Statement by the
“Cardinal Van Thuân International Network”
on the occasion of this year’s G8
Underway over the last few years has been a substantial crisis of the model of global governance of the economy and finance founded on institutions that were either unable or unwilling to delve deeply into the issues of development, fair competition, and tax evasion. In fact, affirmed on one hand have been new “fora of power” – such as, for example, the G7/G8 – where there is a real possibility of having an impact on political and economic developments on this planet, while, on the other hand, the attributions of the United Nations and its agencies have lost much of the influence and effectiveness they have on paper.
During an economic and financial phase of blatant crisis when under discussion and review are the selfsame foundations of the dominant model of development, it appears essential to take a close and critical look at the mechanisms of global governance so they may implement not just stopgap measures needed to defend the status quo – and all its evident inequalities – but rather a new policy pursuing human development.
In this sense it is necessary to look with attention and hopefulness upon preparations for the G8 meeting scheduled to take place this July on La Maddalena Island (Italy), and in particular the meeting of the G20 due to take place in London at the very beginning of April.
A renewed global governance of the economy – as well as taxation and finance – must necessarily originate from three fundamental principles: responsibility, solidarity and subsidiarity .
In the light of evidence during the first part of this III millennium, clamorously timely are the prophetic words of Paul VI in Populorum Progressio : “Humanity is advancing along the path of history like the waves of a rising tide encroaching gradually on the shore. We have inherited from past generations and we have benefited from the work of our contemporaries: for this reason we have obligations towards all, and we cannot refuse to interest ourselves in those who will come after us to enlarge the human family” (n°17).
Therefore, the governance of the global economy must begin from individual and community mutual responsibilities so often disregarded in the itineraries of economic growth embarked upon by many countries now considered to be developed: responsibility towards economic systems having made less progress, towards the poorest of the poor, towards new generations, etc.
Responsibility which means consideration for the interdependence of action undertaken by the “big nations” with respect to global equilibrium, but also with respect to the equilibrium proper to other countries. A clear stand was taken in this sense by the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who, during his official visit to Benedict XVI, wrote the following in the Osservatore Romano: “This crisis has shown us that we cannot permit problems to worsen in one country, because the echo of their impact will be felt by one and all. It is therefore our common duty to see to it that the requirements of the poorest countries do not become secondary considerations embraced out of moral compulsion or feelings of guilt. The time has come to see developing countries included in the international solutions we need. And it is fundamental for these international solutions to take developing countries into consideration”. This is an ethical imperative, but it is likewise an economic opportunity. As Sollicitudo rei socialis sustains, the poor are a resource to be enhanced and not a burden to be shouldered. The failure of economic-financial policy relative to development and the fight against poverty will remain much of a failure if it is not based on the principle of responsibility.
Hand in hand with this, governance must then be reformulated through a larger democratic participation in decision-making processes – and hence responsibility as well – of all actors and stakeholders: the governments of developed countries, the major international financial institutions and international organizations, as well as the governments of developing countries, professional organizations of workers and entrepreneurs, and all the way to the full involvement of civil society. New rights to participate can be called only after the assumption of the duty to respect human rights and democracy.
Delicate indeed are the issues on the table because they involve not only the regulation of the international market of finance and related products – a problem as urgent as it is delicate – but also the inclusion of the less developed countries in international commercial circuits, fair international competition that would put an end to phenomena of speculation on the cost of labor and working conditions, transparent access to capital and financial product markets, or, in other words, a revisiting of so-called tax havens, the reduction of the volatility of capital whereby poor countries finance rich ones, and the battle against corruption. The recovery includes all this, and all this is unfeasible if it is not done together with the poor countries. Working for them means working for everyone.
During times as critical as these, international organizations and individual nations must do their own part, ever mindful of the need, however, for their endeavors to pursue the revival of subsidiarity. This does not preclude “providing aid”, and indeed so requires, but always with the end purpose of enhancing active participation and involvement at the grassroots level. Participation such as this constitutes the basic assumption for authentic human development, and this in economic terms as well. The risk inherent in sudden and ill pondered decisions to set public accounts aright is that of a ‘domino effect’ all the way down to the existential conditions of smaller scale expressions and realities of daily life: public administrations are not to download budget cuts on to civil society, but first attend to their own reform; states are only to step in with a spirit of indirect rather than direct replacement; the inclusion of poor countries is to entail the enhancement of their resources, including human resources.
We therefore trust and hope that the current series of international encounters coming to an end at La Maddalena (Italy) this July will ensure well structured linkage between concerns regarding both renewed financial stability and the economic recovery in developed countries and the sense of the Final Declaration of the Doha Conference on development financing held last December, as well as the Note of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace issued on 18 November 2008 precisely with a view to the Doha Conference.
Rt. Rev Giampaolo Crepaldi
CARD. VAN THUÁN INTERNATIONAL NETWORK
International Observatory Cardinal Van Thuân
for the Social Doctrine of the Church Verona (Italy)
Center of Social Catholic Thought, UCSP, Arequipa (Peru)
Paul VI Foundation, Madrid (Spain)