As hundreds of thousands of people around the world prepare to take to the streets this weekend as part of a global call for change, the International ‘Global Spring’ Assembly – an international and inter-movement assembly formed of supporters of Occupy, Take the Square and Latin American, African, Asian and Middle Eastern social movements – has released its first statement describing concrete suggestions for a ‘global change’.
The statement – the Global May Manifesto – calls for systemic change in the global economy: the radical democratisation of international institutions like the IMF, BIS and UN; the replacement of the G8/20 with a democratic UN assembly; a system of global taxation on financial transactions; and for the abolition of tax havens. It does not represent the position of any local or city assembly; rather it is offered for their consideration.
Endorsed by consensus on 4 May 2012 by the International Assembly, this statement has been in development since January 2012. It was a process that has seen thousands of people from six continents and hundreds of cities participating in the discussion and planning for the international days of protests this month – particularly focusing on the 1, 12, 15 and 18 May. These International Assembly meetings have been convened in bi-weekly assemblies, over an online VoIP platform (called Mumble, which enables mass conference calls and give the assembly its formal name – the International General Assembly on Mumble).
The process for developing this global manifesto – which is a work in progress – started by collecting statements from the different local and city assemblies, then merging these into a common statement. Individuals were then invited to make new proposals through a public website and a number of mailing lists that are used for international inter-movement communication.
Alvaro Rodriguez, 31, of the Indignados movement in Spain, who participated in the process of writing the statement, said: “This is the beginning of a new global process of bringing the opinions of many people around the world together. It represents the beginnings of a form of global democracy in its infancy which is direct and participatory – of the people, by the people and for the people. While the statement does not represent the position of local and city assemblies, the next step is to present it to assemblies around the world for consideration, discussion and revisions, as part of a dialogue of the ‘Global Spring’ movements taking place across six continents.”
Next steps for international coordination
Individuals around the world are invited to participate in this process of further developing this global manifesto through their local and city assemblies, through the facebook group and through the website.
Global May Manifesto
The statement below does not speak, or claim to speak, on behalf of everyone in the global spring/Occupy/Take the Square movements. This is an attempt by some inside the movements to reconcile statements written and endorsed in the different assemblies around the world. The process of writing the statement was consensus based, open to all, and regularly announced on our international communications platforms, that are also open to all (e.g. the ‘squares’ mailing list, the weekly global roundtables and the ‘international’ facebook group). It was a long and difficult process, full of compromises. This statement is offered to peoples’ assemblies around the world for discussions, revisions and endorsements.
There will be a process of a global dialogue, and this statement is part of it, a work-in-progress. We do not make demands from governments, corporations or parliament members, which some of us see as illegitimate, unaccountable or corrupt. We speak to the people of the world, both inside and outside our movements. We want another world, and such a world is possible:
[1.] The economy must be put to the service of people’s welfare, and to support and serve the environment, not private profit. We want a system where labour is appreciated by its social utility, not its financial or commercial profit. Therefore, we demand:
- Free and universal access to health, education from primary school through higher education and housing for all human beings, through appropriate policies to get this. We reject outright the privatization of public services management, and the use of these essential services for private profit.
- Full respect for children’s rights, including free child care for everyone.
- Retirement pensions so we may have dignity at all ages. Mandatory universal sick leave and holiday pay.
- Every human being should have access to an adequate income for their livelihood, so we ask for work or, alternatively, universal basic income guarantee.
- Corporations should be held accountable for their actions. For example, corporate subsidies and tax cuts should be done away with if a company outsources jobs to decrease salaries, harms the environment or the rights of workers.
- Apart from bread, we want roses. Everyone has the right to enjoy culture, participate in a creative and enriching leisure in service of the progress of humankind. Therefore, we demand the progressive reduction of working hours, without reducing income.
- Food sovereignty through sustainable farming should be promoted as an instrument of food security for the benefit of all. This should include an indefinite moratorium on the production and marketing of GMOs and immediate reduction of agrochemical use.
- We demand policies that function under the understanding that our changing patterns of life should either be organic/ecological or else not occur. These policies should be based on a simple rule: one should not spoil the balance of ecosystems for profit. Violations of this policy should be prosecuted around the world as an environmental crime, with severe sanctions for convicted.
- Policies to promote the change from fossil fuels to renewable energy, through massive investment which should help to change the production model.
- We demand the creation of international environmental standards, mandatory for countries, companies, corporations, and individuals. Ecocide (willful damage to the environment, ecosystems, biodiversity) should be internationally recognised as a crime of the greatest magnitude.
[2.] To achieve these objectives, we believe that the economy should be run democratically at all levels, from local to global. People must get democratic control over financial institutions, transnational corporations and their lobbies. To this end, we demand:
- Control and regulation of financial speculation by abolishing tax havens, and establishing a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT). As long as they exist, the IMF, World Bank and the Basel Committee on Banking Regulation must be radically democratised. Their duty from now on should be fostering economic development based on democratic decision making. Rich governments cannot have more votes because they are rich. International institutions must be controlled on the principle that each human is equal to all other humans – African, Argentinean or American; Greek or German.
- As long as they exist, radical reform and democratisation of the global trading system and the World Trade Organization must take place. Commercialization of life and resources, as well as wage and trade dumping between countries must stop.
- We want democratic control of the global commons, defined as the natural resources and economic institutions essential for proper economic management. These commons are: water, energy, air, telecommunications and a fair and stable economic system. In all these cases, decisions must be accountable to citizens and ensure their interests, not the interests of a small minority or financial elite.
- As long as social inequalities exist, taxation at all levels should maintain the principle of solidarity. Those who have more should contribute to maintain services for collective welfare. Maximum income should be limited, and minimum income set to reduce the outrageous social divisions in our societies and their social political and economic effects.
- No more money to rescue banks. As long as debt exists, following the examples of Ecuador and Iceland, we demand a social audit of the debts owed by countries. Illegitimate debt owed to financial institutions should not be paid.
- An absolute end to fiscal austerity policies that benefit only a minority, and cause great suffering to the majority.
- As long as banks exist, separation of commercial and financial banks, avoiding banks “too big to fail”.
- End of the legal personhood of corporations. Companies cannot be elevated to the same level of rights as people. The public’s right to protect workers, citizens and the environment should prevail over protection of private property or investment.
[3.] We believe that political systems must be fully democratic. We therefore demand full democratization of international institutions, and the elimination of the veto power of a few governments. We want a political system which really represents the variety and diversity of our societies:
- All decisions affecting all mankind should be taken in democratic forums like a participatory and direct UN Parliamentary Assembly or a UN people’s assembly, not rich clubs such as G20 or G8.
- At all levels we ask for the development of a democracy that is as participatory as possible, including non representative direct democracy.
- As long as they are practiced, electoral systems should be as fair and representative as possible, avoiding biases that distort the principle of proportionality.
- We call for the democratization of access to and management of media (MSM). These should serve to educate the public, as opposed to the creation of an artificial consensus about unjust policies.
- We ask for democracy in companies and corporations. Workers, regardless of wage level or gender, should have real decision-making power in the companies and corporations they work in. We want to promote cooperative companies and corporations, as real democratic economic institutions.
- Zero tolerance of corruption in economic policy. We must stop the excessive influence of big business in politics, which is today a major threat to true democracy.
- We demand complete freedom of expression, assembly and demonstration, as well as the cessation of attempts to censor the Internet.
- We demand respect for privacy rights on and off the internet. Companies and the government should not engage in data mining.
- We believe that military spending is politically counterproductive to a society’s advance, so we demand its reduction to a minimum.
- Ethnic, cultural and sexual minorities should have their civil, cultural, political and economic rights fully recognized.
- Some of us believe a new Universal Declaration of Human Rights, fit for the 21st century, written in a participatory, direct and democratic way, needs to be written. As long as the current Declaration of Human Rights defines our rights, it must be enforced in relation to all – in both rich and poor countries. Implementing institutions that force compliance and penalize violators need to be established, such as a Global Court to prosecute social, economic and environmental crimes perpetrated by governments, corporations and individuals. At all levels – local, national, regional and global – new constitutions for political institutions need to be considered, like in Iceland or in some Latin American countries. Justice and law must work for all, otherwise justice is not justice, and law is not law.
This is a worldwide Global Spring. We will be there in May 2012; we will fight until we win. We will not stop being people. We are not numbers. We are free women and men.
For a Global Spring!
For global democracy and social justice!
Take to the streets on May 2012!