Vienna, 19 August 1997/P/K/15636c-is

 In a statement on recent economic developments in the ASEAN countries, the President of the International Progress Organization (I.P.O.), Dr. Hans Koechler, questioned the role of international financial speculators operating from the financial centers of the United States and Europe. Referring to the serious financial crisis faced by Thailand and to the turmoil in the financial markets of other ASEAN countries, he called for a new international code of conduct for transnational financial operations. It is totally unacceptable, Dr. Koechler stated, that huge financial transactions determining the fate of millions of people are carried out in a kind of legal vacuum where no regulations, professional standards or financial safeguards exist. Dr. Koechler criticized the remarks of US Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat at last month’s ASEAN conference in Kuala Lumpur. Mr. Eizenstat had said that "financial markets detected strains in the economy of one of the ASEAN countries and reacted accordingly." This statement reflects the problematic nature of extreme economic liberalism according to which the selfish interest of the individual is the only criterion of economic activity, Dr. Koechler stated.

The International Progress Organization, Dr. Koechler went on, considers large-scale international speculation against the currencies of sovereign countries – affecting the lives of millions of people and impoverishing large sectors of the population in developing countries - as something that is not compatible with the norms of peaceful co-operation and that contradicts the very basis on which the United Nations Organization is built. The President of the I.P.O. referred to the recent statements of Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohammad and Malaysian Foreign Minister Abdullah Badawi who called for concrete counter-measures of the ASEAN countries.

All these developments are clear proof of the need to establish a codex of international legal norms - including norms of criminal law - to make such actions of "economic sabotage" impossible and to deter international speculators from their unscrupulous behavior. These developments are further proof that the unrestrained form of economic liberalism is not compatible with the basic norms of morality and with a philosophy that is committed to the common good. This kind of liberalism is of destructive nature as far as the aspirations towards a just and peaceful international order are concerned.

Dr. Koechler referred to the meeting sponsored earlier this year by the I.P.O. at the Vienna Centre of the United Nations on "Globalization and Development" where the major problems now under discussion have been referred to (see I.P.O. news release of 14 February 1997). The book by one of the keynote speakers at the meeting, Hans-Peter Martin, correspondent of the German newsmagazine "Der Spiegel," will be published next month:


Hans-Peter Martin, The Global Trap. Globalization and the Assault on Prosperity and Democracy. ZED Books: London, September 1997.