World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

Staying engaged for justice

01 January 2002

A statement by the Ecumenical Team to the 4th PrepComof Financing for Development
January 2002

The ecumenical community welcomes the FfD process as an unprecedented opportunity for the global community to collectively - and with determination - address the urgent issues of global economic justice. The dominant neo-liberal economic model exacerbates poverty, inequality and exclusion and is an impediment to the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals. The global community cannot remain passive spectators of the relentless march of a globalizing economic system which allows a few unaccountable economic and financial actors to wield excessive power at the expense of the vast majority of the world's peoples.

Financing must not be an end in itself, but focused on people-centred development. The recent financial crises in Asia and the current hardships faced by the people of Argentina are two stark illustrations of failed economic models. The ecumenical community cannot endorse economic models that simply focus on increasing monetary wealth for the few without meaningful mechanisms to address poverty eradication and equitable development.

Justice is the heart of the matter. It is the key to the realization of human dignity and development within secure and sustainable communities. Such communities require a just and moral economy where people are empowered to participate in decisions affecting their lives, and where public and private institutions are held accountable for the social and environmental consequences of their operations. Justice demands the transformation of global economic governance and the international financial system so that their institutions are accountable to and serve all people, not simply the wealthy and powerful.

Staying engaged requires tangible commitments and actions. Engagement without demonstrated commitment is a waste of time. At the very least the Monterrey conference must make commitments to:

  • The principle of the primacy of fair trade, to include:
    ° Immediate market access for developing countries
    °Elimination of the structural inequities in the global trading system
    ° Mutuality, transparency and public participation in future trade negotiations.
  • The Jubilee principle of a fresh start, to include:
    ° Immediate cancellation of the external debt of the poorest countries ° Substantial debt reduction for heavily indebted middle-income countries ° The establishment of an independent and fair debt arbitration mechanism for current and future loans, which will promote ethical lending and borrowing policies.
  • The principle of democratization of the international financial system, to include:
    ° Strengthening ECOSOC's capacity to exercise its responsibility in the domains of development, economics, finance, trade, and social policy
    ° Democratizing the decision-making processes within the Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO
    ° Establishing within the UN system a global forum on taxation to study and propose new forms of taxation and support national efforts to counteract excessive tax competition and tax evasion.

    Real value cannot be expressed in monetary terms, nor can life - and that which is essential to sustain it - be commodified. To "remake the world" and tackle growing inequality, concentration of power, and social exclusion, a people-centred approach to financing for development is required. To the implementation of these principles and goals the ecumenical community stays engaged and committed.