"Trade, Finance for Development and Africa". Recommendations of the Forum on the meeting of the heads of G8 countries in St. Petersburg in July 2006
Over 300 members of civil society organizations from around the world met in Moscow as part of the Civil G8 process, in preparation for the G8 Summit in St Petersburg. We expressed our solidarity for those living in poverty in the developing world, in many of the transition economies, and in Russia itself.
The Civil society organizations declared the G8 needs to ensure that trade rules and financial development serve sustainable development and protect, fulfill and respect environmental, social and human rights, as well as fundamental labour rights stipulated in the ILO standards.
The present approach to trade liberalization and financing for development undermines human rights and increases the unsustainable consumption, and pollution, of natural resources. We endorse a ‘trade justice’ approach to the setting of trade rules in order to put people and the planet first.
Developing countries must have the right to determine their own economic and public policies. The G8 must state that developing countries will be given sufficient flexibility and policy space to meet their development needs and national interests, including protection of small farmers, infant industries and the delivery of basic services.
The problem of marginalizing the roles of parliaments and congresses needs to be redressed. At present, these bodies do not have the right to approve, modify or reject proposals associated with grant and loan agreements. In many countries grants and loans constitute a large share, even the majority, of development finance. The G8 must declare that the practice of marginalizing representative bodies in these decisions must end.
We call for the democratic deficit in WTO to be addressed immediately by the G8. This would include a proper democratic review of trade agreements by parliaments; and increasing the capacity and participation of developing countries, and economies in transition, in trade negotiations using impartial advice.
We believe civil society should enjoy the same level of participation in the WTO as it does in the UN and request the G8 support this.
We believe that the TRIPs (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights agreement) is a barrier for poor peoples’ right to essential medicines. The G8 must declare the protection of the right to health a fundamental human right, and therefore we call for more flexibility for developing countries, and countries in transition, in the TRIPs. Furthermore, fundamentally we believe that basic services (health care, education, water and electricity) should not be dealt with by the WTO and urge the G8 to support this proposition.
The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), particularly as it pertains to trade in basic services, is a source of concern for civil society. Governments which make commitments to liberalize these sectors effectively bar their future participation in the governance, and guarantees, of services required to fulfill human rights obligations. The G8 should declare that these sectors should be carved out of the GATS.
The G8 must declare that all countries, when negotiating their WTO membership, should not be charged with WTO-plus obligations or other non-favorable for national development conditions. The G8 must also declare that economies in transition should be allowed to enjoy the same flexibilities (in particularly, special and differential treatment) as developing countries and, in some cases, least developed countries.
While the developed countries continue to provide significant support for their own agricultural production, they have withdrawn most of their support for commodity production in developing countries. Given the reliance of the G8 on commodities from developing countries, the G8 should provide better access to northern markets for developing countries and support mechanisms to increase the income of developing countries arising out of commodity production. Effective instruments for protecting small scale farmers in developing countries should be created to provide, in particularly, food security.
The G8 should support infrastructure development that promotes south-south trade.
The G8 should increase its support to enable access to basic services in Africa, in particular for poor and marginalized people, in order to contribute to the fulfillment of social and human rights.
As representatives of international civil society we advocate for the reaffirmation of some of the positive commitments made in the G8 Action Plan for Africa, made at the Gleneagles Summit. We call on the G8 to honor these commitments and commit to the implement the recommendations set out in this document to end poverty in Africa
As Russia co-chairs the Africa Partnership Forum (APF) High-Level meetings this year, the Russian government should increase the profile of the APF by encouraging G8 country representation at Ministerial level.
To maximize input into the G8 process and the Africa Partnership Forum (APF), we recommend a permanent and coordinated mechanism for civil society engagement with the G8 and APF. The terms of civil society engagement should be defined by African civil society groups themselves in conjunction with their international partners.
Given the value of remittances home from African Diaspora and other developing country diasporas and their significant contribution to poverty alleviation, the G8 should support mechanisms to waive commissions and taxes paid on these remittances. In addition, the money transfer sector should be regulated to ensure that their exploitative tariffs and rates are reduced or else channeled into a development fund targeted at the recipient countries.
Financing for Development
Debt cancellation is an essential foundation for trade justice. We call on the G8 to support the following proposals:
• The HIPC initiative must be deepened since at present, beneficiaries are not achieving debt sustainability; and it must be broadened to include more countries handicapped by debt, including some of the former USSR countries.
• Resources for debt cancellation should be additional to the official development assistance (ODA) currently allocated for these countries.
• Debt cancellation should not carry policy conditions, particularly those related to the human rights obligations of countries, e.g., promotion of sustainable development, food security and the delivery of basic services, such as health care, education, water and electricity.
On the issue of aid, the G8 should:
• Support initiatives for innovative financing such as the IFF, the tax on the air tickets and the regulation of money transfer agencies.
• Support the re-imbursement of the commission and tax on remittance payment and regulation
• Review progress to meet the aid target of an extra $50 billion by 2010, confirm that all G8 countries are on track to meet the 2010 target, and announce that those G8 countries that have yet to agree a binding timetable to reach 0.7% GNI on development assistance will now do so.
• Review progress on the commitments to give half of all ODA increases to Sub Saharan Africa
The G8 made specific promises on education and health in 2005 that need to be delivered. The G8 should review progress towards achieving the education MDGs and in particular agree to fully fund their share of the Education For All FTI. The G8 should also review progress to reach the target for universal treatment for HIV/AIDS by 2010 and agree to fully fund their share of the Global Health Fund. Given the poor quality of health systems in many developing and transition countries, the G8 must also commit to the abolition of health user fees and to invest in health systems of these countries.
The 2005 G8 communiqué also stated donors should be held to account for full implementation of the Paris Declaration of Aid Effectiveness made in February 2005. The G8 must agree the means to hold donors accountable for the implementation of the Paris Declaration, and to end policy conditionality on aid including tied aid
The G8 must pledge to ensure they enforce legislation to curb capital flight that represents the illegal transfer of funds from developing countries. The G8 must also address the inappropriate use of off-shore banks that enable corporations to evade their financial responsibilities to host countries.
The G8 should take firm steps to implement mandatory codes of conduct that ensure responsibility by private enterprise. At the same time, good governance is an important aspect to addressing building stable and secure societies. We support all countries ratifying and implementing the provisions in the UN Convention of Corruption, and support the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.