Wednesday, September 23, 2009

USHRN Statement on the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Group of 20 (G20) Summit is steaming rolling through Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania September 24th and 25th. Led by the United States, the G20 members are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the European Union. The Pittsburgh Summit, like all the G20 proceedings, is a closed-door session of the finance ministers and central bank governors of the aforementioned nations. The declared objectives of the summit are to end the financial and economic crisis that is ravaging the peoples of the world and lay a foundation to address climate change. The question must be asked, how do the economic elite of 20 nations decide the fate of the all the inhabitants of the earth? Who appointed them to carry out this monumental task?

The G20 is a self-appointed group. It is the outgrowth of the G6, which was initiated by the United States in the 1970’s as an exclusive club of the worlds richest and most powerful nations to promote “free trade” and monitor world financial flows. The G6 expanded to become the G20 when the G8 (an antecedent of the G6) was forced to recognize the economic strength of China, India, and Brazil and that of other “emerging market” nations of the world.

At its core, the G20 is an institutional reflection of the interdependent systems of inequality – sexism, colonialism, capitalism, and imperialism - that structure the modern world system. The power of the G20 to determine the financial and economic reality for all the 192 recognized member nations of the UN reinforces and perpetuates these relationships of subordination and domination.

The US Human Rights Network (USHRN) condemns the G20 processes which are neither transparent, accountable, nor democratic. They perpetuate the relationships of subordination and domination that systematically deny the human rights of the majority of world’s people. We maintain that the proper forum and mediating body to resolve the world’s financial and economic crisis is the United Nations (UN). Although the financial, economic, and climate crisis were not created by the developing nations of the Global South, the nations of the Global South have been disproportionately effected. Therefore, as a matter of principle, all of the world’s nations should have equal say in their resolution.

The citizens and residents of each nation-state – including those of the United States - must also have a direct say in the mediating processes aimed at resolving the financial, economic, and climatic crises. The US Human Rights Network demands that the United States government fulfill its obligations to citizen participation and transparency in determining its crisis resolution policies. To advance this process, the US Human Rights Network is demanding that the US government comply with following recommendations and processes to ensure that the fundamental human rights of its citizens and residents are duly protected :
1. Channel resources towards protecting rights, not shielding wealth. Revisit tax cuts and the money being used to bail out financial institutions. Increase transparency and accountability to ensure that the funds are being used to prevent the retrogression of rights, not simply the realization of profits.
2. Provide more federal funds to state and local government to prevent cuts to education, health, and core social services. Revisit the need for greater stimulus as the impact on state and local budgets becomes clear.
3. Stop foreclosures – implement a real rescue package for residential housing.
4. Monitor job creation associated with the recovery to ensure that jobs are of decent quality and employment opportunities are equitably distributed. Shift priorities and create new programs to include women and people of color.
5. Introduce a comprehensive set of regulations for the financial sector as a whole. Make sure that prudential safeguards are introduced to prevent future crises. Balanced regulation, not biased regulation.
6. Conduct a national audit of fiscal policy practices of state and local governments to determine which policy decisions (e.g. tax cuts) have reduced available resources and therefore made spending so sensitive to economic cycles. Reform tax systems to prevent similar cuts during future downturns.
7. Recognize that health care is a human right and not a commodity to sell for profit.
8. Extend unemployment insurance, disability benefits, and support to low-income households to help maintain a minimal standard of living.
9. Democratize the Federal Reserve System to improve public participation and hold public and private actors accountable for policy decisions which risk threatening human rights.

The US Human Rights Network calls on all its members and supporters to adopt these demands. We call on everyone to contact the Obama administration and demand that it fulfills its human rights obligations and adheres to these policies and processes.

We also encourage all our members to stand in solidarity with the global civil society movement opposing the G20 and its inhuman policies and undemocratic processes. We must defend the peoples’ right to be heard as we struggle to build the just world we all so desperately need.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kali Akuno
USHRN Director of Education, Training, and Field Operations

For information and updates on the Civil Society resistance to the G20 visit:
1. The Bailout the People’s Movement
2. Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
3. The Pittsburgh G20 Media Project
4. Pittsburgh G20 Resistance Project
5. Pittsburgh United

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