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International people’s tribunal on debt, final judgement

vendredi 31 mai 2002, par Dominique Foufelle

The members of the International Peoples’ Tribunal met in Washington, D.C., on April 18, 2002, to pronounce their Final Sentence in the case against the Debt substantiated in the public hearings held in Porto Alegre, in February, as part of the II World Social Forum. The Sentence draws on the Verdict handed down in Porto Alegre by the members of the Popular Jury, and the absence of any response from those accused for their responsability in the contracting and management of the external debt of South countries. The full text of the Sentence is reproduced below, for your information and dissemination.

Having heard the case for the prosecution, the evidence presented by the witnesses, and the verdict of the jury, and taking into account the silence of the accused who were invited to defend themselves, we the judges elected to this International Peoples’ Tribunal on Debt, declare that the following accused have been found guilty of the crimes detailed below :

1. Governments of the North which over the years have
(a) used non-economic, political, and military means to appropriate and transfer to the North, the economic and ecological wealth of the countries of the South, creating in the process the economic, social and political structures that lead to dependence of the South on capital inflows in general and external debt flows in particular, that have become new and less-transparent forms of further appropriation and transfer of wealth ;
(b) used their economic and military might to support processes that create and perpetuate agencies like the giant international banks, financial institutions and industrial and trading corporations, which in the name of pursuit of profit, have served as agents of transfer of wealth from the South into the hands of the dominant economic interests in the North and ensured the process of debt dependence ;
(c) created multilateral institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and more recently the World Trade Organization, which coordinate and oversee the process of capital transfer, ensure that debt dependence is used as an instrument to put in place neoliberal policies that perpetuate such dependence, and force developing country governments to provide an implicit sovereign guarantee on all accumulated external debt, public and private ;
(d) used coercion to force governments in the South to adopt policies that facilitate the process of illegitimate transfer of wealth.

2. The international banks, financial institutions, industrial corporations and trading houses that are the immediate beneficiaries of the transfer of wealth that debt sustains and served as mechanisms to ensure such transfer in favour of themselves and their collaborators.

3. The multilateral institutions that have served as agencies to foster and sustain debt dependence, coordinate debt and other capital flows and create conditions in the South that facilitate at all cost wealth transfer from the South to the North.

4. Corrupt and dominant social and economic interests and the governments they control in the South that have in their own self-interest collaborated to different degrees with the above accused and used State power in the South to legitimize, facilitate and enforce the above-mentioned mechanisms of wealth transfer mediated through debt.

The verdict of the jury is : (i) that all the accumulated debt of the South to the North is illegitimate and has in fact been paid back many times over ; (ii) that debt dependence, created by the above accused through the means described, leads to economic and political conditions that result in social deprivation that amounts to a creeping process of economic and social genocide ; (iii) besides being reprehensible on moral and humanitarian grounds, is a violation of existing international law as embodied, inter alia, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Covenant 169 of the International Labour Organization on indigenous peoples, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the universally recognized right of peoples to self-determination.

Given the above, the International Peoples’ Tribunal on Debt makes the following declarations :

1. All external debt being illegitimate and nonexistent should be immediately repudiated and cancelled.
2. In return for the wealth illegitimately transferred to the North from the South, the countries of the South should be provided reasonable compensation, to determine the magnitude and manner of payment of which a Global Commission on Debt should be constituted.
3. Since unnatural power is related to unwarranted size and reach, the banks, financial institutions, industrial corporations, landed interests and other economic agents who control assets which give them such power should be broken down and their power curtailed, so that the recurrence of the process of growth of illegitimate debt is foreclosed.
4. International institutions which serve as agents to coordinate, oversee and guarantee debt flows, such as the IMF and the World Bank, should be decommissioned and any residual useful role served by them should be handed over to more democratically-managed international institutions.
5. Neoliberal policy regimes that are designed to sustain and worsen debt and obfuscate the resulting process of economic aggrandizement at one pole and social deprivation at the other should be dismantled, to be replaced by more pro-people and pro-poor policies of development.
6. Besides social mobilization to pressure governments in the North and the South to implement these recommendations, the Tribunal calls on people to use supplementary legal procedures, such as petitions in the International Court of Justice at the Hague, to bring individual instances of violation of individual social and human rights to trial and force governments to implement these recommendations.

April, 18, 2002
Washington, D.C., USA

Judges of the Tribunal :
C.P. Chandrasekhar (India) / Nora Cortiñas (Argentina) / Nawal El Saadawi (Egypt) / Judge Dumisa Ntsebeza (South Africa) / Deputy Loretta Rosales (Philippines) / Bishop Demetrio Valentini (Brazil)

Pour en savoir plus :
International Peoples’ Tribunal on Debt
Secretariat c/o Jubilee South/Americas
Piedras 730 (1070) Buenos Aires – Argentina
Tél./Fax : 5411-4307-1867

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