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Towards a Just International Financial System

 
Christian Churches in Europe are participating in the campaign for democratic control of international financial markets. Below is the outcome of a Planning Meeting in Ebernburg, Germany, May 7-9, 2000.
By Kairos Europa  
  More than 20 representatives of churches, church agencies and non-governmental organisations from the South and the North, invited by Kairos Europa, have defined a common process, with principles and strategies for a three year project on the European churches' participation in making transnational capital socially and ecologically accountable.

Concerns

Financial globalisation is more and more dominating social, political, economic and cultural development worldwide. Financial crises have reversed development efforts of decades in a matter of months, causing unemployment and poverty. Governments all over the world are increasingly dependent on the "judgement of financial markets" and are facing growing public indebtedness, caused to a large extent by deregulated capital flows, by tax flight and tax avoidance. Economic and financial globalisation is aggravating the gap between rich and poor, not only between North and South but also within most countries.

The discussion about a "new international financial architecture" that emerged after the recent financial crises, however, is highly exclusive. The protagonists in the debate are the international financial institutions (in particular the IMF), the leading economic powers (the G7), investors, banks and giant corporations. If there is to be a just international financial system this highly exclusive debate must be opened to those who are most severely affected by financial crises and by the negative effects of economic globalisation.

What we need

We need a global social movement against neo-liberal globalisation and in favour of a just economic and financial system.

We need economic sovereignty of countries and respect of diversity instead of "one size fits all".

We need democratic international institutions. The existing institutions (IMF, World Bank, BIS, WTO, etc.) are acting in favour of the interests of the main economic powers.

People's initiatives on the local, national and regional levels such as: subsistence economy, people-to-people markets, Ghandian economy, etc. must be strengthened.

There is an urgent need for popular education and awareness raising on financial markets.

We need cooperation between churches, non-governmental organisations and social movements in order to resist the destructive threat of "market determinism" and to promote alternatives.

What Churches can do

Churches and people of faith can take up the challenge and get involved in the discussion about a just international financial order. They can build on existing processes against economic injustice and the negative effects of globalisation initiated by WARC (World Alliance of Reformed Churches) and the WCC (World Council of Churches) as well as on the global Jubilee 2000 campaigns. Based on a biblical perspective, this entails prophetic critique, legal reform, resistance and living alternatives. This can include:

getting engaged in favor of the introduction of taxes on speculative capital transfers (Tobin tax),

campaigning for the closing down of tax havens (offshore-centers) and for making capital property socially accountable,

campaigning against the damaging effects of the structural adjustment programmes imposed by the World Bank and the IMF,

supporting the Jubilee South call for the cancellation of third world debt,

struggling for a pension system of solidarity and resisting its privatisation,

getting engaged in favor of fair terms of trade,

struggling for the repayment of stolen assets,

looking critically at the churches' own structures and financial policies,

investing church money in alternative banks.

Guiding Principles for the Process

Solidarity between actors in the South and the North respecting the right to self-determination

Leadership role of the South and joint ownership of the process

Participation and transparency of the entire process.

Ways Forward

1. International Consortium
In response to the call of WCC and WARC a global consortium on the issue of international financial markets shall be established. The members of the consortium should be specialized on financial issues (i.e. debt, speculative flows, tax flight and the role of the IMF). They serve as multipliers of the process in their regions to bring the topic on the agenda of the churches at regional levels. The administration and operational coordination shall be handled by Kairos Europa. To initiate the process, the general secretaries of WCC, WARC and LWF are asked to issue a joint letter.

2. European Conference on Financial Markets In order to place the issue on the agenda of European churches and agencies a European conference shall take place towards the end of 2000. This conference shall aim at:
bringing together the European participants of the planning meeting, representatives of European churches, agencies and Jubilee 2000 campaigners, organisations campaigning on financial markets and representatives of non-governmental organizations as well as representatives from the South,
providing the participants with information about alternatives to the current financial system,
finding strategic entry points for an involvement on the European level.

This conference will be organized by Kairos Europa. Contact: Anja Osterhaus at KAIROSHD@aol.com
 
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