashing against the power of trans-national corporations, the G8 G8 Group composed of the most powerful countries of the planet: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the USA, with Russia a full member since June 2002. Their heads of state meet annually, usually in June or July. and organizations such as the WTO WTO
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.

, the 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.
and the World Bank 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.

, as well the neo-liberal policies of the states and the European Union.

Important political changes have materialized in Latin Alemica that have shaken the neo-liberal offensive, and in some of them popular mobilizations managed to reverse the privatization process.

The current situation is full of opportunities but also dramatics dangers. Opposition and resistance to the war and occupation of Iraq have exposed the British and US strategy as a failure. The world is facing the nightmare of a new war in Iran. The arbitrary decision of the EU to cut funds to the National Palestinian Authority is unacceptable and exacerbates the whole situation. The oppression of Kurdish people has still not come to an end.

Conservative forces in the north and the south are encouraging a “clash of civilization” aimed at dividing oppressed people, which is in turn producing unacceptable violence, barbarism and additional attacks on the rights and dignity of migrants and minorities.

Although the EU is one of the richest areas of the world, tens of millions of people are living in poverty, either because of mass unemployment or the casualization of labour. The policies of the EU based on the unending extension of competition within and outside Europe constitute an attack on employment, workers and welfare rights, public services, education, the health system and so on. The EU is planning the reduction of workers’ wages and employment benefits as well as the generalization of casualisation.

We reject this neo-liberal Europe and any efforts to re-launch the rejected Constitutional Treaty; we are fighting for another Europe, a feminist, ecological, open Europe, a Europe of peace, social justice, sustainable life, food sovereignty and solidarity, respecting minorities’ right and the self-determination of peoples.

We condemn the witch-hunts and criminalization of alterglobal and other progressive movements in Eastern and Western Europe.

We emerge from the ESF in Athens having made a step towards a better coordination between Eastern and Western movements, with a common determination to fight for peace, jobs, and secure existence. We will promote our agenda of European campaigns and mobilization on the main issues of our common platform developed in the ESF networks.

We need to coordinate our work, to define an effective strategy for the next period, and to strengthen and enlarge our movements.

We call on all the European movements to open a large debate in order to decide all together new common steps during the next months within the framework of the ESF process.

Some very important events are already on the agenda:

- We will mobilize for a complete withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afganistan, against the threat of a new war in Iran, against the occupation of Palestine, for nuclear disarmament, to eliminate military bases in Europe and we call for a week of action from 23 to 30 September 2006.

- We appeal for a international day of action and mobilization the 7th of October 2006 in Europe and Africa, for a European unconditional legalization and equal rights to all migrants; for the closure of all detention centers in Europe, for the stop to externalization, for the stop to deportations; against the precariousness and for the uncoupling of the link between resident permit and the labor contract, for a residence citizenship.

- We will mobilize against the casualization and the dismanting of public services and for the social rights coordinating our struggles in the whole Europe in the next months.

In January 2007, the ESF will meet in Nairobi. The growth of the African social movements is crucial for the world. Building for the WSF will be an opportunity to fight against European exploitation and neo-colonialism.

In June 2007, there will be a meeting of the European Union Council and a meeting of the G8 at Rostock in Germany after the one in St Petersburg in July this year. We will seize the opportunity of these occasions for a general convergence of our struggles.

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