KASAMA Vol. 15 No. 3 / July-August-September 2001 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network
International Solidarity Conference 2001
Philippine Civil Society and International Solidarity Partners:
Strengthening Local & Global Advocacy Initiatives
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 24-26 August 2001
A Contribution to South-South Solidarity & Global Solidarity in the Struggle Against Globalization
The following are extracts from the paper presented to the Conference by LIDY NACPIL, Secretary General of the Freedom from Debt Coalition and International Coordinator of Jubilee South.
Jubilee South is a network and an emerging movement of more than 80 debt campaigns, social movements and people's organizations from more than 40 countries in the South - Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and Asia/Pacific. Jubilee South was formed partly in response to the challenges presented by the Jubilee 2000 campaigns.
The Jubilee 2000 international movement achieved renewed prominence of the debt issue and renewed urgency and vigor of international campaigning on the debt starting in the mid 1990's. The different Jubilee 2000 campaigns mobilized thousands of people in the North calling for the "cancellation of the unpayable debts of the poorest countries of the South". By the late 1990's, however, there was a growing sense of dissatisfaction and unease among many debt campaigns and advocates in the South regarding the international conduct and message of the Jubilee 2000 campaigns.
It was felt that there was a lack of active participation and leadership by the South in the international debt movement. With the exception of some countries, many Jubilee 2000 initiatives in the South were organized by the North and assumed the calls formulated in the North. Spokespersons in the international front were from the North. These observations were made not only as critique but also as self-criticism.
The most important reflection was that the overt as well as the underlying ideas carried by many of the Jubilee 2000 campaigns were not fully reflective of the perspective, position and vision of the South. The major issues were:
However, there is a more fundamental problem to HIPC that is the main basis for calling for its outright rejection. Debt relief through HIPC requires compliance with economic conditionalities. Conditionalities that lead to greater impoverishment and consequently greater indebtedness. Conditionalities that are premised on continued hostage of the Southern economies by Northern creditors. These conditionalities used to be called structural adjustment programs. In 1999, the WB and the IMF renamed these conditionalities as Poverty Reduction Strategy Programs (PRSPs) and sweetened these bitter pills by specifying that national governments should be designing these programs (thus the PRSPs would not be 'imposed' conditionalities) and that the process of designing these programs would include "civil society participation" (therefore making the process 'democratic').
Past experiences have taught us what kind of "participation" takes place in WB/IMF and even elite government processes. It must also be pointed out that no matter how these processes are to be undertaken, as long as countries are indebted and reliant on external infusion of capital, as long as the WB and the IMF are big lenders and have a lot of say about a country's credit worthiness, as long as we have governments run by the elites, the IMF and WB will still exercise tremendous influence on government policies. In fact, many South countries' economic managers do not have to be persuaded to follow the neo-liberal economic paradigm, as they have so internalized this paradigm. Furthermore, in the end PRSPs are still to be approved by the WB and IMF.
Thus, the slogan "NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US" became a challenge to many movements in the South to strengthen the collective voice, presence and leadership of the South in the international debt movement. And to realize this, it was considered imperative to form a South-South alliance.
The challenge presented to the South by the international Jubilee 2000 movement is only half of the motivation.
What is even more important and what remains now to be the most compelling reason for the formation of the South-South Solidarity is the profound realization that now more than ever, in the context of globalization, our struggles are joined in nature and purpose and without solidarity we cannot hope to win victories. We confront not only national structures and adversaries; we confront a global system and global agents of this system. This is also a compelling reason for South-North global solidarity, of course, but we are of the belief that South-North solidarity can only be fully strengthened and fully global if there is a South-South solidarity.
We hope to contribute to ushering in an era when South country agendas do not compete for solidarity from the North, where solidarity is not something that the North gives to the South, but that there is a real globalization of resistance and struggles rooted in strong, vibrant local and national movements in the South and in the North.
Throughout all the Conference Workshops, debt was raised as an issue of related concern. The Conference agreed to focus maximum effort to build North-South partnerships for a global campaign against illegitimate debts.