Ideas for alternatives[1]

Eric Toussaint



This contribution puts forward suggestions and alternative avenues for debate. They do not make up an all-inclusive programme, nor should they be seen as proposals to accept or reject en bloc. At best, they are a collection of necessary-but-insufficient conditions for charting the path forward. The starting-point for this debate has to be the fulfilment of basic human rights. The question we have tried to address may be summarised thus: how does one move from an economy of indebtedness towards financing sustainable[2] and socially just development?


 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services. (…) Everyone has the right to education, to work and to social security " (see Articles 22-26).


The International Pact for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ratified by the majority of UN member states, stipulates that " States have a right and a duty to draw up appropriate national development policies to constantly improve the welfare of the population as a whole and of every individual, on the basis of their free, active and meaningful participation in development and the fair distribution of the profits thereof." (Art. 2, cited by C. Jochnick, 2001, p. 100).


The UN Committee for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights interprets the obligations of the Pact as follows: "A member State in which a large number of individuals are deprived of basic foods, primary healthcare, decent clothing and housing or elementary education, is not fulfilling its obligations as laid down by this Pact."


Despite this, and the fact that total world wealth has increased eight-fold since 1960, at the present time one in two human beings lives on less than two dollars a day, one in three has no access to electricity, one in four lives on less than a dollar a day, one in five has no access to clean drinking water, one in six is illiterate and one in seven adults and one in three children suffer from malnutrition.


Several specialised United Nations institutions[3] co-wrote a document estimating that 80 billion dollars ( USD) a year for ten years would be enough to guarantee to every human being living on this planet access to basic education, basic health care, adequate food, drinking water and sanitation, and for women, gynaecological and obstetric care[4].


80 billion dollars represented in 2003 about four times less than the sum repaid on its external debt by the Third World; it's about a fifth of the US Defence budget; 9% of world military expenditure; 8% of what is spent annually on publicity world-wide; half the cumulated wealth of the four richest people on the planet[5], 0.3% of the combined wealth of the richest one thousandth of the global population[6].


Present day misery could be transformed with such wealth...


The laws of the market and profit cannot be expected to satisfy essential needs. The 1.3 billion people deprived of clean drinking water and the 2 billion without access to medicines or healthcare[7] have too little purchasing power to interest the markets. There is not enough profit to be made[8].


 Only resolute public policies can ever guarantee the fulfilment of basic human needs for all[9]. This is why the public authorities must have at their disposal the political and financial means of honouring their obligations towards their citizens.

 The latter must also be able to exercise fully their right to play a central role in the political life of the State. To bring that about, efficient judiciary mechanisms and economic policies must be implemented in a dynamic of participative democracy. The example of a participative budget as practised in Porto Alegre since the early 90s should be adopted on a world-wide scale and inspire original policies of radical democracy.

The application of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Pact for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has to be backed up by a powerful social and citizens' movement. This can only be an authentic revolutionary project, no more, no less.

Firstly, the haemorrhage of wealth represented by debt repayments has to be stemmed. Next, different sources of funding must be found for socially just and ecologically sustainable development. Finally, we must break away from the old logic that leads to the cycle of indebtedness, to embezzlement and large-scale pillage of local wealth, and to dependence on the financial markets and condition-laden loans of the international financial institutions.


1. Breaking the infernal cycle of debt


The champions of neo-liberal globalisation tell us that the Developing Countries (in which they include Eastern Europe) must repay their external debt if they wish to benefit from constant flows of funding.

In fact, ever since the debt crisis in 1982, the flows have been going from the Periphery to the Centre, and not the other way as the leaders of the international financial institutions would have us believe. In order to estimate real flows, as it transpired in chapter 9, the following factors have to be taken into account: repayment of the external debt; capital outflow due to residents of Periphery countries; the repatriation of profits by multinational firms (including invisible transfers, especially via such procedures as "over-" or "under-" billing on invoices); the acquisition of privatised businesses in the Periphery at knock-down prices, by capitalists of the highly industrialised countries; the purchase at low prices of raw materials produced by the populations of the Periphery (degradation of the terms of exchange); the "brain drain"; genetic pillage; pillage of natural resources and destruction of the eco-system… The donors are not the ones we are led to believe. It is a gross error of language to consider the OECD countries, members of the Committee for Development Aid and the Bretton Woods institutions as "donors".

In the last two decades, there has been a massive net transfer of wealth from the Periphery to the Centre. The added mechanism of debt repayment has become a powerful support to those previously in operation (unfair trading, exploitation of natural and human resources, the brain drain, repatriation of profits to the parent company, etc.) Since 1982, the populations of the Periphery countries have sent their creditors the equivalent of several times the Marshall Plan -see chapter 9, box 9.1.- (with the local capitalist elite skimming off their commission on the way).


It has become urgent to adopt the opposite view from that of official discourse: the Third World's external public debt must be cancelled. Close scrutiny reveals that the Third World debt is slight compared to the historic social and ecological debt owed it by the rich Northern countries. In 2002, the Third World debt (former Eastern bloc countries included) came to about 2400 billion dollars (of which about 1600 billion is public debt), merely a small percentage of the world debt which comes to more than 60,000 billion dollars. (The total sum of public and private debt for the USA alone comes to 30,000 billion dollars).


If the Global South's external public debt were to be entirely cancelled without indemnifying the creditors, it would be a paltry loss of barely 5% in their portfolios. On the other hand, to the populations liberated at last from the burden of debt, those sums, which could be used to improve health and education, create jobs, etc., would mean a lot. Indeed, the repayment of the Global South's external public debt represents, on average, expenditure of about 190-220 billion dollars a year, that is about 2-3 times the amount required to satisfy basic human needs as defined by the United Nations.


Some claim that debt cancellation leads to permanent exclusion from access to international capital. No serious study of the history of debt crises underlies this claim.

Between the end of the 18th Century - when the United States of America cancelled their debt towards the British Crown - and the end of the 20th Century - with the cancellation of part of Poland's debt in 1991 (one of the rare examples where the creditors made a spontaneous effort, obviously strategic interests were at stake) - numerous measures of debt-cancellation have been taken. For example, Mexico stopped repaying its debt between 1914 and 1946 (Marichal, 1989, pp.224-228); the Bolshevik government declared unilateral cancellation of the debts of the Tsarist empire. In no case did disaster ensue, as predicted by the creditors. On the other hand, there is no shortage of examples of countries that have become weakened and impoverished through debt-repayment. Argentina is a case in hand.


Since the end of the 1990s, flows related to international loans have become negative. Indebted countries taken as a whole repay more each year than they receive in the form of loans (whether bank loans, bonds, bilateral loans or World Bank loans). Every year since 1999, the loans granted by commercial banks have been less than the repayments they have received. The same has been true of bilateral loans since 1996. The flows have been negative for the issue of debt paper since 2000. For World Bank loans, ODA included, flows have been negative since 2000[10].


Furthermore, the threat of exclusion from access to private external capital means little to most Third World countries, which have had hardly any access to that capital for years. The UNDP states that "only 25 Developing Countries have access to private markets for bonds, commercial bank vestments" (UNDP, 1999, p31). Note that the UNDP includes the East European states in the 25 countries mentioned and that the total number of Developing Countries, as they define them, is 180.

According to the United Nations, in 1999 the 48 Least Developed Countries (LDCs), with their nearly 600 million inhabitants, received only 0.5% of Direct Foreign Investments (DFI) destined for Developing Countries (DCs). Indeed, the DCs' share of DFI has been in constant decline over the last three years - while the rich countries get 80% of these flows.

       For the handful of Third World countries with access to international capital (4 countries - China, Brazil, Mexico and Thailand - received more than 50% of DFI flow in 1998), 80% of Foreign Investment input is accounted for by the acquisition of pre-existing businesses taken over by multinationals of the most industrialised countries. This does not result in job-creation, quite the opposite.

       Furthermore, these acquisitions imply a loss of national control over the productive infrastructure. Not to mention the highly volatile and speculative nature of the other capital flows (which is one of the lessons of the financial crises of the 90s).

       Restricting this type of flow would do no harm to the economies of these countries. We propose replacing these unproductive, even damaging, flows by alternative sources of funding (see the second part of this text), so as to significantly reduce dependence on financial markets and the Bretton Woods institutions.




 The Judicial Basis for Debt Cancellation


Debt-cancellation is all the more legitimate that it can be justified by several legal arguments, including the notions of "odious debt", "force majeure" and "state of need".


Odious Debt


State debts contracted against the interests of local populations are judged unlawful. According to Alexander Sack, who theorised this doctrine, "If a despotic power contracts a debt not in accordance with the needs and interests of the State, but to strengthen the despotic regime, to repress the population who are combating it, this debt is odious for the population of the State as a whole. This debt is not an obligation for the nation: it is debt of a regime, the personal debt of the authorities which contracted it; consequently, when the regime falls, the debt becomes null and void." (Sack, 1927).

       Thus, debts contracted against the interests of the population of the indebted territory are "odious" and, in the case of a change of regime, the new authorities are not held to repay them.

       The notion dates back to the end of the 19th Century.[11] One of its applications was in 1898, when the United States gained control of Cuba after a war with Spain[12]. The latter demanded that the victor take on the Cuban debt towards the Spanish Crown, in accordance with international law. The United States' Negotiating Commission refused to do so on the grounds that the debt was "a burden imposed upon the Cuban people without their consent".

The Commission argued that "the debt was incurred by the Government of Spain for its own interests and by its own agents. Cuba had no say in the matter." The Commission added that "the creditors accepted the risk of their investments". The dispute was resolved by an international treaty between the USA and Spain signed in Paris in 1898. The debt was completely cancelled.


Later, in 1923, an international Court of Arbitration in which Judge Taft, President of the United States Supreme Court, took part, declared that loans made to President Tinoco of Costa Rica by a British bank established in Canada were null and void since they had not served the country's interests but the personal interest of a non-democratic government. On this occasion, Judge Taft declared that "The case of the Royal Bank rests not simply upon the form of the transaction, but upon the bank's good faith at the time of the loan for the effective use of the Costa Rican government under Tinoco's regime. The Bank must prove that the money was lent to the government for legitimate purposes. It has not done so." (Judge Taft, quoted in Adams, 1991, p.168).

       The legal regimes (recognised lawful governments) which followed the dictatorships of South America in the 80s (Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, etc.) should have drawn upon international law to have their odious debts cancelled. They did not. For the very good reason that the dictatorships had benefited from the active support of the USA (when it was not the USA that had helped get them into power) and the main lenders were none other than US banks.

Other countries, too, had a perfect right to demand the cancellation of their debts. To give just a few more flagrant examples: the same happened in the Philippines after the overthrow of the dictator, Marcos, in 1986; in Rwanda in 1994 after the genocide perpetrated by its dictatorial regime[13]; in the Republic of South Africa as it emerged from Apartheid (1994); in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1997 when Mobutu was overthrown; in Indonesia in 1998 when Suharto left power, etc.

Instead of turning to national and international law, those newly in power prefer to negotiate with the creditors to spread out the repayments or make cosmetic reductions. Once they are sucked into the interminable cycle of external debt, it is their populations who bear the cost.

This system of creating dependency has to be brought to an end. Full support must be given to the social and citizens' movements in Developing Countries that call on their governments to repudiate the external public debt and stop repayments.


Citizens' movements in favour of debt cancellation have regularly invoked the doctrine of "odious debt", but post-dictatorship regimes and of course, the lenders, have turned a deaf ear.  The issue was taken up by the US government in April 2003. In circumstances not unlike the precedent of the war between Spain and the USA in 1898, the USA has asked Russia, France and Germany to cancel the odious debts owed by Iraq. Taking word for word the definition of odious debt as quoted above, the debts contracted by the dictator Saddam Hussein were declared null and void. The USA, along with their British, Australian, Dutch and Danish allies, attacked Iraq in violation of the UN Charter of March 2003. They then occupied it with over 100,000 soldiers, and were preparing to establish a protectorate, de facto or legally, over the country.  They would have liked to persuade some of the main creditors, especially the three powers that opposed the war (France, Russia and Germany), to renounce what was owing to them.


The objective of the USA was, and still is, to get its hands on Iraq's oil revenues generally, and particularly to use it to pay the costs of the military intervention and ensuing destruction, of reconstruction and of the current occupation. They want to prevent the oil revenues from being used to repay debts to the powers that did not support military intervention. The USA used the argument of odious debt purely as an opportunistic ploy. Their idea was for Iraq to be relieved of old debts in order to guarantee the repayment of the newly incurred ones, to the new main creditors especially the USA, down to the last cent. This has been analysed in Chapter 16. Nevertheless, the USA has shown the world that the doctrine of odious debt is not a thing of the past.  The Iraqi people are entitled to completely recover their freedom (which means the departure of the foreign occupying forces) and to see the debts contracted by Saddam Hussein wiped out. Furthermore, they are entitled to reparations on the part of their aggressors.  Other populations bearing the burden of odious debts have every right to demand their cancellation.


Citizens' surveys (audits) to investigate the legitimacy of debts their country is expected to repay are a fundamental tool. Parliaments and governments of indebted countries could carry out debt audits. Some countries have clauses in their constitutions that expressly provide for this. (Brazil's 1988 constitution; the 1999 constitution of the Bolivarian republic of Venezuela). Powerful mobilisations of citizens in various countries have clamoured for auditing procedures to be started.  A case in hand was Brazil in September 2000, when the Jubilee South Campaign, the National Conference of Bishops, the Landless Movement and the CUT (the Portuguese acronym for Brazil's United Confederation of Workers) organised a referendum on the debt. Six million citizens took part and more than 95 % of those voted in favour of organising an audit. Numerous Brazilian social movements asked the new president Lula, who came into power in January 2003, to organise the audit as provided for in the Brazilian constitution of 1988.

The powerful Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) put pressure on the new Ecuadorian president Lucio Guttierez to do an audit. President Chavez of Venezuela announced a similar initiative.


A great deal hangs on doing audits to determine whether or not all or part of a country's debt is odious. The table below gives a provisional and non-exhaustive list of the debts of a few countries. The amounts involved in odious debts are considerable. The table is provisional as only a precise and rigorous audit (carried out with the citizen's participation) can properly determine the size of the odious debt to be declared null and void.  The table nevertheless gives food for thought and action.


Table 19.1.



Dictatorial Regime

Period of


Odious Debt (in

bns of  dollars)

Debt Stock

In 2001







Saddam Hussein





Military junta





Military junta




South Korea

Military regime










Military regime









South Africa
















Hassan II















Ben Ali








































Military junta





Military regime










Siad Barre




















Khmers Rouges















Military regime










Military junta










Idi Amin Dada




Central Africa





        Table by Damien Millet and the author on the basis of preliminary work by Joseph Hanlon (2002).


The amounts given as odious debt (column 4) are in most cases lower than the real figures, as they only concern the period of the dictatorships stricto sensu.. They do not include debts contracted to repay the odious debts. The point of an audit would be to determine the precise amount of debt that can be rightly considered odious. The list of eligible countries also needs to be completed.


Several additions are required to the doctrine of odious debt as formulated by Alexander Sack last century. The Center for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL) at McGill University (Canada) has propose a general definition which seems quite appropriate: “ Odious debts are those contracted against the interests of the population of a State, without its consent and with the full knowledge of the lenders" (Khalfan et al., “ Advancing the Odious Debt Doctrine ”, 2002, cited in Global Economic Justice Report, Toronto, July 2003).

So the issue of odious debt should on no account be abandoned, even if creditors of every kind like to consider it closed. Indebted States have not finished repaying odious debts. They can still make a decision grounded in law to repudiate these debts. New debts contracted in the 1990s and early 2000s by legitimate regimes to repay odious debts contracted by the despotic regimes that went before, should also fall into the category of odious debt. This is the opinion of various experts such as those at the CISDL mentioned above as well as Joseph Hanlon (Great Britain), Hugo Ruiz Diaz (Paraguay – Belgium) and Patricio Pazmino (Ecuador)[14]


The definition proposed by the CISDL implies that private creditors who have lent (or lend) money to regimes (legitimate or not) or to companies guaranteed by the State for projects that have not been decided through democratic consultation or are detrimental to the society, risk seeing their loans cancelled. All the more so in cases where the creditor has also actively or passively colluded with embezzlement. A great number of projects, old and new, come under this category. The great Three Gorges Dam project in China is a case in hand. Once the notion of odious debt is well-established, creditors will be forced to make clear their responsibilities and commitments and to respect democratic, social and environmental rules. If they do not, they may find themselves having to give up all hope of recovering the money they lent.


The doctrine of odious debt also needs to be extended to cover debts contracted with the Bretton Woods Institutions (the IMF, the World Bank and the regional development banks).

Why? The IMF and the World Bank (multilateral lenders) hold about 450 billion dollars of credits on indebted countries[15] and a large part of those debts fall into the 'odious' category. 

There follow several examples of cases where the doctrine of odious debt should be applied, in line with the CISDL's definition.

1)        Multilateral debts contracted by despotic regimes (all the dictatorships mentioned earlier were supported by the IMF and the World Bank) must be considered odious. The IMF and the World Bank have no right to demand their repayment from the democratic regimes that replace dictatorships (*).

2)        Multilateral debts contracted by legal and legitimate regimes to repay debts contracted by the despotic regimes are themselves odious. They must not be repaid. This is the case for about thirty countries mentioned in the (non-exhaustive) table above (*).

3)        Multilateral debts contracted by legal and legitimate regimes within the framework of structural adjustment policies detrimental to populations are also odious. (The detrimental nature of these policies has been amply demonstrated by numerous writers and international organisations – especially branches of the UN, see below). For twenty years the IMF and the World Bank have continued to define and impose, come hell or high water, conditionalities that turned out to have catastrophic consequences for basic human rights. This amounts to dolus malus[16], defrauding the borrowers and their populations. The loan contract concerned is null and void. The letters of intent that the governments of indebted countries are obliged to send to the IMF and the World Bank (who dictate their contents) are an artifice invented by these institutions to cover themselves in the eventuality of legal proceedings against them. The procedure is nothing but an artifice and therefore has no legal value[17]. Just as an individual does not have the RIGHT to agree to be reduced to slavery (the contract whereby he or she renounces their liberty has strictly no legal value), a government has no right to renounce the exercise of its country's sovereignty.  In so far as it cancels a State's exercise of its sovereignty, such a letter is null and void.   The Bretton Woods institutions cannot use this letter of intent to escape responsibility. They remain fully responsible for the wrongs done to populations through the application of the conditionalities they impose (structural adjustment, which has now been renamed Poverty Reduction Strategy - PRS - for the HIPC or Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility - PRGF - for the rest).

4)        The antidemocratic, despotic nature of the Bretton Woods institutions themselves also needs to be recognised. The required majority is 85%, giving the USA a veto as they hold about 17% of the votes. There is a clear imbalance in the distribution of voting rights. 

5)        At the same time as actions are brought to cancel multilateral loans, the Bretton Woods institutions must also be forced to make reparations to the populations who have suffered the human and environmental damage caused by their policies(*).

6)        Lastly, civil and criminal actions must be brought against the officials of those institutions, who should be held responsible for the violations of basic human rights they have perpetrated and still perpetrate by imposing structural adjustment and/or by lending support to despotic regimes (*).


All points marked with an asterisk (*) apply equally to bilateral debts and bilateral creditors. To illustrate point no. 6, in the future a democratic Togo freed of the dictator Eyadema could bring a court action against France in The Hague (or even the International Criminal Court) for its active support of the dictatorship. Furthermore, in strict application of the doctrine of odious debt, a democratic, post-Eyadema Togo would no longer owe the debts contracted under the dictatorship.


"Force majeure"

Another means provided by the law of supporting debt cancellation and stopping repayments is to use the argument of "force majeure[18] and that of a fundamental change of circumstances. The UN International Law Commission defines “ force majeure ” as follows: "The impossibility to act legally  (…) is the situation that arises when unforeseen circumstances beyond the control of the person or persons concerned absolutely prevent them from respecting their international obligation, by virtue of the principle that one cannot do the impossible" [19].


This principle of international law acknowledges that a change in the conditions of a contract may render it invalid[20]. This means that contracts requiring the fulfilment of a succession of future commitments are subject to the condition that the circumstances should remain unchanged. (In Common Law, there are several doctrines based on a similar principle, including "force majeure" (circumstances beyond one's control), "frustration", impossibility" and "non-feasibility".)


"Force majeure" and a fundamental change of circumstances quite clearly apply to the debt crisis of the 80s. Indeed, the fundamental causes of the debt crisis from 1982 on were two exogenous factors: the dramatic rise in interest rates imposed world-wide by the United States government from the end of 1979, and the drop in export prices for the Periphery countries from 1980 on. Both these factors were instigated by the creditor countries. They are cases of "force majeure" which fundamentally modify the situation and prevent the debtors from fulfilling their obligations[21].


The State of Necessity


To justify a refusal to pay in law, as well as the arguments mentioned above, the argument of a state of necessity can also be used. A state of necessity can be invoked when it would cause unreasonable sacrifice and hardship to the populations concerned, to continue making repayments, thus directly affecting the State's fundamental obligations towards its citizens. Regarding this point, the UN International Law Commission (ILC) declares,


“A State cannot be expected to close its schools, universities and law courts and to do away with public services, plunging the community into chaos and anarchy simply to be able to use the money to repay its national or foreign creditors.

There are limits to what can reasonably be expected from a State as there are for an individual… ” (ILC, 1980, p. 164-167, cited by Hugo Ruiz Diaz, op. cit.)


It is time to break away from old habits of dependency and subjugation. It is time to support the social and citizens' movements in the countries of the Periphery who are calling upon their governments to repudiate the external public debt and stop paying it.



2. Extra resources to finance development


 For debt cancellation to serve the purpose of human development, obviously the money previously ear-marked for debt repayment needs to be used to fulfil basic human rights. This means that a democratically determined portion should be paid into a development fund, under the direct and active control of the local population. The emphasis must be on citizens taking part in deciding on priorities and working out projects to meet these priorities; and in overseeing how financial and human resources are spent…

However once this first step of debt cancellation has been taken, the present economy based on international indebtedness must be replaced by a model which is both socially just and ecologically sustainable, and independent of the fluctuations of the money markets and of the loan conditionalities imposed by the World Bank and the IMF.

This development fund, already supplied with money saved through debt cancellation[22], must also be financed by the following measures:


2.1.1. Restitution of stolen property to the citizens of the Global South: the considerable wealth illicitly accumulated by the ruling authorities and local capitalists has been deposited securely in the most industrialised countries with the active collusion of private financial institutions and the tacit agreement of the Northern governments (the practice continues to this day).

Take, for example, Argentina under the military junta (1976-1983): this country's debt was increased six-fold. A large part of the money borrowed was deposited by members of the regime in banks in the USA, Great Britain and other industrialised countries (see chapter 16). Financial and industrial firms in the industrialised countries as well as members of successive Argentine governments thus became rich through illegal means. The Argentine judiciary established the facts in the course of a trial that took place in July 2000[23]. The collusion of the IMF and the New York Federal Reserve was proven. On the basis of the judgement passed, which should set a legal precedent, the populations thus robbed should be able to get compensation.

Imagine, for example, what it would mean to the population of Argentina to recover the money deposited by the military junta (1976-1983) in the most industrialised countries, imagine what the return of a large part of the late President Mobutu's fortune (equivalent to ten times the Democratic Republic of Congo's annual national budget) would mean to the Congolese people, or to the population of Nigeria if they could recover the fortune of the dictator Abacha, safely invested in Switzerland and in Great Britain with the collusion of the major banks.  Remember, too, the colossal fortune deposited mainly in the same two financial centres by Russian oligarchs in the 1990s and early 2000s.

To operate such restitution implies the completion of legal proceedings in the Third World countries and the most industrialised countries.  The example of the retrocession to the Philippine government, in 2003, of part of the fortune of the dictator Marcos (658 million dollars) by the Swiss authorities proves that it can very well be done[24]. Such investigations would require full international co-operation and the ratification of the Convention of Rome of March 1991 that deems the misappropriation of public property to be a human rights violation.

       Among other things, they would serve to ensure that people guilty of corruption do not get off scot-free. This is the only hope, if democracy and transparency are one day to triumph over corruption.


2.1.2. Further action would be to support the resolutions made at the international meeting held in Dakar in December 2000[25] (From Resistance to Alternatives) demanding compensation for the pillage which the peoples of the Periphery have been subject to over the last five centuries. This includes the restitution of economic and cultural property stolen from the Asian, African and South American continents and from the Amerindian, Caribbean and Oceanic peoples.

Ever more numerous and more active movements are stating the case for reparations. Under pressure from African social movements and associations of both North and South America, the subject was officially placed on the agenda of the United Nations conference against racism in Durban in August 2001. The US government withdrew from the conference and the European Union manoeuvred to limit the effect of the final resolution.  Its delegate was not prepared to go further than recognising the Slave Trade as a crime against humanity. He wanted to avoid anything that might open the way to demands for reparation. Although it already has a long history, the battle over this issue is only now beginning. It is a battle that must be won, for moral as well as economic reasons.

The environmental debt, contracted mainly by the multinational corporations of the highly industrialised countries, the governments of the North and the World Bank[26], is also an integral part of the demand for reparations. Remember the damage caused, and the pillage, by oil, mining and agro-business multinationals. 



2.2 Nationalisation/socialisation of the domestic assets of dictatorial regimes


       Debt cancellation sets the clock back to zero. The expropriation of ill-gotten gains - dictators' (and their entourage's) holdings abroad - would provide the ideal basis for a development fund. To this fund should be added the wealth accumulated by these predatory regimes within their own borders. A proper register of these holdings must be established. The regime's physical wealth (not just financial) should also be placed at the disposal of the development fund. This fund is essential for undertaking constructive projects aimed at satisfying the real needs of the population, and for setting up a host of social and environmental programmes.


2.3 Making fraudulent capitalists pay their fair share

Holders of capital from the South have large sums of money in foreign accounts. They have enriched themselves on the backs of their people, through out-and-out theft and/or through organised capital flight. A proper register of domestic and foreign-held wealth must be established. This means that officials in each country, under the pressure of the social movements, must take legal steps to demand that banking secrecy be lifted at both national and international levels.


       These same officials must determine how much wealth is involved and who controls it. One way of doing this would be to send commissions of enquiry to private foreign banks. With this information in hand, governments can establish what tax penalty should be imposed to ensure that state coffers receive all taxes due.


       Since those with assets abroad also hold domestic assets, their domestic wealth can be frozen as long as the tax penalty is not paid. If the penalty is never paid, a part of the person's domestic assets can be confiscated and transferred into the public domain.


2.4 Monetary reform by redistribution 

A redistribution of wealth can also be achieved by means of appropriate monetary reforms. Without going into too much detail, one model is the kind of monetary reform carried out after the Second World War by the Belgian government or, on the other side of the planet and in more recent times, by the Nicaraguan government in 1985. The idea is to tap into the wealth of those who got rich at the expense of others. The principle is straightforward: at the time of a change of legal tender, automatic parity between the old money and the new is only guaranteed up to a certain limit. Beyond this ceiling, any remaining monies must be placed in a blocked account, and its origin justified and authenticated. As a general rule, the remainder above the fixed limit will be exchanged at a less favourable rate (e.g. two old francs for one new). In cases where it is clear that the money has criminal origins, it can be seized[27]. Such monetary reform enables part of the wealth to be distributed in a socially fairer manner.  Another objective of the reform is to reduce the total amount of money in circulation, diminishing inflationary tendencies. For the reform to succeed, capital movements and exchanges need to have been subjected to strict controls.


2.5. On the international level, set up global taxation


2.5.1. Tax financial transactions

Initially proposed by the 1972 Nobel prize-winner for Economics, James Tobin, this idea was taken up by other economists, then by the international network, ATTAC (Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions for Aid to Citizens). Such a tax would liberate considerable sums of money for development.

UNCTAD (United Nations Conference for Trade and Development) calculates that 1000 billion dollars a day taxed at 1% would produce 720 billion dollars a year. As a working hypothesis, they propose splitting it in two: $360 billion for a social and ecological fund in the countries where the transactions took place, and $360 billion for a redistribution fund for the countries of the South (for health, education, etc.). The two funds would be managed by mixed boards of directors representing civil society and governments. As for ATTAC's international platform, it suggests a tax of 0.1% bringing in some 100 billion dollars annually, which could be used to combat inequality, and to provide public health and education services, food security and sustainable development. Obviously, it is impossible to calculate exactly how much such a tax would raise, since it depends on the rate of the tax and the volume of financial flows[28]. ATTAC, with the support of other movements (including the CADTM), considers that the EU (or the Euro Zone within it) is large enough to apply a Tobin-type tax without waiting for an international consensus. 


Furthermore, in view of the globalisation of markets which has been taking place since Tobin's initial proposal (and especially the development of derivative products bridging all the gaps between markets), it would seem necessary to tax all financial transactions (shares, bonds, hard currency and derivatives), so that operators cannot dodge this solidarity tax by turning to other markets. Centralised computerisation of clearing operations, through clearing houses such as the SWIFT for the exchange market and Clearstream and Euroclear for international transferable securities transactions, makes the application of such a tax perfectly feasible, since all international financial transactions are traceable and carried out only in these places.


2.5.2. Taxes on DFI, on the profits of multinational corporations (MNCs) and other global taxes…


The movement ATTAC also proposes to tax Direct Foreign Investments (DFI). ATTAC France sees this as fluctuating between a rate of 20% and 10%, according to a classification worked out by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), based on the degree to which workers' basic rights are respected, with a specific scale for different categories of countries. ATTAC also proposes a tax on MNC profits. The idea is that the Tobin-type tax, the DFI taxes and those on MNC profits should all be pooled in a global fund for the guarantee of human rights and the protection of the environment (which is in line with the proposal made in this chapter). 


On the matter of global taxes, apart from the wealth tax suggested in 2.7, certain movements are also discussing the idea of a tax on the kerosene used by airline companies.  Aviation kerosene is the only fossil fuel that is not taxed. Its combustion damages the environment and contributes to exhausting non-renewable sources of energy. Considering that the ill effects are global, it is logical to think in terms of a global tax, that airline companies would have to pay into a global fund for the guarantee human rights and the protection of the environment. The idea of taxing CO2 emissions (with ill effects as global as those of kerosene) is also under discussion.



2.6. Raise Official Development Aid to at least 0.7% of the GDP and completely change the thinking behind it. Instead of ODA, let's talk about Reparation Funds


       The present level of Official Development Aid (ODA) does not balance out the negative effect of debt repayment (see details in Chapter 9).

       First, it should be pointed out that a significant part of ODA is made up of loans to be repaid. Next, in 2002, the grand total of ODA did not exceed 57 billion dollars, i.e. about six times less than the amount repaid by the Third World in external debt servicing.

In 2002, ODA represented a mere 0.23% of the Gross Domestic Product of the most industrialised countries, despite their commitment, frequently reiterated within the framework of the UN, to reach the objective of 0.7%. In fact, ODA fell by over 30% between 1992 and 2002, in scandalous contradiction of promises made in Rio (1992) by the Heads of State of the industrialised countries.

       Taking the present average of 0.23%, ODA must be multiplied threefold to fulfil the commitments made. Considering that ODA represents a little under 50 billion dollars, if it is multiplied by three, it should reach 150 billion dollars a year which should be entirely paid out as donations (as compensation, and no longer, as is too often the case, in the form of loans).

Finally, rather than speak of aid, henceforth it would be more appropriate to use the term reparation, the idea being to make reparation for all the damage caused by centuries of pillage and unfair trade. Part of the sum of 150 billion dollars of donations should be paid into a global fund guaranteeing human rights and the protection of the environment managed by the DCs (within the framework of the UN) and part into National Development Funds run by the populations concerned and their representatives.


2.7. Levy an exceptional tax on the estate of the very wealthy

In its 1995 report, UNCTAD suggests levying a single, exceptional tax on the estate of the very wealthy. Such a tax levied throughout the world would mobilise considerable funds. This exceptional tax (different from recurrent property taxes such as exist in several countries round the planet) could also be levied at national level without having to wait for a global decision. UNCTAD does not suggest a particular rate nor a particular target among the large fortunes.

It is time to take the plunge. For an exceptional solidarity tax like this, once in a lifetime, of say 10% of the fortune of the wealthiest tenth of the population in each country, could generate very considerable internal resources.

In most countries, tax-payers pay tax at both national and federal levels, and also local taxes, at municipal or regional level. All it means is that extra rich tax-payers will be subject to the same type of rules, extended to the entire planet. On top of their national taxes, they will have to pay once an exceptional world tax on their fortune, levied where their fortune is, and paid into a global fund for the guarantee human rights and the protection of the environment.  


The concentration of wealth in the hands of a tiny minority has reached a point never previously known in the history of humankind. This is the case in all the countries on the planet, with just a few exceptions that can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The accumulated wealth comes to such absurd amounts as to be an insult to the human conscience and to the peoples of the world.  As mentioned in the introduction to this chapter, the 2003 edition of the World Wealth Report, produced by the wealth management consultants Cap Gemini Ernst and Young and the investment bank, Merrill Lynch, in 2002 there were about 7.3 million millionaires in dollars (i.e. about one thousandth of the world's population) with about 27,300 billion dollars between them (not including their principal place of residence). 


An exceptional global tax of 20 % on the fortunes of the richest thousandth of the planet would bring in roughly 5,5 00 billion dollars (27,300 divided by 5 = 5,475 billion dollars) which would go into the global fund for the guarantee human rights and the protection of the environment, already permanently financed by a Tobin-type tax and other global taxes. Part would be spent in the form of donations, another part would be lent at low interest rates or none at all, so that the fund would be permanently re-supplied.  

Many questions remain. What rate to apply? A single rate? Of how much? Or a progressive rate? What percentage of the Fund's resources would be distributed as donations? What percentage as loans? At what rate of interest? On what terms? What percentage of the Fund would go towards global projects? … towards continental projects? A reforestation fund? A fund for complete denuclearisation? What priorities, what projects? Who decides? The UN General Assembly preceded by national referenda? Continental referenda? What percentage would go to local projects?

More generally, the idea is to work towards a truly redistributive system of taxation, giving governments the means to fulfil their obligations towards their citizens with regard to their economic, social and cultural rights.


3. A new development strategy


Instead of the present development strategy, which consists of the creditors forcing Southern countries to adopt neo-liberal type adjustment programmes, an endogenous and integrated development strategy should be embraced. The change would be implemented in the following stages:


3.1   End Structural Adjustment Policies

Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAP) result in the weakening of States by making them more dependent on external fluctuations (world market movements, speculative attacks, etc.) and by subjecting them to conditionalities imposed by the IMF/World Bank duo backed up by the governments of the creditor countries grouped within the Club de Paris.

       SAPs deliver up the economies of the Third World to the appetites of the great multinational firms. Far from solving the problem of indebtedness (the Third World debt has quadrupled since the first SAPs were set up, even though it has been repaid six times over during the same period), they entail massive redundancies and drastic cuts in social budgets. They prevent any real human development.

       The UN Human Rights Commission[29] has repeatedly adopted resolutions concerning the debt problem and structural adjustment. In a resolution adopted in 1999, the Commission states that "For the population of an indebted country, the exercise of their basic rights to food, housing, clothing, work, education, medical care and a healthy environment may not be subordinated to the application of Structural Adjustment Programmes and economic reforms generated by the debt." (1999, Art.5).


The UN Secretary General, for his part, writes that "The UN Special Investigator on Structural Adjustment clearly shows that Structural Adjustment Programmes, recommended by the international financial institutions, have a patently negative influence (directly and indirectly) on the fulfilment of economic, social and cultural rights and are incompatible with the fulfilment of those rights." (UN, Secretary General, 1995, p.66, quoted by Chris Jochnick, 2000, p.136).

       Furthermore, according to the UN, certain conditions fixed by the creditors and the funding agencies constitute a violation of the right to self-determination of the populations concerned: "Every country has a sovereign right to dispose freely of its natural resources for its economic development and the welfare of its people; any measures or external economic or political pressures which are brought to bear against the exercise of this right is a patent violation of the principles of self-determination of peoples and of non-intervention as stated in the UN Charter (...) Those measures include economic pressure aimed at influencing another country's policies or at controlling the main sectors of its national economy. Economic and technical assistance, loans and the increase of foreign investments must be provided without the imposition of conditions which go against the interests of the receiving country." (Secretary General 1995: 165, 171, 173).

Fantu Cheru, the UN's special reporter on the effects of SAPs and the external debt on the effective enjoyment of all human rights, especially economic, social and cultural rights (sic !), declares “ Aggravated malnutrition, the fall in school attendance rates and the rise of unemployment have been imputed to structural adjustment policies. Yet the same institutions (Author's note: the International Financial Institutions) continue to prescribe the same therapy and make it a condition to qualify for debt reduction, in denial of the evidence – that is, that structural adjustment programmes have without the shadow of a doubt increased poverty ” (in UN Human Rights , E/CN.4/2001/56, 18 January 2001, p. 14).

The human consequences of Structural Adjustment Programmes are incontestably negative. The latter must therefore be cancelled and replaced with policies aimed at satisfying basic human needs, giving priority to domestic markets, food security and complementary exchanges on a regional or continental basis.


3.2 Ensure the return of privatised strategic sectors to the public domain

       Water reserves and distribution, electricity production and distribution, telecommunications, postal services, railways, companies which extract and transform raw materials, the credit system, certain education and health sectors, etc. have been systematically privatised or are in the process of being so. These companies must be returned to the public domain.


3.3    Adopt a partly self-based development model  

Such models entail constructing sufficiently solid internal economic foundations to allow the country to open up to international trading.

       This type of development involves creating politically and economically integrated zones, bringing to bear endogenous development models, strengthening internal markets, creating local savings funds for local financing, developing education and health, setting up progressive taxation and other mechanisms to ensure the redistribution of wealth, diversifying exports, introducing agrarian reform to guarantee universal access to land for small farmers and urban reform to guarantee universal access to housing, etc.

       Today's global architecture, structured on the idea of a "Periphery" which is forced to provide raw materials and cheap labour to a "Centre" that has all the technology and capital, must be replaced by regional economic groupings. Only such self-based development would allow South-South relations to emerge, which is the condition sine qua non for the economic development of the Third World (and therefore, by extension, the world). These integrated zones could establish regional authorities with powers of economic and social regulation.


3.4 Act upon trading practice

The existence of unfair exchange between the most industrialised countries and those of the Periphery is one of the fundamental causes of the latter's indebtedness. In fact unequal exchange creates a structural deficit in the balance of payments: imports grow faster than exports, leading to indebtedness.

       The historical tendency to downgrade the terms of exchange must be brought to an end. To do this, mechanisms guaranteeing a better price for the basket of products exported on the world market by Developing Countries must be introduced. (These might include stabilising the prices of raw materials, building up regulatory stocks - which means doing away with zero stocks, etc.)

       To set up such concerted mechanisms, the Developing Countries' efforts to establish cartels of producer countries must be actively encouraged. The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is too often decried, while in several respects it plays a positive role[30]. The creation of such cartels could simultaneously result in a reduction of the quantities exported (which, on the one hand, would limit the exhaustion of natural resources, and on the other, would free up areas for cultivation of food crops) and an increase in export revenues that the beneficiary countries can reinvest in development. Why not a cartel of copper producers (not long ago, Chile alone accounted for 30% of global exports)? A coffee cartel? A tea cartel? Etc.

The countries of the Periphery must be able to have recourse to protection measures for their local production.

       As for agriculture, as demanded by Via Campesina, there has to be recognition of each country's, or group of countries', right to nutritional sovereignty, and especially to self-sufficiency in staple foodstuffs. Import protection is the logical corollary, in total opposition to the minimum agricultural import quota of 5% now imposed on all member countries by WTO rules.

In the words of Via Campesina: “To guarantee the independence and food sovereignty of all the peoples of the world, food has to be produced within small-holder based systems of diversified production. Food sovereignty means a population's unalienable right to define its own agricultural policies and, concerning food, to protect and regulate national agricultural production and the domestic market so that sustainable objectives can be met. It means deciding on ways of reaching self-sufficiency without getting rid of their overproduction by dumping it on other countries. (…) International trade must not be given priority over social, cultural, environmental or development criteria. ” (Via Campesina, in Rafael Diaz- Salazar 2002, p.87 & 90). Furthermore, Via Campesina is in favour of "the abolition of all backing or subsidies, direct or indirect, of exports ", of "the prohibition of the production and marketing of seed and genetically modified organisms" and of "the prohibition of patents on life and the private appropriation of knowledge related to agriculture and food " (op. cit.).


  The rules of global trading must be subordinate to strict environmental, social and cultural criteria. Health, education, water and culture can have no place in the field of world commerce. Public services in the general interest are the guarantee of basic rights and must therefore be excluded from the General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS).

Furthermore, the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) agreement needs to be abolished, aspects of which allow the North to appropriate the rich natural resources of the South and prevent the Southern countries from freely producing goods (such as medicines) to satisfy the needs of their populations.


3.5. Guarantee people's right to circulate and to settle

Quite apart from the fact that the freedom to circulate and to settle constitutes a basic human right, it should be remembered that migrant workers' remittances to their families living in the DCs represent a very important resource for tens of millions of families. In 2002 alone, migrants' remittances represented 80 billion dollars (see details in Chapter 9), i.e. twice as much as the "donation" part of all Official Development Assistance. It is the free circulation of capital and merchandise that need to be combated; and, in the struggle against selfish, neo-liberal policies, people's right to circulate freely and settle that needs to be firmly upheld. Obviously, on the basis of the real improvement in living conditions that will result from the application of the measures outlined above, the reasons for migrating will disappear. That is the way to deal with the problem, not by closing borders to human beings. 


4. New rules of good financial practice


       The repeated financial crises of the 90s proved by their absurdity that there can be no sustainable development without strict controls of capital movements and tax evasion. Several strategies are therefore required to subordinate the money markets to the fulfilment of basic human needs.


4.1   Re-regulate the financial markets

The deregulation of the money markets has led to the inordinate development of financial speculation. It is time to regulate the money markets once again, beginning by establishing a means of tracing all financial operations (to determine who does what and for what purpose).


4.2   Control capital movements to avoid the devastating effects of the remorseless ebb and flow of international capital.

Article VI of the IMF Statutes explicitly recognises the merits of a government adopting measures to control capital movements. The article permits a member country of the IMF "Exercise such controls as are necessary to regulate international capital movements".

An appropriate measure would be to establish a temporary obligatory deposit, whereby every capital entry would be conditional upon an accompanying deposit for one year of 30% of the sum invested. After a year, the deposit would be returned to the investor (encouraged to invest only in the long term). The deposit would not earn any interest.

Numerous other control measures exist, for example the obligation to hold shares and bonds for a minimum of one year before selling them on, the limitation of currency exchange to commercial transactions (excluding financial operations), heavy taxation in the case of excessive fluctuation (as proposed by the economist Bernd Spahn), etc.


4.3 Eliminate tax havens which contribute to inflating the financial bubble and weakening the legitimate economies (between 500 and 1500 billion dollars are laundered each year). To do this, each State must identify through the clearing-houses which transactions come from tax havens, and tax them heavily, to cancel out the benefit of unfair fiscal policy. At the same time, they must remove the bankers' rule of secrecy to combat more efficiently tax evasion, embezzlement of public funds and corruption.


4.3   Adopt rules to ensure the protection of countries which have recourse to external indebtedness      

External indebtedness may be justified if decided democratically by the countries concerned. However the use the borrowed money will be put to must be organised according to principles radically different from those that have hitherto prevailed.

       Two new principles must be adhered to. First, a "reverse" conditionality: the obligation to repay and pay interest on these loans, made at low rates of interest and below market conditions, will only be valid if the debt is proven to have enabled sufficient creation of wealth in the countries concerned.

       Second, the lender countries should organise strong and efficient protection for the Developing Countries on an international scale, to enable the latter to defend themselves against all forms of abuse and despoilment by banks, private international investors or the international financial institutions.

Furthermore, as Carlos Marichal suggests (Carlos Marichal, 2002 in Fattorelli, p. 21), private companies that contract debts must be made to take the risks on themselves. Any company that borrows from outside will have to take out insurance with a big international insurance company. This should prevent the Sate - and thus the tax-payers - from having to bail out the company in case of bankruptcy, as happens regularly at the moment. For example, in the crises of the 1990s, the governments of the indebted countries of East Asia and Latin America took over the private debts. 

Lastly, every loan contract should stipulate that the courts of the borrowing countries will deal with any litigation that might arise between borrower and lender. This would reverse the present situation where it is systematically the courts of the creditor countries that deal with cases of litigation.  It is clear from perusal of the sentences handed down that the courts of the creditor countries tend to find in favour of the lender. It would be far preferable for the courts of the borrowing countries to deal with such cases, so that borrowers will be better protected and lenders made to assume their responsibilities.  


4.5   Democratic control of political indebtedness

The decision by a State to contract debts and the terms under which they are taken out must be submitted to popular approval (by debate and vote in parliament, and citizens' control).


5. Further indispensable measures


Cancelling the external public debts of the Periphery, abandoning structural adjustment policies and other measures proposed above are necessary conditions, but insufficient as such to guarantee the authentic human development of the peoples of the world. Further measures are indispensable, beginning with equality between women and men and the right to self-determination for indigenous peoples.

On a global level, the following must be guaranteed for all: freedom to circulate and freedom to settle; the universal right to employment by a radical reduction of working hours, contrary to the present line of reasoning which results in the unemployed coexisting alongside overworked and stressed salary-earners[31]; the universal right to a citizen's income (Passet, 2000, pp.266-278; ATTAC, 2001a, Coutrot and Husson, Avenue du plein emploi, (Full Employment Avenue), p.66); the discontinuance by the North of the public debt mechanism which engenders austerity policies and the massive transfer of citizens' income to capital holders[32]; the defence of the pension system by distribution as opposed to the system by capitalisation (and the introduction of the distribution pension system where it does not exist) (Kalfa in ATTAC, 2001b, Une economie au service de l'homme, pp.141-159); free education and health; prohibition of GMOs in agriculture as demanded by Via Campesina; vast socially useful and environmentally friendly public works programmes (for example, building accommodation and urban facilities, renovation of existing accommodation, railway infrastructure for public transport…); literacy campaigns; vaccination campaigns; primary healthcare of the sort seen in Nicaragua between 1980 and 1983 and in Cuba in the first phase of the revolution, with spectacular results…


Arms expenditure: Particular attention must be brought to the drastic reduction of arms expenditure. These represent about 800 billion dollars a year. The vast majority of arms are produced by G8 countries (see chapter 8). These countries, using export credits, push the Periphery countries to buy arms, despite hypocritical speeches to the contrary. The most highly industrialised countries, starting with the United States (about 400 billion dollars), spend outrageous sums on producing tools of destruction and death. A drastic reduction in arms spending and a move towards total disarmament would free up the enormous dividends of peace, to be shared to the benefit of all.


Multinational corporations (MNCs): They have to be made to take legal responsibility with regard to both national and international jurisdiction. This includes in countries where they have subsidiaries. What about the families of the more than 100,000 Bhopal inhabitants who died in atrocious circumstances due to the negligence of the MNC Union Carbide in India in December 1984? The directors of Union Carbide got off scot-free.  However, the wind of change is blowing. In 2002, a group of victims of Apartheid brought an action against 21 MNCs in a New York court. The MNCs are accused of aiding and abetting a regime responsible for crimes against humanity.  Governments must use their power to hold MNCs to respecting international and national treaties and conventions on human rights and protection of the environment. The Bilateral Agreements on Investment (BAI) should also be done away with; they are simply the MAI (Multilateral Agreement on Investment) in sheep's clothing. They confer exorbitant powers on the MNCs and lead governments to give up their national sovereignty. States should implement their right to nationalise MNC subsidiaries so that their own citizens can dispose of their own natural resources.


The question of political democracy is obviously central. Without the active intervention of citizens at all levels of political decision-making, none of the proposals made here would make much sense.


Global public goods: One of the issues dear to the heart of alter-globalisation is global public goods. There are a variety of terms used - common goods, human heritage, the common inheritance of humankind - and the field they cover is broadening all the time. Indeed, “ The fundamental rights and needs of the human person and ecological necessity are the decisive factors in identifying something as a global public good (Lille and Verschave, 2003). To draw up a complete list of public goods, there would have to be a vast democratic consultation, reflecting different histories and cultures.


The notion of "public good" intersects the notion of "right" at many points. The protection of public goods means guaranteeing the universal right and access to water, clean air, energy, food, transport, basic education, and also to knowledge in the wider sense, to development, to equality, freedom, pleasure… in other words, the right to life. All these rights have been magnificently expressed in the pacts and charters of the UN. 

Compared to these historical antecedents, it has to be admitted that the Millennium objectives are minimalist. By fighting for public goods, the alter-globalisation movement is a spur urging a return to the founding texts to bring them up to date.  Access to public goods for all, now and in the future, and their conservation, for things like water, air and energy for example, means that we need proper global ecological legislation, which at the moment barely exists.  The right to development would also require economic legislation that would make it possible to argue in court for the criminal nature of usurious indebtedness. 

From this it follows that, still in the context of rights and law, justice itself must be considered as a public good - criminal justice, economic and social justice. For justice intersects with all other global public goods. It is both a condition and a component of the most fundamental public goods: equality, liberty and solidarity.



6.        What future for the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO?


Can the IMF and the World Bank be reformed? There is every reason to doubt it. In my opinion, these institutions should be abolished and replaced by other global institutions[33]. They should be abolished because their property-based constitutions, their allegiance to a very limited number of countries (of which only one, the United States, has the veto on any decision it may wish to block, even if all 183 other members wanted it to go forward) and the distribution of power within their ranks are incompatible with any truly democratic reform (see Chapters 10 and 11). Other multilateral institutions should be set up in their stead (with the same names or different ones does not matter) based on the democratic principle contained in the UN Charter (one State, one vote) and with the mission of ensuring monetary stability internationally, controlling capital movements, offering low-interest loans not tied to neo-liberal monetarist conditionalities, and returning what was stolen from them to the countries of the Periphery. Mankind should be endowed with international institutions where every people of the world can really find its place. Institutions where the national delegates could debate questions central to humanity in public (broadcast on television and radio). Institutions where the GDP or the military force of certain countries - or of one country - would have no weight in the decision-making process.


 For years now, the possibility of reforming a whole series of international institutions, in particular the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank and the related regional development banks, has been a subject of open debate. Certain points are not even worth debating: do we need global public institutions in such crucial areas as trade, money and credit?  The answer is affirmative; we will never be able to resolve international problems without permanent, internationally recognised institutions having democratic legitimacy. 

The second point of debate could be the object of a consensus: do we only need institutions of global scope, or would it be a good idea to delegate certain tasks to regional bodies, to avoid too much centralisation, with institutions too far removed from the day-to-day reality of peoples around the world? It might be agreed that within the global organisations, regional structures should be given considerable autonomy.

As an example, during the Asian crisis of 1997-98, the US government and the directors of the IMF opposed the creation of an Asian monetary fund, which had it existed, would have permitted a concerted and far more efficacious response to the speculative attacks than a global organisation could provide. It is perfectly conceivable that the IMF co-exist with regional monetary funds. 

Another example: a Latin American and Caribbean monetary fund could give rise to a single currency for the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean. One would hardly expect a global organisation to encourage the creation of a regional currency. Of course, if it were possible to get to the point where the whole planet adopted a single currency, that would be real progress, but there are obviously several stages ahead before reaching that point.  One is that the Periphery countries should band together to equip themselves with a common currency so that they can do without the dollar, the euro and the yen as much as possible, connect up among themselves and become less dependent on the fluctuations of those three hard currencies.


The most burning question of the debate is, can we concentrate on reforming the institutions (in particular the above-mentioned trio) or should we be taking action to replace them with new ones?


  Whether the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO should be reformed or replaced is the object of ongoing debate within the different social movements and networks belonging to the movement for a different type of globalisation. There is general agreement both on the need for global institutions for exchange, credit and trade [34] and on the rejection of the policies upheld by the IMF, the WB and the WTO. This was what Gus Massiah, president of the CRID (the French Centre for Research and Information on Development) and vice-president of ATTAC France, explained in his closing speech at the seminar on the future of the International Financial Institutions held at the National Assembly in Paris on 22nd and 23rd June 2001: "High on today's agenda is the discussion between those who feel that the time has come to demand that [the IFIs] should be dismantled or set aside while new institutions are put in their place, and those who think that their present crisis provides an opportunity to make them advance by imposing structural reforms. It is not a dogmatic or theological issue, but an analysis of the situation and inherent political opportunities. The debate is open, each movement must decide what steps to take regarding common objectives" (Guy Massiah, June 2001).


Let us continue the debate, while at the same time reinforcing the unity between partisans of radical reform of the institutions and partisans of their replacement.

It would first be helpful to define the kind of institutions that might replace the present ones.

We should opt for proposals that radically redefine the basis of the international architecture (missions, modes of operation…). Let us reconsider the case of those specialised global institutions, the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank. 


Concerning the World Trade Organisation, we share the abolitionist point of view of Walden Bello and Nicola Bullard of the Focus on the Global South network (Bello, 2000a), and that of François Houtart and Samir Amin of the World Forum for Alternatives (Amin, 2000). Michel Husson summarises the arguments as follows: "The treaty which instituted the WTO is a contract with advantages for only a few, in the imperial style. It cannot serve as a basis for a world economic order favouring development. This is why we are fighting to have the WTO dismantled, and its functions devolved upon other institutions. UNCTAD could provide the framework within which agreements could be made with the aim of true co-development. The function of such an institution would be to guarantee and organise the right of the countries of the South to take the protection measures necessary for their integration into the world market, whereas the entire logic of the WTO is founded on the negation of that right. It would also ensure the transfer of technology, unlike the WTO mainly preoccupied by the protection of property rights and the patenting of anything that can be patented. Finally, instead of giving the WTO the role of judge in questions of labour legislation, the powers and competence of the International Labour Organisation should be broadened, by giving it possibilities of recourse. It is within this context that the debate over "social clauses" should be held, and that the NGOs and trade unions should constitute a common front for universal advances in social rights" (Michel Husson, 2001).


 In the domain of trade, the new WTO or the organisation that replaces it should aim to guarantee the fulfilment of a series of international pacts and treaties, starting with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all the fundamental treaties on human rights (individual and collective) and the environment.  Its main function will be to supervise and regulate trade so that it conforms strictly to social (the conventions of the International Labour Organisation - ILO) and environmental norms. This definition is in direct opposition to the WTO's present objectives, which are to impose free trade, to commercialise every aspect of human activity and all natural resources, to generalise new rules uniquely and systematically in the interests of the MNCs (and usually of their making).

Of course this necessitates a strict separation of powers. There is no question of allowing the WTO, or any other organisation for that matter, to have its own court. So the Dispute Settlement Body will have to go.


The World Bank, or whatever stands in for it, would regain its legitimacy if it was largely regionalised and had as its function to make loans at low or zero interest rates and donations, conditional upon express guarantees that they are used only in strict observance of social and environmental norms and, more generally, basic human rights. 

Unlike today's World Bank, the new one, the one the world needs, would not seek to defend the interests of the creditors and force the borrowers into submission to the market-king. This new bank would have as its principal mission to defend the interests of the populations who receive loans and donations.

As for the IMF in its new form, which in some respects would resemble its original mandate, it should guarantee the stability of currencies, fight speculation, control capital movements, take measures to prohibit tax havens and fiscal fraud. To attain this last objective, it could contribute, along with governments and regional monetary funds, to the pool of different taxes (de Tobin-type taxes, Spahn-type taxes, taxes on Direct Foreign Investment…).


All these avenues require a new, coherent, global architecture, with its own hierarchy and division of powers. The cornerstone should be the United Nations, provided that its General Assembly become the true decision-making hub. This implies eradicating the status of permanent member of the Security Council, and the veto that goes with it. The General Assembly could delegate specific missions to ad hoc committees. 


The UN could also be reformed, as Gilbert Achcar (2002) proposes, by giving it a double-chamber system along the lines of the US constitution or that of the USSR in 1923.  There would be the Chamber of States, rather like the present General Assembly, and the Chamber of Peoples, elected by direct suffrage with proportional representation of the populations (G. Achcar, 2002, note 17, p. 122).


As a permanent body, alongside the Security Council, which could only act on a General Assembly mandate, there could be an Economic and Social Council like the present ECOSOC but with real powers issuing from a clear General Assembly mandate. As a useful comparison, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council should not be given sweeping and undemocratic powers comparable to those of the European Commission. The Security Council and the Economic and Social Council should be subordinate to the UN General Assembly. 

Another thing: today, the UN usually plays the role of an international fire-brigade or ambulance . In some cases, it simply serves as an alibi or cover for military aggression waged by the world's most powerful countries, as was the case in the intervention of the USA and its allies in the first Gulf War in 1991 and in Somalia in 1992. Increasingly, it promotes the interests of the most powerful MNCs - as in the case of the Global Compact initiative taken by the Secretary General, Koffi Annan, in 2000.

The UN must turn its back on these practices, unworthy of its initial mandate, and become (once more) the champion of a new global economic and social order based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international pacts and treaties on human rights (individual and collective) and the environment. 

We believe that it is necessary and possible to reform the UN for three fundamental reasons: its charter is globally progressive and democratic; the principle underlying its composition is democratic (one State = one Vote) - even if it needs to be completed by a system of direct proportional representation, as suggested above; during part of its past, in the 1960s and 1970s, the General Assembly adopted resolutions and made declarations that were distinctly progressive (and which remain applicable, in principle) and set up several useful institutions (the ILO, UNCTAD, the WHO…).

The situation of the World Bank and the IMF is quite different. Their constitutions are antidemocratic, indeed frankly despotic, and the US government's veto makes any significant change impossible in the foreseeable future. The World Bank has never hesitated to violate UN resolutions (particularly those of 1964 condemning South Africa and Apartheid, and Portugal for maintaining its colonial empire). As for the WTO, even if, in principle, its mode of representation is democratic (one State = one Vote), the fairy godmothers that presided over its cradle sent it shooting off into an orbit diametrically opposed to that of the interests of humankind. It has to be prevented from doing any (further) harm as soon as possible.


One other question that has not yet been taken far enough is that of an international legal system, an international judiciary, independent of the other international instances of power, which would complete the present system, mainly composed of the International Court at The Hague and the young International Criminal Court. With the neo-liberal offensive of the last twenty years, the laws of commerce have progressively taken over public law. Undemocratic international institutions like the WTO and the World Bank function with their own legal structures: the Dispute Settlement Body, part of the WTO, and the ICSID (International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes) which has taken on a disproportionate importance since the multiplication of Bilateral Agreements on Investment (BAI). The UN Charter is (regularly) violated by permanent members of its Security Council, the USA and the UK in particular. New places where the rule of law does not apply have been created. Prisoners deprived of all rights are held in Guantanamo by the USA. After having impugned the International Court of the Hague where it was condemned in 1985 for having attacked Nicaragua, the USA now refuses to recognise the International Criminal Court. 

All that is extremely worrying and requires urgent initiatives to be taken to complete the international legal system. This means elaborating or adopting international law on matters where there is an absence of, or inadequate, legal definition. One example would be the International Arbitration Tribunal for the debt, proposed by certain movements. The idea is attractive, but the question is, what law would apply there?  International Trade Law? That is, the trade laws of the creditor States (almost 80% of loan contracts stipulate that the competent legal authority is that of the USA or the UK)? If that were the case, the borrowers are pretty sure to lose. Should there not first (or at least, at the same time) be a redefinition of the law regulating relations between borrowers and lenders? The question contains its own answer.


  At the beginning of this chapter, the limits of the proposals were emphasised. The question which we have tried to answer was summarised as follows: how does one move from an economy of indebtedness towards financing sustainable and socially just development? To answer it, we have scanned a broad range of ideas, yet without claiming to lay down a complete coherent set of proposals. Some fundamental issues were not able to be addressed in the chapter even though they constitute a necessary part of any alternative on both a national and a global scale. Some of these issues will require specific elaboration: how to weave the gender dimension into the proposals, so that they promote real advances towards equality between men and women? Is the proposal to include social clauses central to the quest to improve workers' rights internationally? What about environmental clauses? What strategy should be adopted with regard to multinationals?


Complementary measures are dealt with in other documents prepared by different international networks and movements such as ATTAC, CADTM, Via Campesina, Focus on the Global South, the World Forum for Alternatives, the World Women's March, Jubilee South… or adopted at large international meetings such as those of Saint Denis, Paris (June 1999), Bangkok (February 2000), Geneva (June 2000), Dakar (December 2000) and Porto Alegre (the social movements' declaration at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre 2001, 2002, 2003 and in Mumbai 2004). For a broader alternative view, these documents are well worth consulting.

[1] This contribution is an entirely reworked and augmented version of a text written in collaboration with Arnaud Zacharie, “ Guarantee the satisfaction of basic human needs for all ”. It was the CADTM's contribution to the second World Social Forum held in Porto Alegre in January 2002. The original text can be consulted on the CADTM's web-site  The new additions are entirely the responsiblity of the author. This contribution has been presented in Quito in July 2004 during the first Social Forum of the Americas.

[2] Sustainable development is defined as a development which "enables fulfilment of present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to fulfil theirs," cited by Passet, 2000, p.14. The concept of sustainable development is criticised as it is usually associated with the idea of continued growth. The issues raised by sustainable development are beyond the scope of this work. 

[3] World Bank, WHO, UNDP, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF, Implementing the 20/20 Initiative. Achieving universal access to basic social services, 1998,

[4] The above-mentioned organisations estimate that it would cost an extra 80 billion dollars a year (at the dollar's 1995 value) to reach the amount required for basic social services, on top of the 136 billion dollars now spent.

[5] According to Forbes magazine 2001, in 2000 the joint assets of Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Paul Allen and Warren Buffett came to 160.6 billion dollars.

[6] According to the 2003 edition of theWorld Wealth Report 2003, produced by the wealth management consultants, Cap Gemini Ernst and Young and the investment bank Merrill Lynch, in 2002 there were about 7.3 million millionaires in dollars (i.e. about one thousandth of the world's population) with about 27,300 billion dollars between them (not including their main place of residence).

[7] See Medecins sans Frontieres (2002), “ Acces aux medicaments et sante publique universelle ” (Access to medicines and universal public health) on the site of the World Social Forum.

[8] See MSF cited above: “On internet, of the 1,223 new medicines to have been marketed between 1975 and 1997, only 13 were designed to treat tropical infectious diseases and half of those derived from veterinary research. Only 0.2% of the global budget for pharmaceutical research, which fluctuates between 50 and 60 billion dollars, is devoted to acute respiratory diseases, tuberculosis and diarrhoea-type diseases, which together account for 18% of global mortality”. In the same document, MSF explains that the pharmaceutical company Aventis abandoned production of the only efficient drug to treat sleeping sickness in 1994. The reason given was insufficient profits.

[9] It is not enough for governments to guarantee basic needs, with the rest depending on private initiative. For example, governments must ensure universal access not only to primary, but also to secondary and higher education.

[10] Source: World Bank, GDF, 2003. What is mentioned above is up to and including 2003 (at time of writing). It is unlikely that the flows will become positive in 2004-2005.

[11] See Hugo Ruiz Diaz's concise introduction in “ La dette odieuse ou la nullite de la dette” (Odious or Invalid Debt), his contribution at the 2nd Seminar on International Law and the Debt organised by the CADTM in Amsterdam in December 2002.

Text available on the CADTM web-site

[12] Cuba 1895-1898: In 1895, the poet Jose Marti, a Jacobite with ideas close to those of socialism, started off an independence war. The whole country was at war. Jose Marti organised the Liberation Army (more than 50,000 fighters) and founded the Republic in Arms. Over 150,000 people came to live in the rebel-held areas. Spain waged total war in 1896-97, with concentration camps; some 400,000 people died there. But Spain lost, despite her 250,000 soldiers, and had to grant autonomy in January 1898. The revolutionaries did not accept and continued fighting. The USA declared war on Spain. After a brief campaign when it got the support of the Cuban revolutionaries, the US Army took over the island. Without recognising the Cuban republic, the USA signed a pact with Spain whereby Spain renounced all claim to Cuba (Treaty of Paris, of 10 December 1898). 1898-1902: The USA occupied the island for almost four years and obliged the members of the Constitutive Assembly of 1901 to adopt the Platt amendment(1902). Cuba had to grant the USA the right to intervene in the island to "preserve Cuban independence" and to have a government t that would "protect life, property and intellectual liberty ". Washington obtained the Guantanamo base, for an indefinite period. The Republic of Cuba was founded on 20 May 1902. From that moment until the revolutionary victory of 1 January 1959, Cuba was under the neo-colonial domination of the USA (source: Yannick Bovy and Eric Toussaint, 2001, Cuba : Le pas suspendu de la revolution, (The suspended step of the revolution) Cuesmes – Belgium, 2001, p. 36-37).

[13] In the case of Rwanda, the International Development Committee of the British parliament explicitly evoked the notion of "odious debt" in pleading for its cancellation: "A large part of Rwanda's external debt was contracted by a genocidal regime… There are claims that these loans were used to buy arms and that the present government, and in the last instance, the population of Rwanda, should not have to repay these "odious" debts. We recommend that the government should urge all bilateral creditors, especially France, to cancel the debt contracted by the previous regime" (in Report of the British International Development Committee, May 1998, cited by Chris Jochnich, 2000)

[14] See Pazmino's contribution at the 2nd Seminar on International Law and the Debt organised by the CADTM in Amsterdam in December 2002.

[15] In general, the poorer a country of the South, the higher the share of its debt due to the IMF and the World Bank. In the case of many African countries without strategic natural resources, more than 70% of their debts are due to the Bretton Woods Institutions.

[16] Dolus malus: a legal term meaning 'wilful misrepresentation'.

[17] In“ Globalisation and its Discontents ”, Joseph Stiglitz describes a situation that goes back to the time when he was vice-president of the World Bank: “ A picture can be worth a thousand words, and a single picture snapped in 1998, shown throughout the world, has engraved itself in the minds of millions, particularly those in the former colonies. The IMF's Managing Director, Michel Camdessus (…), a short, neatly dressed former French Treasury bureaucrat (…), is standing with a stern face and crossed arms over the seated and humiliated president of Indonesia. The hapless president was being forced, in effect, to turn over the economic sovereignty of his country to the IMF in return for the aid his country needed. In the end, ironically, much of the money went not to help Indonesia but to bail out the "colonial power's" private sector creditors. Officially, the "ceremony" was the signing of a letter of agreement, an agreement effectively dictated by the IMF though it still tries to keep up the pretence that the letter of intent comes from the country's government!" in Stiglitz, 2002, p. 40-41)

[18] For an analysis of the force majeure argument in the case of debt cancellation, see Hugo Ruiz Diaz's paper : “ La dette extérieure : mécanismes juridiques de non paiement, moratoire ou suspension de paiement ” (External debt: the legal mechanisms of non payment, moratorium or suspension of payment), presented at the 1st International Seminar on International Law and the Debt, organised by the CADTM in Brussels in December 2001.

[19] ILC, Draft article 31, A/CN, 4/315, ACDI 1978, II, vol. 1, p. 58

[20] Originally formulated thus: Contractus qui habent tractum successivum et dependetiam de futurum, rebus sic stan, tibus intelligentur.

[21] Charles Fenwick, International Law (3rd edition 1948): similarly, in one of the definitive texts on common law, explains that "a tacit condition, binding all contracts, is that they cease to be obligatory when substantial changes arise in the state of affairs or conditions upon which they were drawn up", in Black's Law Dictionary 1267 (6th edition 1990). See also, in international jurisprudence, the sentence pronounced by arbitration on 11th November 1912 in the affair of the State loan between Turkey and Russia where we read, "… the exception of force majeure … may be contested in international law" (Sentence by arbitration, Recueil des Arbitrages internationaux, T.II, 1928, pp.545 ff.). Furthermore, the Argentine Civil Code stipulates that the debtor's obligation ceases "when the benefit which constitutes the object of the debt becomes physically or legally impossible, through no fault of the debtor's" (Art. 724 and 888).

[22] In 2000, the countries of the Periphery repaid approximately 343 billion dollars (240 billion dollars in repayment of the principal and 103 billion dollars of interest) while at the same time receiving fresh loans to the value of about 248 billions. If they had refused to service the debt and had taken out no fresh loans, they would have economised: 343 - 248 = 95 billion dollars (Source: World Bank, GDF, 2001), i.e. more than the 80 billion needed to begin fulfilling basic human needs. .

[23] The complete Spanish text of the sentence is available on the CADTM's web site:

[24] According to the Financial Times, the amount recovered by the Philippine government was 658 million dollars, while Marcos is estimated to have accumulated at least 5, even 10 billion dollars. The procedure was complicated by the fact that the Swiss Supreme Court demanded that a Philippine court pronounce judgement on the sum transferred by Switzerland to a Philippine bank account. The late Marcos' entourage were trying to claim the money. In July 2003, the Philippine Supreme Court finally decided, by 12 votes to 0 and one abstention, that Marcos had acquired the money at issue by illegal means, and that therefore it should be handed over to the Philippine government. (Financial Times, 16/07/2003)

[25] From Resistance to Alternatives, complete text available on the CADTM's web site :

[26] On this subject, see the Alliance of Peoples of the South creditors of the environmental debt, work by Joan Martinez - University of Barcelona - and Aurora Donosio - Accion Ecologica, Ecuador.

[27] Such a proposal is bound to raise howls of protest from neo-liberals, in the name of freedom and justice. However, they had no scruples about the high-handed devaluation of the CFA franc (of the Franc Zone) in January 1994 and many other devaluations that enable the rich to get richer. The rich only have to have part of their holdings in hard currency for that part of their wealth to increase to a value inversely proportional to the devaluation. The Franc Zone capitalists, knowing that devaluation was in the offing, bought hard currency with "their" CFA francs. Once the CFA franc had been devalued by 50% in January 1994, they had only to buy them back with their hard currency to double their initial outlay. This occurred on a large scale and none of the leading figures of the IMF or the World Bank were heard to complain.

[28] In 2002, the French economist, Bruno Jetin, published a very useful and readable book on the feasibility and finalities of the Tobin tax. On the question of how much might be raised using a Tobin-type tax (TTT), “100 billion dollars would seem a reasonable estimate of the minimum revenue that might be levied by the TTT, without excluding the possibility that it might be three times higher". As to how to use the revenues thus procured, B. Jetin says, “ In our opinion, all the TTT revenues should be used for international programmes of general interest in areas such as health or the environment, on the one hand, and for national development programmes in the countries of the South, on the other ”.. (Bruno Jetin, La taxe Tobin et la Solidarite entre les Nations, (The Tobin Tax and Solidarity between Nations), Edition Descartes et Cie, Paris, 2002).


[29] With reference to the investigations of special reporters, of experts' working groups and of the UN Secretary General.

[30] For example, Venezuela, an OPEC member, has signed agreements with about a dozen Caribbean and Latin American countries - including Cuba - whereby it sells them oil at "friendly" prices, much lower than the price it charges the USA for which it is one of the main suppliers.

[31] "An explicit objective must be that of abolishing unemployment, which is the main mechanism for social discrimination of the worst sort. All the debates about the end of waged labour, and the wonders of free time and a well-rounded lifestyle, are no obstacle to this objective. Indeed, these matters cannot be properly addressed as long as so many are excluded from the terms of the debate. This is why a generalised reduction of working time is pivotal for finding an egalitarian solution to the social crisis" (Husson, 1996). Such a project implies workers' control to guarantee the full application of these measures, the rhythm and organisation of work (no overtime allowed, no night-shifts where not socially necessary, no piece-work

[32] As François Chesnais observed, "In simple terms, this is precisely the most solid mechanism set up by financial liberalisation for the transfer of the wealth of certain social groups and certain countries to others. Any attack on the foundations of finance means dismantling these mechanisms and therefore cancelling public debts, not only those of the poorest countries, but also those of any country where the living, breathing social forces refuse to see their government subject its citizens to austerity budgets on the pretext of repaying the public debt." (Chesnais, 1998, Tobin or not Tobin?, p.11).

[33] Michel Husson, in a text destined for the editorial committee of ATTAC France, advances a similar point of view: "The IMF and the World Bank have lost all credibility, they are universally denounced, criticised and opposed. They have been widely discredited, which is why they must be abandoned or dismantled. Walden Bello, of Focus on the Global South, talks of decommissioning them, the term used for nuclear power stations. In other words, the Bretton Woods institutions must be left behind and replaced by new ones, better suited to a new conception of globalisation. No-one denies the need to dispose of institutions, and there is no question of rallying to the ultra-liberal logic of the Meltzer report which seeks, from a narrow viewpoint, to uphold the logic of the present way of running the IFIs. Neither does this position imply a lack of concern about the institutional terrain. The growing success of our demonstrations makes it all the more relevant and necessary to build there. If indeed there is to be a debate between the "abolitionists" - who want to replace the existing financial institutions with new ones - and the "reformists" who propose to transform the present institutions into new ones, then let it go ahead without delaying the process. All are agreed upon the objective which is to set up more democratic institutions, centred on the interests of the citizens of the world." (Michel Husson, June 2001).


[34]"We therefore consider that international financial institutions are necessary for long-term action, but we do not trust the orientations and functioning of those in place. What we expect from these institutions is, very specifically, stability of the monetary system, the prevention of financial crises AND a finance system which promotes development respectful of human rights, which we will call, to keep it simple, sustainable development. Moreover, we expect these institutions to function democratically" (Gus Massiah, June 2001).