SAAPE Declarations

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June 8, 2009, at 5:38 am
Kathmandu Declaration, 2009
Kathmandu Declaration, 2009Adopted by 3rd General Assembly (2009) of SAAPE We the citizens of South Asia, representatives of civil societies from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, met in the Third General Assembly of the South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication in Kathmandu from 8 to 9 August 2009. This Declaration represents the collective will of the members present to work against neo-liberalism. We embrace sustainable development for the definitive eradication of poverty and the betterment of the lives of all people in the region, particularly those living in poverty and without rights, those suffering injustice and the effects of conflict and discrimination. We call on all governments of the region, and the international community as a whole to unreservedly ensure the universal right of all to life, shelter, social security and livelihood. All the hard won rights must be preserved and built upon. We demand that all governments of the region recognize the global failure of the neo-liberal model to bring equitable development to all. The global economic crisis is symptomatic of the broader failures of commoditisation of the world's resources and exploitation of nature. While we recognise the threat of climate change the solution does not lie in either displacing people from the forest and land, or in international carbon trade. The International Financial Institutions have accentuated land grab and displacement of forest and rural communities, loss of traditional livelihoods and a sharp increase in hunger and farmer suicides. We demand a reversal of neo-liberal economic policies and the restoration of public management and ownership. The restructuring of South Asian economies has led to the loss of millions of jobs and rampant poverty and intensification of poverty in both urban and rural communities. Elitist growth-led economic strategies have reduced possibilities for overall livelihood concerns in economic policy. Neo-liberal policies have led to an attack on democratic struggles including the use of anti-terror laws against people's movements. The states cannot claim impunity since these are in violation of international human rights law. In view of the crushing debt burden there must be cancellation of debt by the IFIs and Northern lenders. South Asian governments must not borrow any more funds from the IFIs. Therefore, we commit here to redoubling our efforts as a united South Asian community to act in solidarity with people's movements in the region- Dalits, indigenous peoples, labour (including migrant workers), fisherfolk, women, peasants, refugees, minorities, displaced peoples, and all other excluded peoples. The access of youth to secure futures must be ensured. Travel within South Asia should be visa free. Our solidarity extends to people and movements worldwide.We demand governments to recognise and support the emerging diverse development alternatives initiated by communities that have successfully incorporated principles of gender justice, ecological sustainability and participatory democracy. Adequate resources must be allocated to implement these alternatives on a national and regional scale. The state must respect, protect and fulfil the basic legal, social and economic rights of all citizens, including food sovereignty.  This will require increased prioritisation of financial resources to this end.The people of South Asia are witness to the increased militarism and militarisation in the region, and the heightened arms race and trade, while poverty and destitution, civilian deaths, and insecurity are on the rise. There is a need for a collective action by South Asian states to combat extremism and to significantly reduce military expenditures.  South Asia should be declared a nuclear-weapons free zone. Security in the region can only be achieved by just and sustainable social and economic development. All disputes between South Asian countries should be resolved by transparent negotiations. The people of South Asia deserve clean and people-friendly governments.We resolve to struggle against all forces that create poverty, conflict and violence. Our governments must fulfil their constitutional obligations to secure peace and social justice.9 August 2009
July 3, 2006, at 12:00 am
Kathmandu Declaration, 2006
Adopted during the 2nd General Assembly of SAAPE (2-3 July 2006)July 3, 2006The Kathmandu Declaration was adopted during the second General Assembly of SAAPE, that took place on 2-3 July 2006 on the theme, “Struggles for Grassroots Democracy: South Asian, Civil Society Perspective.”WE, THE PARTICIPANTS OF THE SECOND GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE SOUTH ASIA ALLIANCE FOR POVERTY ERADICATION (SAAPE), meeting in Kathmandu, Nepal, July 2-3, 2006, felt the energy, excitement and anticipation of the people of Nepal, at this historic and precarious point in their history – Nepal’s recent Jana Aandolan II (people’s movement) for Lokatantra (democracy).Over the two days of meetings, we, the members of SAAPE and observers – a widely representative group of civil society organisations and movements from the eight countries of South Asia, and from Europe – learned from each other, and from the experiences of the Nepal Jana Aandolan, and pledged their solidarity to establish a real and lasting democracy in Nepal.We are committed to the Eradication of Poverty in the Region, and reaffirm the Manesar Declaration adopted in 2000, and the Kathmandu Declaration adopted in 2002. We are inspired by the principles that the courageous people of Nepal have articulated as the foundation principles for a New Nepal. We have also increased our understanding of the difficulties and possibilities in poverty eradication, as a result of sharing the work and conditions in our countries.SAAPE is becoming a platform for a large number of like-minded organisations, movements and persons in the region, who have come together to eradicate poverty and to strengthen grassroots democracy. SAAPE is a socio-political force to work for change and to work with different groups of people in attempts to unite to achieve different goals that are important in the overall struggle to eradicate poverty and protect grassroots democracy.With this understanding, we declare that we will eradicate poverty in South Asia –Realising that poverty and hunger in the region is not natural, but something created and perpetuated by the Global powers of plunder and exploitation, working in collaboration with the elitist regimes in our own countries; we commit ourselves to fight these forces until we take control over our lives, our natural resources, and the right to plan and decide on the use of such resources. We commit ourselves to facilitate the mobilisation of the millions of poor and their organisations to complete the process of the de-legitimisation of the Global financial powers such as the International Financial Institutes (IFIs), and international capital in their self-proclaimed right to set agendas for poverty eradication and development.Realising that “Growth” alone is not the remedy for “Poverty,” neither in rural nor urban areas, neither in the agriculture nor in the industrial sector, and knowing that logically those claim “responsible” for poverty (e.g., WB, IMF and WTO) cannot tell us how to solve the problems of Poverty – their “solutions” so far have only led to the aggravation of poverty all across the region (hundreds of thousands of farmer suicides in India, pauperisation of the peasantry, promotion of the corporate farming model, loss of jobs and labour opportunities); and therefore, we need to struggle with farmers and labourers for establishing and strengthening grassroots democracy, and against labour policies that are exploitative.Realising that a large number of children are engaged in labour work in the region – markets exploit them in the pretext of poverty; we declare that SAAPE will fight against child labour and fight for their right to education.We declare that we will work towards realising food sovereignty and food security for the people of the region, and struggle to create a supportive policy framework – promoting Eco-Agriculture, opposing GM food, and promoting peasant alliances for ensuring food sovereignty.Realising that the forces that/who benefit from the poor remaining poor, are strong, powerful and well-connected, we commit ourselves to a more powerful struggle against the root causes of poverty in the South Asian region. We declare we will not rest peacefully, even if intermediate victories have been won, but will continue to struggle together, as a Regional Alliance, solving problems as we go, until Poverty is eradicated from all of the South Asian countries.Anti-poverty work is often done by people who work on behalf of others, and people living in poverty themselves are often involved as “targets” or “beneficiaries.” We know that there is great strength and ability in the men, women and children living in conditions of hunger and poverty, and we declare that we are committed to all inclusive and participative, including poor men and women, excluded castes and indigenous communities, integrally and strategically in the decision-making and work of SAAPE.Realising that Peace in the region still eludes us– civil strife in Sri Lanka and Afghanistan; growing state repression in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan; and continuing repression in Bhutan -we declare that the members of SAAPE will support each other in the struggles for peace. The problems are many – Bhutanese refugees feel unable to return to their homes in Bhutan, state repression in India in Gujarat and other states by religious fundamentalist political groups, and the use of military power by the South Asian governments to suppress movements and struggles of indigenous citizens for their political and economic rights. The people want peace and democracy in the region; national and international governments in many cases do not. SAAPE will work with the people in reinstating peace and democracy.Realising that the continuing Indo-Pakistani conflict over Kashmir is a serious obstacle to both peace and grassroots democracy in the region, and realising that the enormous defence budgets of both countries deprive the poor of their countries of needed health, education, food security, etc., we declare that SAAPE will do everything possible to mobilise its members, along with others in the region working for peace and justice for the Kashmiri people, to pressure the two governments to resolve the conflict in accordance with the wishes and needs of the Kashmiri people.Realising that poor governance, the absence of free and fair elections, and violence of the rule of law undermines genuine democracy in the region, we declare that SAAPE will work through its members by advocacy and public awareness, to bring about true democracy and democratic processes in the countries of the region. Monitoring and reforming the education systems will form part of this public awareness – SAAPE will work on education policies, and ensure qualitative and progressive education so that democracy can be sustainable.Realising that in the region, where patriarchal customs and practices continue, we declare that SAAPE will make sure that women have equal participation as members of decision-making bodies and that the poverty of women will be a constant concern and focus. Women must form at least 50 per cent of all bodies that work within SAAPE. Women bring real strength to struggles for social justice and human rights, they are tenacious, fearless, and in their lives, used to solving problems. They have experienced suppression, and given a chance to participate, are creative, courageous and effective partners in the struggles against poverty and injustices in the region.Realising that in the region, fundamental religious sentiments and revivalism mingled with politics, have caused deprivation, poverty, destitution, agony and atrocities, and having seen the impact and effect of the rise of earthquake in Pakistan and Kashmir), response is quick and effective, if a situation is dealt with urgency under the disguise of ‘disaster’. For example, the response to the great disaster Tsunami showed how the world would/could respond to poverty and hunger if they are seen and declared as such emergencies.This Declaration of the members of SAAPE, made in solidarity, is adopted by the 130 members from eight countries of South Asia along with our European partners assembled in Kathmandu, Nepal, on 3r day of July 2006.FacebookTwitterEmail
January 1, 2003, at 12:00 am
Colombo Declaration, 2003
SAAPE statement from 1st meeting of the General Assembly, Colombo, Sri LankaThe First General Assembly of SAAPE met in Colombo from 14 to 16 June 2003. Representatives from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka focal organisations, independent social movement activists, mass organisations, academics, non-government organisations and members from civil society organisations in Europe were present. After two days of deliberation, the following Statement was adopted:South Asia, both as individual countries and together as a region, has a claim to a history of adopting their own ways of development. There has been 500 years of reversal of the development process since Vasco de Gama attempted to discover India 500 years ago. The damage caused during the last 55 years of the Bretton Woods institutions has been far greater than the damage of the 450 years before that. Not just to the economy, but to cultures and the way of thinking of the people. In our countries the natural resources and wealth of nature have been completely destroyed. Some of the ancient traditional practices still remain with the people. So the struggle for us today is the second struggle for independence to recover the right to utilise the resources and traditions that we have.We are painfully aware of the fact that more than half of the world’s poor live in South Asia. Colonial rule in this part of the world had already ruined our economy and pushed our people into abject poverty. Our people rose in rebellion and through the multiple paths of resistance we gained our freedom and got rid of colonialism and its rapacious plunder of our resources and our wealth.Following national independence our governments made many promises, which were not honoured – yet there was increased employment, the establishment of public sector industries and some attempt at the introduction of basic services by the state. The immediate post-independence societies, guided by the euphoria of freedom, were committed to social goals and freeing the people from poverty. Above all a system of Constitutional governance was introduced in many countries of the region.Ever since the new wave of Globalisation began these gains have been quickly eroded. No time was lost in imposing upon us the new dogmatism of Neo-liberalism. We were told that the panacea for all our ills was Structural Adjustment through the route of market fundamentalism as prescribed by the Washington Consensus. Our governments surrendered before the architects of the global economic restructuring plan and invited imperialism again as if it were different from the earlier spell of colonialism.Though direct foreign rule is not physically seen, Transnational Corporations have invaded and influenced every corner of our market to extract profits for imperialism once again. Trade was initiated as a means of exchange and not for greed, profit and accumulation. It has for a long time served to achieve progress for human kind but when we look at the reality today, we now see trade leading to destruction. Impoverishment, deprivation, job losses, marginalisation, pauperisation and de-proletarianisation have returned to our lands. Millions are displaced, deprived of their access to natural resources and livelihood opportunities and thrown on to the urban streets, slums and unemployment with diminishing state aided welfare support, thereby exacerbating their misery. We take note of the indignities imposed on the Dalits for centuries and the displacement of tribals from their ancestral habitats and we draw attention to growing poverty, powerlessness and the denial of rights of women – leading in some cases even to the commodification of their bodies and body parts and the accompanying increase in social violence. This is true also of religious and ethnic minorities, indigenous minorities, and of urban and rural workers.The Colombo meeting of SAAPE has demanded that development plans be developed by the people themselves and budgets decided by people living in poverty. We have had enough from the mergers of internal and external profit driven forces. We know how government borrowings benefit the donors and elites, leaving the recipients poorer than before; how free trade facilitates super profits for the TNCs; how liberalisation reopens our market once again for another round of rapacious plunder as happened during colonialism; how Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) result in bio-piracy; and how privatisation leads to jobless growth and deprivation of basic needs. Women and children are specifically affected by the denial of their right to basic health and educational facilities, and employment. We now demand that the destinies of our countries be with the people themselves. They should now decide what is in their best interest.We are aware that imperialism never gave up its colonies voluntarily–neither will they give up their neo-colonial empire because people ask them to do so. We therefore need to prepare our second liberation struggle. This time we must make sure that the architects and agents of imperialism and globalisation are ousted lock, stock and barrel. For this to happen the poor must take the lead–they need to understand the true nature of neo-colonialism. We must expose and delegitimise the path laid down for us by the Bretton Woods institutions–we must expose their true character and the perfidy of their modus operandi. We must expose their lies, deeds and actions through public trial. We must let them hear the judgement of our people and through the peaceful and non-violent path mobilise the ravished millions to achieve our second independence.For this to be possible SAAPE must get down to unrelenting serious political work. We have to build pro-poor alliances at the local, national, regional and international levels. There are hundreds of initiatives going on in distant corners of our land: these must be brought together, they must all be linked and relinked, all energies and all efforts must be channelised. It is not enough to remain at the micro level. We must obtain the richness of the micro experience and feed it into wider sectoral processes, we must encourage debate and discussions among ourselves, we must shed all sectarianism and those negations that have already destroyed many mainstream political parties, we must have the openness, the humility and the courage to learn from the best that is going on in any corner of our region. We must bring these experiences to the wider level, share our sectoral insights and knowledge so often generated through long years of struggle and tenacious praxis, and come together at the inter-sectoral level in order to ask the more basic questions related to the root causes of all our misery and poverty.It is our considered opinion that SAAPE must become such a platform at the South Asia level. We already have the material basis for doing so. We are moving forward with amazing rapidity and everyday produces new fascinating experiences of solidarity and convergence. We are greatly encouraged by the unique and valuable links we have already established with people (civil society organisations) from other countries throughout the world. *The SAAPE initiative has been unique in many ways. It is the first South Asian Alliance to focus primarily on the question of poverty in our region, even as the rulers of this part of the world shed crocodile tears for the poor when they get together in SAARC. We even have reason to believe that some big countries of this region are keen to avoid SAARC holding meetings. We witness them being postponed again and again. We consider this to be a very disturbing tendency–especially when we are aware of so much communal and ethnic disturbance causing death, disturbance, and destabilisation in our region. In this context we are determined to create a people’s SAARC and carry forward the potential of working together for our common good.SAAPE is also unique since it has from the very days of its inception been looking for like-minded partners in the North and is heartened to have found allies from the civil society of the North, some of whom have taken a pioneering lead to build concrete linkages with the South and proactively cooperated with SAAPE to raise fundamental issues of common concern in many fora within the European Union including the European Commission as well as the European Parliament. We are happy that many of these friends are with us in this First General Assembly of SAAPE and are signatories to this Colombo statement.We do feel that the conditions for carrying forward our constructive and creative work in the mode of “ahimsa and satyagraha” have arrived in our region once again. During the last freedom struggle they divided us, drew boundaries across our lands and sold arms to our governments to fight each other, but during the coming freedom struggle we will not be fooled again. We must be prepared with clear plans.We are proud to take note of our South Asian identity. Whenever we meet across artificial borders that divide us we are reminded of our deep cultural and civilisational commonness. We not only cherish this oneness but also see in it great opportunities for our people to lead a more peaceful and prosperous life if only the arms race and militarisation in our region are brought to an end. What we need is pro-people forms of governance in which local self government is given its due place of primacy and importance and all national governments that are anti-people–be they military, monarchical or authoritarian are replaced by more people friendly institutions of governance at all levels. It is only the ruling elite and their agents who search for differences and seek so many artificial ways and means to introduce and perpetuate strife among our people.We the people of this region will draw from the richness of our plurality and build on our rich cultural, religious and spiritual heritage so as to come together against all those who foster communalism, fundamentalism, ethnic strife, armed struggle and non-peaceful means. We must prepare for the next struggle for national liberation and this time it must be under the leadership of those who have been deprived of their basic human rights and their genuine allies. The political economy that generates wealth for the few and poverty and powerlessness for millions needs to be restructured by the millions into a political economy that honours labour and creates wealth and well-being for all.The Colombo Statement reiterated the Manesar Declaration and reaffirmed the power of people in the South Asia region to regain control to abolish both poverty, and the politics that creates this condition.
June 8, 2002, at 5:38 am
Statement of Concern, Kathmandu 2001
Statement of Concern, Kathmandu 2002"Eradication of abject poverty is the utmost necessity to affirm social justice and lasting peace" (Press statement declared on 5th January 2001 in Kathmandu) On the occasion of the 11th Summit of South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) in Kathmandu, Nepal from 4 to 6 January 2002, the members of the South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE) call upon the Heads of States or Governments gathered here to renew their commitments for promoting the welfare of the people of South Asia, particularly the excluded, the poor, the marginalised, and all those who do not have access to basic health care, basic education, shelter and fundamental rights. The tasks of eradicating poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, unemployment, tackling environmental degradation and food insecurity need to be jointly addressed. As members of social movements and organisations working for the development through empowerment of the people living in poverty, we urge SAARC members to implement the commitments of their governments and bring at a regional level increased serious and meaningful cooperation for eradicating poverty and eliminating social injustice. In this context, we share with you our statement of concern and purpose as follows;Senior development workers, social movement leaders, leading academics and concerned citizens from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka came together to discuss critical issues of poverty eradication, to strategise about ways to create more just societies within the region, and to plan for serious regional cooperation. This meeting was held in Kathmandu, Nepal, and was a follow-up to the earlier South Asian Civil Society Conference held in September 2000 at Manesar, Haryana, India. # The Kathmandu meeting resolved to establish a regional Alliance for collective work on poverty eradication. This statement was adopted as the basis for future action together in the newly formed South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication.The Alliance members share the views that governments of the region have a responsibility to ensure that all of their citizens have basic human rights to life and livelihood. The State collects taxes from the people, and has a direct responsibility to provide affordable quality education, health services, food security, etc. The State should not only confine its role to regulating the freedom of the marketplace; nor should the state abdicate its role by handing over the responsibility for providing social services to the private sectors, NGOs and other civil society actors. The state, with honesty, sincerity, economy, and simplicity must play its rightful and historical role in the countries of the region.In addition, the members reject the dominant development thinking which dictates that the best way to get the best life for the largest number of people is to promote a globalised world economy marked by "free trade", liberalisation and privatisation. In the region of South Asia, we know that this approach to development causes hardship and misery to many people living in our region. We believe that Alternative Development Approaches will better serve the people of South Asia. We commit ourselves supporting to discover, define, and disseminate these approaches, evolved through listening to, learning from and working with the people of our countries.Members of the Alliance will continue to work with people living in poverty, urging their national governments to review and implement their commitments to the eradication of all forms of poverty which result in marginalisation. At the same time, members of the Alliance feel that some of the major problems faced by people living in conditions of poverty are particularly accentuated by globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation. These cannot be solved in isolation from other countries in the region. The members of the Alliance from various civil society organisations have agreed to build and strengthen alliances around common issues.Alliance members underscore the grave crises that mark the entire region – growing numbers of people living in conditions of extreme poverty,skewed development policies leading to large scale displacements of poor people,mass migration increasing the fragility of rural based populations, particularly landless labourers and poor peasants,the escalating violence faced by women living in abject poverty,the declining social sector expenditures by governments,the increasing costs of militarisation,the acute distress of large masses of people neglected by unresponsive governments implementing distorted agenda of development priorities,severely endangered food security aggravated by multinational companies acquiring patent rights over our bio-diversity,the dismantling of government food security systems in the name of privatisation,forced and exploited labour,escalating communalism and fundamentalism which are undermining the people's struggles to address the root causes of poverty,the people's right to information not being uniformly available in the region,social conflict within countries resulting from state and other systemic suppression over people. People raise their voices about real problems, and the State does not listen to them, resulting in frustration, and violence in society,governments not addressing the structural causes of poverty,escalating numbers of refugees in the region, andextremely high national debt as a result of international financial institutional borrowing, etc. Members of the alliance call on governments in all countries of the region to implement genuine agrarian reforms, to put in place mechanisms to ensure profitable prices for all peasants and to initiate rural development policies which would provide further food securities to those living in poverty and deprivation.Members of the Alliance call for the governments of the region to protect the People's Rights over natural resources- land, water, forest, minerals, shrubs and herbs. The bio-diversity of the region must be protected for local people.To address the problems of landless labourers and poor peasants, the Alliance Members call for a campaign against the use of every kind of forced and bonded labour, and at the same time, for a campaign for Minimum Wages to all informal sector workers, especially agriculture labourers - both men and women.Women living in poverty in all the countries of the region are facing high degrees of exploitation, both in terms of denial of their rights as citizens, their exclusion from political participation, and also in terms of property rights. Trafficking in women and children has increased and it is alarming to note the lack of sensitiveness to this issue. Forced violence against women even extends to "honour killings", "dowry deaths", and female foeticides in the region, leading to alarming decline in female to male sex ratio. Governments must act to protect and empower vulnerable women. Active steps must be taken to stop these practices.Various religious and social factors and an overall situation of patriarchy prevent women's participation, decision making and equal rights, including access and control over property and resources. These can only be addressed through legal reform, and changes in resource allocation. Also, when there are more opportunities and space for women to improve their situations, women themselves will act. Governments should take effective and efficient actions to implement all International Conventions and Covenants ratified by them, such as CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women) to protect and promote the fundamental rights of women.Attention of governments is also drawn to the need to eradicate child labour and to provide compulsory free basic education. Likewise, concrete actions need to be taken to materialise the vision of signed International Conventions such as CRC (Convention on the Rights of the Child). Debt payments are a crippling feature of the economies of the region. They are a result of the pressures of Globalised Economic Policies, and are one of the causes of continuing poverty. Members call for the immediate and unconditional Cancellation of Debt in the countries of South Asia, and governments are urged to divert the resources that would be used for debt payment, to women and children's health, education, socio-economic empowerment, drinking water, and subsidies for farm inputs and food security.In order to address the plight of refugees, negotiations are needed to facilitate repatriation, refugees returning to their countries with dignity and honour, without fear of persecution. Further, the repatriation of refugees is important in addressing the impoverishment that results for the citizens of the countries in the region that house refugees.Alliance members urge governments to address in a timely planned way the fundamental causes of social conflicts with multiple strategies involving local people so that such conflicts can be prevented from escalating into violence.The South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication and its members are committed to undertake the following roles and responsibilities:monitor national governments in their performance to implement their commitments,resist anti-poor policies, be they economic, social, political or environmental,encourage regional development cooperation amongst the governments of the region, as well as amongst non-state actors,develop strategies which create space for people's initiatives and support people's struggles for reinstating social justice, recognising the specific and different contexts of marginalised groups,facilitate alliances in the region and support existing networks, to work on strategies that could effectively change and combat the harmful economic policies of corporate globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation which cause increasing poverty in the region,develop common strategies that make governments, states, and local authorities accountable and responsive to people's needs and aspirations,establish regional dialogue with the European Union, and other international bodies and networks, both state and civil society ones that can be seen as allies in the struggle to control and change strong international actors who are causing impoverishment in the region - indeed, in the world,set up a "People for Peace" initiative in the region to work towards peace in the region. This will include influencing governments to reduce defence expenditures, andincorporate "Community Media" for communicating and informing about technology, success stories of differing communities and people's initiatives within the region.The times call for joint resistance to external interventions that harm equitable distribution of resources within countries. All development policies, plans and budget exercises need a people's audit so that the planning process may be owned by the people living in the areas.Civil and political rights essentially fortify people's access to economic, social and cultural rights. Social justice is under siege and people's organisations have indeed shown success in realising constitutional rights, as a result of their field and policy interventions.South-South and South-North exchanges and alliances strengthen social actions, and are necessary in these complex economic and social times. Therefore, the members of the Alliance present in Kathmandu invite all like-minded social development organisations and movements in South Asia to join, and propose a system of affiliation for supporters living outside the region."Let us join hands to unitedly fight against poverty, hunger and social injustice" December 21, 2001
June 8, 2000, at 5:38 am
Manesar Declaration, 2000
Manesar Declaration, 2000Adopted by South Asian Civil Society Conference27-29 September 2000, Manesar, Haryana, India The Hivos India Regional Office had taken the lead in the organisation of a Eurostep South Asia Consultation on Poverty Eradication and Quality of Aid held in Manesar, Hariyana, India from September 27 to 29, 2000. Of the 57 participants, 45 were selected representatives of civil societies in the South – NGO representatives, activists and lobbying organisations from Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India. Twelve representatives from the European Commission and Delegation were also present. The Eurostep South Asian Consultation recommendations noted the need to focus on South Asia’s population living below the poverty line, the need for independent NGOs and social movements to play a lead role in pressurising governments and donors to give serious attention to countering poverty, and the need for further alliance building and networking between Asian and European NGOs to raise impact at various levels.During a meeting in Haryana, India, representatives comprising journalists, academics, NGOs and other Civil Society actors from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and India, together with representatives from European NGOs within Eurostep drew the following conclusions and recommendations.The process of development is inherently political and if it is inequitable and non-participatory, it can actually create poverty. The objective of eradicating poverty can only be achieved through struggle in which people living in poverty are empowered to take control of their own lives and resources. People living in poverty, the majority of whom are women, are best able to identify the structural obstacles that perpetuate and accentuate poverty. In consequence, they are also best placed to set the agenda, to address these obstacles and to define solutions that can eradicate poverty.The definition and framework of the Poverty Reduction Strategy as defined by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cannot eradicate poverty. On the contrary, the policies and practices of the Breton Woods institutions as they are currently modelled, accentuate poverty.Current forms of globalisation based on unfettered liberalisation accentuate global inequalities both between countries and within countries. On the other hand, global alliances can actually contribute to the eradication of poverty.It is clear that a ‘rights based approach’ to social development, which recognises the multi-faceted nature of poverty, is central to its eradication. The rights-based approach can also ensure that the dignity of people living in poverty is recognised.The struggle to eradicate poverty calls for partnerships and alliances based on shared values and principles, together with mutuality of concerns.Past development policy and practice, which emphasised technocratic approaches, have disempowered people living in poverty by de-politicising their struggles.Therefore the participants from South Asia and Europe will work together towards:Promoting a multi-dimensional, democratic and comprehensive dialogue.Work towards linking constituencies in the North and South to develop common strategies, particularly with regard to the adverse affects of structural adjustment.Promoting viable development alternatives based on people's own knowledge and innovations.Defending people's livelihoods, including the guarding and nurturing of biodiversity, community resources and their own knowledge systems.Promoting the development and strengthening the capacities of civil society organisations to create political and economic democracy.Working towards identifying common strategies that address food security concerns including reforms of current policies, such as the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the Agreement on Agriculture of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).Raising awareness of human rights violations and promoting the evolution of civil societies in countries where civil society is non-existent.We call upon the European Union to:Develop new pro-poor development strategies, independent of IMF/World Bank models, in consultation with representatives of civil society and peoples' organisations.Develop its country strategy papers in proper consultation with organisations of civil society, ensuring that the voices of people living in poverty are heard and reflected in the formulation of the strategies and agendas of poverty alleviation/eradication programs. In addition, a regional strategy for South Asia should be established.Develop suitable mechanisms for consultative processes, including a right to information that takes onto account traditional forms of civil society. In this context, the use of new information technology, the media (inclusive of community and alternative forms) and public hearing in project impact areas should be incorporated.Give increased emphasis to providing relevant support to peoples' initiatives for poverty eradication.Ensure that in its budget allocations there is an increased reflection of the proportion of people living in poverty within South Asia. In addition, emphasis should be given to financing important social sectors. Scarce Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) resources should not be diverted to the private sector.Establish mechanisms for a social audit in all projects that it supports, and to make a commitment to adequately address any negative consequences that are identified.Work to ensure that global trade and investment regulations allow national governments to regulate and control their economics in ways that protect the rights of its entire people.Use its political and economic influence to make structures of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (more) democratic.Mobilise its member states to agree not to sell military arms to countries of South Asia.The European Union should explicitly mainstream gender in the development co-operation agreements that it negotiates with South Asian and other countries.Strive towards the promotion and preservation of a multi-polar world in which there is a respect for democratic principles and space.We call upon the state and governments in South Asia to:Enhance and strengthen their commitments to social sectors and in particular to ensure that the basic needs of all people are met.Ensure that the rights of citizens to life, liberty, human dignity and livelihoods are protected and promoted, particularly those of the marginalised and minorities.Ensure that the policies and practices of the state and its institutions are carried out in a transparent, effective and accountable way, free of corruption. South Asian governments in collaboration with the EU countries should take initiatives to stop market driven corruption.Reject structural adjustment models defined by the World Bank and the IMF. In addition, the governments in South Asia should not bind themselves to the WTO's agreement on agriculture.Reduce expenditures on defence to provide further resources for health, education, agriculture and other programs that address the needs of people living in poverty.Actively work together and support networks and alliances on crosscutting areas of concern such as trafficking of women, water, refugees, citizenship, violence, ecology and disasters.Ensure that their plans emerge from a consultative process that specifically involves the marginalised. Gender concerns should be emphasised in all such development plans.We call on Eurostep and its members to:Work towards the establishment of mechanisms of dialogue between civil societies constituencies in Europe and South Asia and between South Asian civil society and EU institutions.Promote alternative development models drawn from people's experiences and knowledge with a view to their mainstreaming within EU development policies and practices.Support South Asian networks and alliances on crosscutting areas of concern such as trafficking of women, water, refugees, citizenship, violence, ecology and disasters.Work towards deepening and broadening global alliances that can effectively project the concerns and voices of people living in poverty and promote pro-poor solutions.Work together in partnership to build capacity and support for effective policy interventions at the local, national and global level based on a pro-poor agenda.Help promote and establish a global alliance to establish a permanent, independent, social audit commission on the policy and practices of the WTO.Provide information and analysis of the development policy and practices of the European Union.We call on Civil Society in South Asia to:Work towards setting up regional alliances and supporting existing ones, to work on strategies to effectively change and combat the harmful economic policies of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation which cause increasing poverty in the region.Develop strategies, which create space for people's initiatives and support their struggles, recognising the specific and different contexts of marginalised groups.Develop common strategies that make governments, states and local authorities accountable and responsive to people's needs.Establish dialogue collectively and individually with EU representatives.Set up a "People for Peace" structure in the region, to influence governments to reduce defence expenditure and work towards peace in the region.Work for the establishment of a social audit in all projects supported by the EU and to press for the EU to adequately address any negative consequences that are identified.Secretariat is based in Kathmandu at Rural Reconstruction Nepal.29 Sept 2000