Vienna, 25 April 2000/P/K/16799

Representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) accredited to the United Nations Office in Vienna, after discussions during meetings of the NGO Committee on Development, Vienna, issued the following statement in connection with the forthcoming Special Session of the United Nations' General Assembly on The Implementation of the Outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and Further Initiatives (Copenhagen + 5) and in regard to the accompanying Geneva 2000 Forum of representatives of NGOs and other sectors of Civil Society:

The Secretary-General of the United Nations has again and again pointed out that the commitments made by governments at the World Summit for Social Development five years ago have not yet been fully implemented.

In his Millennium Report the Secretary General has again pointed out that 1.2 billion people have to live today on less than one Dollar a day. He sharply stresses that the combination of extreme poverty with extreme inequity between countries, and often also within them, is an affront to our common heritage.

In our discussion we have drawn attention to the work done by NGOs during the Copenhagen World Summit and the adoption of the Copenhagen Alternative Declaration by hundreds of those present in the NGO Forum at Copenhagen.
This Declaration put forward concrete suggestions for actions by governments to carry forward the aims for which the World Summit had been called. These suggestions have stood the test of time and we very strongly recommend them to the Copenhagen + 5 Special Session of the United NationsGeneral Assembly and to the Geneva 2000 Forum of organizations of Civil Society.

We emphasize in particular the need for steps to be taken by governments in regard to the following key issues:

* Given the fact, on the one hand, that most countries of the South use a considerable part of their national income to cover the services of their extremely high foreign debts and taking into consideration that not even the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) have been granted the cancellation of their foreign debt, we call for an immediate cancellation of the HIPCs foreign debts as a first step to realize the demand of the Copenhagen Alternative Declaration for an "immediate cancellation of bilateral, multilateral and commercial debts of all developing countries without the imposition of structural adjustment conditionality."

* For the same reason we call for the immediate suspension of the structural adjustment programmes and policies of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the indebted nations which we hold responsible for the dramatic shortages in the budgets for health and education in the countries of the South.

* Reiterating the demand of the Copenhagen Alternative Declaration that "regulatory institutions and instruments of governance and law that are truly democratic and enforceable must be established to prohibit monopolistic structures" we call for a reduction in size of the transnational companies (TNC) and the establishment of a binding code of conduct for the TNCs working in the South. In this context also the internationally regulated Social Standards of the Intemational Labour Organization have to be imposed under penalty of sanctions by international courts.

* In order to guarantee the cultural diversity which the Copenhagen Alternative Declaration identifies as "the principle source of new strength, new actors, new social systems and sustainable development," and in order to stop the systematic destruction of the earth by the transnational agro-business companies we urge that limits are put to the expansion of these companies and to put into immediate practice agrarian reforms especially directed to local farming as a guarantee for the worldwide utilization of sustainable resources.

* The international community should enforce the application of a tax on all speculative foreign exchange transactions ("Tobin-Tax") of about 0.5%, the revenue of which should go into a global social development fund with adequate control mechanisms to counteract the negative effects of the globalization of financial capital in order to open up the possibilities for "creating an alternative globalization from below."

We would like to conclude this statement with the Copenhagen Altemative Declaration's words on the insistence on the need to "address the structural causes of poverty, unemployment and social disintegration, as well as environmental degradation," and on placing "people at the center of the development process." We also reiterate the statement by the Alternative Declaration that "the dominant neo-liberal system as a universal model for development has failed ... This system has resulted in an even greater concentration of economic, political, technological and institutional power and control over food and other critical resources in the hands of a relatively few transnational corporations and financial institutions".

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