A Common Sense Citizens' Agenda

by David Korten

exerpted from the book


edited by Kevin Danaher

International Reforms

A number of reforms are required at the global level to remove important sources of injustice and restrain the power of transnational capital. These include:

1) Eliminating international debts of low income countries. The public international debts of low income countries should be eliminated through a two step process. Odious debts contracted without public consent or for purposes that did not serve public purposes should be repudiated through appropriate internationally sanctioned legal processes to pass the costs onto the responsible individuals and financial institutions. The remaining debts should be repaid out of an international fund under agreements that preclude recreating them.

2) Closing the World Bank as part of the plan to end the process of international debt creation. It is time to recognize that creating an institution to increase the debts of poor countries was simply a bad idea.

3) Placing an international financial transactions tax on all spot transactions in foreign exchange to dampen speculative currency movements. The funds generated should be used to retire Third World debt and fund the United Nations.

4) Closing the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and transferring responsibility for international economic management to the United Nations, with the mandate to maintain a balanced and equitable system of economic relationships among nations that encourages and supports substantial environmental and economic self-reliance. Responsibilities would include negotiating and enforcing agreements establishing standards of conduct for transnational corporations, coordinating international antitrust action, and protecting the rights of all nations to choose with whom they will trade, under what terms, and to set rules and standards for businesses operating in their jurisdictions. Decision-making processes should be transparent and open to public participation.

5) Monitor cross border environmental flows. Establish an international monitoring system to report imbalances in flows of environmental resources between countries as a step toward limiting the ability of one country to pass the environmental burdens of its consumption to another.

This is an admittedly full agenda. And it is surely incomplete. There is no simple fix for a system as badly broken as the one we presently have. This list is illustrative of the types of measures that must be considered. There is need for a vigorous public debate toward building a broadly based political consensus in support of comprehensive citizen agendas for national and international reforms adequate to the task of building just and sustainable societies for the new millennium.

exerpted from the book

edited by Kevin Danaher

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