Debt burdens still mean a chain of dominance for lots of people in this world, affecting every day the lives of millions. The wrong solutions offered by governments and international institutions could not affront the origin of the problems of the financial crisis, and, moreover, they did not recognize the historic, social, economic and political debts, which have been accumulated by the Global North towards the people of the Global South.
How can we fight against debt in a global way? Why is debt important in relation to the crisis and what are the solutions? What is the current situation of the debt problem? What is happening in the debt movement and what challenges do we have to overcome?
The people gathered in the Debt Assembly of the World Social Forum (WSF) discussed different situations and proposals trying to find a common way to fight the chains of debt.
In the first place, special cases were presented where, due to political incidents, catastrophes or other situations, it becomes especially important to resolve urgently the debt question. Evidences were presented in the Assembly in the case of Pakistan, Haiti, Senegal, the Ivory Cost, South Sudan, Ecuador, Tunisia and Greece, amongst others. Other cases like Zimbabwe or the Democratic Republic of Congo were treated to a great extend in workshops during the WSF. In the assembly it was decided that it is important to strengthen the network of movements, organisations and persons who fight against debt in order to support each other mutually and to bolster those civil societies who are fighting in this ambit in mentioned countries.
The same that occurred in the countries of the South during the last decades is now happening in the North as debt is becoming an instrument to impose strict adjustment policies on the people of Europe. Even the point of departure and the relations of power are different the pattern of neoliberal adjustment, which are reproduced in Europe are the same like in Latin America, Africa or Asia having caused immense social, environmental and human costs. Therefore, it is important to analyze similarities and differences in order to learn from experiences of the fight against debt in the South and so enforce the fight against Debt and the plans of austerity policies in Europe.
We argue for focusing on raising awareness in the population and local groups and to relate the debt problem with the daily lives of people, with education, health, militarization, alimentary sovereignty or trade with special focus on the impact of debt on women and the most vulnerably part of society.
Experiences were exchanged on the fight for the establishment of Debt Audits. Cases were discussed like the successful one of Ecuador, or Argentina and Brazil, where the parliament established commissions to study the debt, as well as other cases where civil societies are working on the implementation of civil audits, like in the case of the Philippines. Or rather putting pressure on the government to initiate this kind of audits officially, which is happening now in Zimbabwe and Greece. Also in Tunisia, Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bolivia, Paraguay, Pakistan and Nepal, as well as in many other countries, numerous actions are carried out in order to promote debt audits.
We consent to the importance of the right of the people to suspend unilaterally the payment of the debt, like Thomas Sankara exercised almost 25 years ago. â€œWe have to stop paying for our own genocide and for the ecocide of mother earthâ€. The people and their governments have the right to dismiss unilaterally illegitimate debts, to suspend the payment of debt service and to conduct audits in order to analyze the origin of the debt as well as to proceed against the responsible persons.
Regarding illegitimate debts those are standing out, which have been generated by credits for fossil fuels projects or others, which provoked an increase of green house gas emissions and thus contributed to climate change. Also those credits are considered illegitimate, which financed â€œwrong solutionsâ€ for climate change like biofuels. Finally, those debts generated by credits that offer institutions like the Word Banc or some governments of the North to adopt or mitigate climate change are considered as well illegitimate debts. The financing of the adoption and fight against Climate Change should be public, transparent and participative, should not serve the capital but the needs of the people, should not generate debts and should in no way allow the participation of the World Banc. In this spirit, we support the campaign â€œWorld Banc out of Climateâ€ (http://www.worldbankoutofclimate.org/). We should continue as well to work on the acknowledgment and restitution of ecological and climate debts, which industrialized countries owe to the people to the South. Therefore, we will celebrate a Tribunal of the Peoples on Ecologic Debt and Climate Justice, which will be held during the COP17 meeting in Durban (from 28th of November until 9th of December 2011) and the COP18 in Rio+20 (2012).
Furthermore, we argue for he creation of an independent debt resolution proceeding, as well as for finding a better solution for the current (non-) mechanisms for those countries whose governments still have not suspend the payment of debt service. Pakistan was mentioned as one of those countries where the people demand this kind of alternative. This issue as well as the initiative to establish a sovereign, democratic and responsible financial framework on an international level was discussed in special workshops.
Finally we agreed to search and create the necessary space to investigate on some questions like the impact of the financial crisis on debt, how we can overcome a monetary system based in indebtedness or what kind of financial model de we want and for what. It is also necessary to focus on the question of the creation of an International Debt Arbitrary Tribunal and the establishment of a sovereign, democratic and responsible financial framework on an international level.
In order to overcome challenges and to advance collectively in accordance with the decisions made in the assembly â€œThe crisis of the capitalistic system and the fight against debt and for justiceâ€ we will continue to coordinate under the Campaign South North on Illegitimate Debt (http://www.illegitimatedebt.org/). This campaign convokes and joins the following mobilizations during the next year.
20th of March: Day of Global Action in solidarity with the rebellions of the Arab and African people, the resistance of the Palestinian and Saharaui people, the mobilization against debt and the structural adjustment plans in Europe, Asia and Africa, and the processes of change in Latin America.
From 8th until 15th of October: Week of Global Action against Debt and the International Financial Institutions, including the adhesion to the convocation of the Assembly of Social Movements of Dakar to convoke a Day of Action against capitalism on 12th of October 2011.