The Committee for the Cancellation of the Third World Debt
The Committee for the Cancellation of the Third World Debt (the CADTM – Comité pour l’annulation de la dette du Tiers Monde) is an international network of individuals and local committees from across Europe and Latin America, Africa and Asia. It was founded in Belgium on 15th March 1990.
Political Charter of CADTM International (Adopted in Belém in January 2009)
In 1989, “the Bastille appeal” was launched in Paris: it invites all popular forces throughout the world to unite for the immediate and unconditional cancellation of the so called “developing” countries. This crushing debt, along with the neo-liberal macro-economic reforms imposed on the South since the debt crisis of 1982, have created the explosion of inequalities, mass poverty, flagrant injustices and the destruction of the environment. In response to this appeal, and in order to fight against general degradation of living conditions of the majority of the population, the CADTM was created in 1990. Nowadays, CADTM international is a network made up of approximately 30 active organizations in over 25 countries in over 4 continents. Its main function focuses on the debt problem and it involves the creation of radical alternatives aimed at the emergence of a world based on sovereignty, solidarity and cooperation between peoples, respect for the environment, equality, social justice and peace.
Since the creation of the CADTM, the international context has changed. Regarding debt, a significant change needs to be taken into consideration: domestic public debt has dramatically increased. Globally, two main opposing trends are developing on an international scale. On the one hand, the neo-liberal capitalist offensive, mainly lead by the G7, the IMF, the WB and the WTO who work in the interests of multinationals and international financial capital, has become more widespread and entrenched. On the other hand, a counter-trend has been developing since the end of the 1990s: powerful social movements against the neo-liberal offensive, in particular in Latin America have emerged. There has been a strengthening of the international social movements which are fighting for “other possible worlds”. The election of leaders who advocate a break with neo-liberalism, apply initiatives on auditing of debt and the suspension of payments on public external debt, the beginning of total recovery of the State’s control over strategic sectors and on natural resources. There has been the failure of neo-liberal projects such as the ALCA and resistance to imperialism in Iraq, in Palestine and in Afghanistan. The evolution of the power relations between these two opposing trends will largely depend on popular reaction when faced with the international crisis which is multi-faceted (financial, social, political, food, energy, climate, environmental, cultural).
1. Public debt (external and domestic) involves a massive transfer of wealth from the peoples of the South towards the creditors. The local dominant classes pocket their commission within the transfer of this capital. Both in the Northern and Southern hemispheres, debt signifies a transfer of wealth created by employees and small producers to the benefit of capitalists. Debt is used by lenders as an instrument of political and economic domination which establishes a new form of colonialism. Despite their vast natural and human wealth, the people of the South are being bled dry. In the majority of countries in the South, repayment of public debt represents each year, a larger sum of money than is spent on education, health, rural development and creation of employment. The debt relief initiatives in the past years have merely been a fool’s market as there are several harmful conditions imposed on the countries which are meant to be the so-called « beneficiaries ».
2. CADTM’s main objective is the immediate and unconditional cancellation of Third World debt and the abandonment of structural adjustment policies. In order to achieve this objective, CADTM International is working towards achieving the following actions:
- Initiation of procedures through the dissemination of information, raising awareness, organization and actions of indebted peoples.
- Implement debt audits, with citizen participation, with the objective of rejecting all odious and illegitimate debt.
- Unilateral and sovereign decisions made by governments who declare public debt null and void and who stop the repayment of said debt.
- A break in agreements with the IMF and the World Bank.
- Establishment of a united front of countries for the non-payment of debt.
- Recognition of the odious debt doctrine in international law
- Refusal of any conditions imposed by lenders
- Repatriation of assets to the citizens, of the countries of the South, which had been embezzled by corrupt leaders of the South, with the complicity of banks and governments.
- Unconditional payment by the Northern powers to the countries of the South in the name of historic, social and ecological debt accumulated with regard to the countries of the South.
- Legal action against the financial institutions.
- In cases of nationalization of bankrupt private banks, a total recovery of costs coming from the assets of the large shareholders and directors.
- Replacement of the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO by democratic institutions which prioritize the satisfaction of fundamental human rights in the areas of financing development, credit relations and international trade
- Termination of all agreements (economic, political, military etc) which endangers the sovereignty of peoples and perpetuates the mechanism of dependence.
3. For the CADTM, debt cancellation is not an end in itself. It is a necessary condition but it is not enough in order to guarantee the satisfaction of human rights. It is therefore necessary to go beyond the cancellation of public debt if humanity wishes to achieve social justice which respects the environment. Debt forms part of a system which needs to be fought against as a whole. Alongside the cancellation of debt, it is vital to implement other radical alternatives amongst which the:
- Elimination of famine, poverty and inequality
- Guarantee of equality between men and women in all spheres of life
- Implementation of a new financial procedure by restoring strict regulation on capital flow and goods, through the taxation of capital (global taxes, tax on great wealth/ large assets), by removing the secrecy of the banks and through a ban on tax havens, speculation and usury
- The use of public aid for development, exclusively in the form of donations with no conditions attached, from the 1% of Gross domestic product of the most indistrialised countries under the name of « reparation and solidarity tax » When calculating this tax, the cancellation of debt and the sums which do not serve the populations of the South are to be excluded.
- Mobilisation of resources which do not create debt.
- Implementation of alternatives which free humanity from all forms of neocolonial oppression, social oppression, patriarchal oppression, racial oppression, oppression based on caste, political oppression, cultural, sexual and religious oppression
- Implementation of an ambitious environmental policy which aims to restabilize the climate.
- Ensuring the economic, political and food sovereignty of peoples.
- Ban on patenting living beings
- Complete demilitarisation of the planet.
- Guaranteeing the right of movement and settlement of peoples.
- Declaration of the superiority of human rights over commercial law and ensure that governments, international financial institutions and businesses respect the different international instruments, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR, 1948), the Convention on the political rights of women (1952), the International Covenant on economic, social and cultural rights (ICESCR, 1966), The International Covenant on civil and political rights (ICCPR, 1966), the Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination towards women (CEDAW, 1981), the Declaration on the right to development (DRD, 1986), the Convention relating to rights of migrant workers and their families (1990), the Declaration on the defenders of human rights (1998) and the declaration on the rights of native peoples (2007).
- Ensuring of the sovereignty of people on their lives and on their future, which especially means making available to the public natural resources, the results from Research and Development, other common goods of humanity and strategic sectors of the economy.
- Leaving behind of the capitalist system which is based on the search for maximum private profit, growth and individualism, with the aim of creating a society whereby social and environmental needs are at the heart of political choices.
4. In order to achieve these changes and achieve social emancipation, CADTM International believes that it is the people themselves who need to rise to the challenge of change. They must not be freed but must free themselves. Furthermore, experience shows that we must not leave it to privileged minorities to be in charge of the well-being of populations. As confirmed in the Bastille Appeal in 1989 “only the solidarity of peoples will bring economic imperialism to an end. This solidarity does not mean in any circumstance that one should support those regimes which worsen the poverty of their countries, which stifle the voices and rights of peoples” The strengthening of social movements is a priority for the CADTM. It is participating, on an international scale, towards the creation of a large popular movement which is aware, critical and mobilized. Convinced of the need to unite the struggles for emancipation, CADTM International supports all organizations and coalitions which work towards equality, social justice, the conservation of nature and peace.