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Monterrey Consensus document fails to provide mechanisms to eradicate poverty

14 March 2002

Monterrey Consensus document fails to provide mechanisms to eradicate poverty

cf. WCC Press Feature, Feat-01-18, of 24 October 2001

The World Council of Churches (WCC) is deeply concerned that the forthcoming International Conference on Financing for Development, to be held in Monterrey, Mexico, 18-22 March, could be another example of a United Nations forum being dominated by the neo-liberal policies of the World Trade Organization, World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

The Monterrey Consensus Document to be adopted at the conference is uncritical of the neo-liberal economic model which, "holds out no real hope for eliminating or even reducing poverty, but rather continues to exacerbate it," says a statement released by the WCC to mark the opening of the Monterrey conference.

The WCC statement emphasizes that a people-centred approach to financing for development is essential. "The WCC flatly rejects such economic models as being contrary to the notion of economic equity sought by Christians....The document is not explicit either on control of financial markets or on the promotion of equity and human rights as factors in world trade."

The WCC is part of a 30-member ecumenical team which has monitored all the conference's preparatory committees and which will be present in Monterrey.

The WCC general secretary, Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser, has said that the Monterrey international conference will be a decisive test of the political will of the governments in Europe and North America to implement "all the fine declarations of intent during recent encounters, including this year's meeting of the World Economic Forum in New York". "Further weakening of the commitments and concrete actions to fully justified expectations will constitute a threat to credible global governance," he said.

The WCC has previously criticized the approach of the International Financial Institutions (IFIs). During the June 2000 World Summit on Social Development, Raiser wrote to UN secretary-general Kofi Annan that "the policies (of the IFIs) have not only failed to bridge the gap between the rich and poor and achieve greater equality, but rather contributed to the widening gap."

For the Monterrey Conference, the WCC has called on UN member states to give serious consideration to three major points:

  • the elimination of structural inequalities in the global trading system and the establishment of mutuality, transparency and public participation in future negotiations;

The WCC and the ecumenical team will be in Monterrey to remind the International Conference that financing for development is a matter of justice. It has not been seen that way so far. "We hear only of the articulation of policies which enable transnational corporations to take centre stage," says Dr Rogate Mshana, WCC staff member on economic issues. "We oppose the philosophy that poverty eradication is best addressed through greater markets managed by transnational corporations or international financial institutions," he said.

As well as the participants invited by the WCC, members of the ecumenical team include representatives from the Latin American Council of Churches, the Anglican Communion, the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church (USA), the United Church of Christ (USA), the Roman Catholic religious order, the Sisters of Mercy and the International Shinto Foundation. The team members are from Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Ecuador, El Salvador, Bolivia, Argentina, Panama, Mexico, Germany, Belgium, Norway, Czech Republic, Canada, Japan, India and Samoa.

The delegation is staying at the Casa Inn Son Mar Hotel, 1211 Ave Alfonso Reyes, Monterrey, as from 15 March; telephone: (+52.8) 1.83.75.44.00.

Mobile telephone of Dr Rogate Mshana in Monterrey as from 17 March is: (+52) 82.10.39.73.

For more information, documents and press releases on the WCC presence at the Monterrey Conference consult: www.wcc/what/jpc/monterrey-e.html