Communique From The People's Summit

Halifax, Nova Scotia, June 16, 1995

People or profits, jobs or food banks, hope or despair. These are the stark choices facing the G7 leaders at the Halifax Summit, June 15-17, 1995.

Unemployment amid recovery, environmental crisis, racial divisions, the war in Bosnia: all are symptoms of the abject failure of our global institutions. In Naples last year, the G7 leaders promised to review these institutions to "ensure ... prosperity and security." Their failure to recommend real action is endangering both, and preventing change which can develop a local and global economy which restores and supports life.

Fundamental reform has never been so urgent. The policies of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization are having devastating consequences on our lives. Those in the South are increasingly marginalized and insecure; Canadians are reeling from cutbacks and job loss; workers in G7 countries are scrambling for diminishing work. And indigenous people, people of colour, and women bear the weight of the financial gains of the few. It is time to put the G7 "rich men's club" back into the hands of the people of the world.

The present economic system is demonstrably failing to provide for people, failing to measure the pressures on people and the planet, failing to lift the burden of debt on nations and individuals, failing to nurture cultural diversity, failing to protect people from an increasingly unwieldy and uncontrolled financial system--and failing to exercise the world leadership they claim.

Human security is the empowerment of women, the recognition of ancient knowledge of the world's indigenous peoples, the absence of all forms of racism, the end of nuclear weapons, the absence of violence in the lives of women, the absence of fear because of sexual orientation or choice, the end of the exploitation of nature and a world where differences in ability are seen as positive.

This failure to provide for people is unforgivable. But the solutions are in the hands--not just of the G7 leaders--but of us all, if we work together to dismantle the old economic mythology and move from learned helplessness to actively create a new global order. Power structures can be changed. We recognize the skills, insights, ways of knowing, forms of communication and resistance, and profound friendships and relations amongst people everywhere working for a better world.

Participants in the Halifax People's Summit call for:

1. immediate halt to the French program on nuclear testing in the South Pacific, and specific and concrete actions to eliminate the nuclear arms industry

2. acknowledgement that transnational corporations have acquired colossal power to determine the fate of the earth. The world the people desire and the world the transnationals want are radically divergent. There needs to be measurable improvements in the lives of ordinary people.

3. a changed relationship among government, business and the people. People, through an authentic process of democracy, must regain control over business and commerce

4. transnational corporations, with no allegiance to any single nation, must demonstrate a long term commitment to human development, justice, and the environment. They must be accountable to the people of all nations

5. affirmation that social security reform will not be imposed on peoples in the developed or developing countries. All constituencies, be they First Nations, peoples of colour or women, must join as equal partners with federal and provincial governments in debates about fiscal restraints, allocation of resources and social reform. The forced relocation of a community, such as Africville, must not happen again

6. affirmation of the rights of workers to have meaningful input into their work lives, through the right to form unions and bargain collectively with their employers, including the right to strike

7. removal of the Cuban blockade, and rejection of the United States direct interference in legitimate trade between Cuba and other nation states

8. fundamental review of the policies and projects of the Bretton Woods Institutions. Financial, social and ecological risks of global financial institutions must be assessed through democratic consultation with popular organizations and the governments of all countries. The People's Summit recommends:

(i) a tax to curb speculation in foreign currency (known as the Tobin tax). A stable exchange rate would create a more stable world 
(ii) a moratorium on lending for environmentally and socially destructive projects 
(iii) cancellation of crushing third world debt 
(iv) a general reduction of interest rates since we recognize that high rates of interest mostly benefit the bankers, and the introduction of effective tax rates on the wealthy and corporations 
(v) a halt to "structural adjustment programmes" (SAPs). SAPs deepen poverty, undermine food security and self-reliance and lead to unsustainable resource exploitation 

9. recognition that it is no accident that coloured people of the world are the ones disadvantaged by the policies of the G7 and primarily white governments of the world. Racism is institutionalized; it is impossible to separate fiscal policy choices from racist outlooks in countries of the North

10. full recognition and protection of women's human rights, including freedom from actual or threatened violence, and control over their economic and political lives

11. reduction of inequalities of power and income along gender, race, class and ability lines

12. affirmation that we urgently need to formulate restorative economic concepts and institutions centred on ecological principles and human needs. The collapse of the Atlantic cod fishery is but one glaring instance of corporate and government exploitation of one of the world's richest resources. Support for cooperatives, green enterprises and the not-for-profit sector is to be encouraged

13. elimination of the production and sale of military weapons by G7 countries; the reduction of military conflict and increase in peaceful settlement of disputes, and the development of science and technologies that enhance life rather than death

14. the introduction of life, not business, as the centre of the educational agenda in all settings where children, youth and adults learn about our damaged world, and how it can be renewed. 

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