Jeanne Mirer, IADL President
To answer this question, we must describe in broad terms the dominant features of the current Undemocratic International Economic Order so as to make a clear contrast.
1. The current undemocratic international economic order is a neo-liberal economic order. It is an economic order dominated by large multinational corporations which seek “liberalization” of laws protecting people in order to promote economies based on the market rather than human rights and needs of people, which includes the right to a healthy environment. The main pillars of the neo-liberal economic order are: (1) deregulation of corporate activities including financial services, (2) privatization of public services such as education and prisons etc.; (3) de-unionization of the workforce; (4) casualization of the workforce with precarious workers i.e temporary, contingent or contract workers; and (5) free trade agreements aimed at protecting direct foreign investments by corporations.
2. The current undemocratic international economic order uses international financial institutions to force countries to “liberalize” their economies according to these neo-liberal principles in order to secure loans; the result is that these countries incur huge debt.
3. The current undemocratic international economic order has resulted in massive transfers of wealth upwards into to fewer and fewer wealthy hands within countries and between countries. The result has been growing inequalities in both developed and developing countries. Despite significant growth rates in developing countries, there has been a corresponding growth in inequalities. The undemocratic international economic order has resulted in massive public debts owed to international financial institutions and private investors, especially by countries in the South. The resulting unrest among the people who are opposed to this undemocratic international economic order is dealt with by repression using, among other things, anti-terrorist laws that many countries passed or imposed after 9-11.
4. The current undemocratic international economic order is also characterized by massive militarization, particularly by the United States and the NATO countries. This militarization reflects a powerful corporate military industrial complex and a foreign policy based on military intervention in countries which possess resources the United States and the western former colonial powers and their major corporations seek to exploit.
5. The current undemocratic international economic order is dominated by media corporations which promote celebrity and spectacles as news and do not seek to educate the people about the nature of the undemocratic international economic order.
6. The current undemocratic international economic order exploits differences between people based on class, race, gender, religion, and citizenship status, and other characteristics in order to divert attention away from the fact that these divisions are a result of and exacerbated by the current undemocratic international economic order.
7. Most importantly, the current undemocratic international economic order is characterized by a both an ignorance of and lack of respect for law and legal obligations, especially international law and international human rights (including labor) law and growing impunity for violating international law. The UN Charter, which prohibits aggressive war and seeks to promote disarmament, has been flaunted by superpowers, especially the United States. Wars of aggression have been fought by superpowers without accountability. Corporations are engaging in illegal land grabbing and other illegal actions in developing countries without accountability.
Although these features of the undemocratic international economic order are currently dominant, the movements for a democratic international economic order have not been silent. They have not, however, been unified, and where they have come together they have often been repressed.
Nonetheless, based on the features of an undemocratic international economic order the features of a new democratic international economic order would include the following characteristics and promote the following rights:
1. The right to economies which are democratically controlled, either through democratic control of private corporations or state run enterprises which have as their core mission the creation of an international and social order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can be fully realized. (Article 28 of the UDHR).
2. The right to participate in democratic social movements which promote public services to meet the needs of the people; respect for the rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining, so that workers may protect their economic and social interests; and the promote market regulation that secures equitable distribution of wealth and an end to discrimination based on gender, race, class, religion or citizenship status etc.
3. The promotion of the rights in Human Rights Council Resolution 8/5 for the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, such as the human right to peace, self-determination, and the right to equitable participation in all domestic and global decision-making.
4. Democratic control or replacement of International Financial Institutions to the end that illegal debts should be canceled and lending is based on meeting human peoples’ needs rather than promoting interests of private investors.
5. A democratic international economic order would work to convert military spending to peaceful endeavors, and promote disarmament.
6. A democratic international economic order would end impunity for crimes and promote respect for international law, including human rights law and humanitarian law.
The United Nations Charter is based on the peoples’ rights. The Charter declares “We the Peoples of the United Nations” resolve … The Charter has at its core the promotion of the fundamental indivisible human rights of all people to civil and political rights, as well as economic, social and cultural rights, as the basis for promoting social progress and peace.
The peoples of the world must begin plans for the new democratic international economic order.