peace & creation concerns
understood as increasing internationalization of ideas, science,
communication and technology, must be distinguished from economic
globalization, which transforms trade and finance in favour of powerful
"How do we live our faith in the context of globalization?" the WCC's 1998 assembly in Zimbabwe asked, thereby challenging the Council and its member churches to offer clear analysis and critiques as well as alternatives to globalization - in terms of the neo-liberal paradigm, trade, finance and ecology -, as well as to explore the political, cultural, and ecclesiological dimensions of globalization.
Thus began a journey of churches and their partners that will culminate at the next WCC assembly in 2006 in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The journey is called AGAPE: "Alternative Globalization Addressing People and Earth". With clear guidelines from the January 2001 WCC Central Committee meeting in Berlin, it is being coordinated by the Justice, Peace and Creation team.
Human development within sustainable communities is the vision guiding the WCC’s approach to economic globalization. Such a vision can become reality only when economic, financial and ecological justice are addressed holistically with democratic participation at all levels.
AGAPE: "Alternative Globalization Addressing People and Earth"
See also: Workshop on deepening the AGAPE process and follow-up
Geneva, 7-9 September 2006
It can not be realized while
the material overabundance enjoyed by a small part of the
global community continues to grow at the expense of the majority
of people in the world. The unquenchable thirst for more power,
profits and possessions of some individuals, social groups
and corporate entities is unsustainable, and deprives many
communities of the ability to meet their needs in harmony
with their environment. Today, globalization is one of the
main causes of the growing gap between the rich and the poor,
between the North and the South.
exchange of goods, services, ideas and information has always
been a feature of human history. It is a source of authentic
human development, provided it spreads in ever-expanding circles.
However, if left to itself, it will impoverish those at the
edges of the system, sucking out their substance to increase
the means at the disposal of the powerful. This is the message
of the Jubilee which lies at the core of the Bible's social
Shocking figures: a powerpoint presentation on globalization and poverty
"These shocking figures are urging us to take action today," says WCC/JPC programme executive Rogate Mshana, who created this presentation.
City, the heart of London's
and that which is essential to sustain it – cannot be commodified.
Real value goes far beyond what can be expressed in monetary terms.
Human beings are made in the image of God, and human life finds
its full meaning in community. Yet the dominant worldview underlying
economic globalization characterizes humans as competitive individuals
rather than as community members. By undermining essential spiritual
values, globalization has eroded the moral and ethical fabric of
society, putting the diversity of cultures at risk and threatening
the ecological basis of life, eating at the very heart of sustainable
Justice is the
heart of the matter. All people and communities should participate
in the economic, social and political decisions that affect them,
and the aim of economic life should be to nurture sustainable, just
and participatory communities. What is needed is the globalization
of solidarity: the affirmation of our common destiny as co-inhabitants
of one Earth, for which we all share responsibility and from which
everyone should equitably benefit.
order to carry forward the AGAPE process, the JPC team is attempting
promote better understanding of the impact of economic globalization
on people and the churches, and provide an ecumenical platfom to
respond to its consequences, in close cooperation with Christian
world communions, regional and national ecumenical organizations.
The WCC's work in relation to two global events - a UN Financing for Development (FFD) Summit in March 2002 in
Mexico, and a September 2002 World Summit
on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg - was
part of this effort.
develop guidelines for encounters on the policies of the World
Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and contribute to
the work of the Ecumenical
Advocacy Alliance (EAA) on trade and the World Trade Organization
cooperate closely with the Jubilee movement on debt cancellation,
and with KAIROS
Europa and other groups on the international financial system
promote economic literacy and leadership training on economic
globalization and alternatives through studies and workshops organized
with member churches and social movements
support initiatives to develop a new vision for Africa with an
emphasis on poverty eradication.
and press releases on WCC work on the neoliberal paradigm
A new type of capitalism has emerged in which technology
and communication facilitates lightning-fast trading in financial
assets across borders.
is characterized by financial speculation, international debt and
inequitable world trade.
Aristotle made a clear distinction between economics
(oikonomia) and purely speculative activity, which produced nothing
of real value. Today the power of financial capital dominates the
real economy of production and trading of goods and services. Turning
the Tide: Confronting the Money Traders, a book by the Ecumenical
Coalition for Economic Justice (Canada), analyzes the devastating
effects of this new economy - built on "cybermoney" and on financial
speculation rather than the production of goods and services - on
jobs, social security and quality of life.
is estimated that about US $ 1.3 trillion worth of currencies
changes hands on world markets every day. When in the 1940s
Maynard Keynes warned against the danger of the finance economy
dominating the real economy, financial exchanges were about
twice as voluminous as merchandise trade. Today financial transactions
are 72 times greater. Foreign exchange trading accounts for
only only one quarter of the speculative economy. When all financial
instruments are put together, we are talking about a total daily
transaction of US $ 4 trillion. It is also estimated that more
than US $ 13 billion flows through telecommunications networks
as "hot money".
This proposal, first
made by the economist James Tobin, has met resistance from
rich countries. Canadian churches working together for a just
and sustainable economy have succeeded in persuading the Canadian
Government to spearhead the application of the CTT. (See their
speculators go for quick returns, they are not interested in investing
in companies which create employment but yield slow returns. Excessive
speculation leads to financial volatility and in many cases contributes
to chronic indebtedness. To solve this problem, some churches are
campaigning for a Currency
Transaction Tax (CTT) aimed at discouraging
excessive speculation, enhancing exchange stability and creating
revenue which can be used to finance poverty alleviation and social
projects. Up to now, this tax has not been enforced. The UN was
asked to conduct a study on the practicality of this tax during
the Geneva Summit on Social Development+5 in 2000.
position of the WCC on debt is that "Debt relief must be...
a contribution to eradicating poverty and building sustainable community,
not... a means to achieve debt sustainability."
Since its inception in 1996, the Highly Indebted Poor Countries
(HIPC) Initiative has been subjected to stalling and delays. To
date only 10 out of the 40 countries on the HIPC list have seen
actual reductions in their debt repayments. This reduction was not
sufficient to pull these countries out of the cycle of poverty.
A new condition demands that HIPCs produce "Poverty Reduction
Strategy Papers" with the participation of civil society. At
the rate at which the Initiative is being applied, it will take
more than 15 years to provide relief to the 40 highly-indebted poor
are called to suggest alternatives to current short-term debt relief
initiatives. The WCC/JPC supports the efforts of NGO coalitions
- Jubilee South and other
Jubilee 2000 movements - to implement their new proposals.
group of theologians, economists, sociologists and ecologists have
produced a background document for the churches on how they can
respond to the policies of International Financial Institutions.
This document is called "Lead Us
Not Into Temptation: Churches' Response to the Policies of International
Financial Institutions". A joint group of staff from the
WCC, the World Bank and IMF has organized two joint encounters on
the neo-liberal economic paradigm; wealth and social justice, and
debt. The reports are in form of books. An internal encounter on
the policies of the World Bank and IMF was organized for churches
and agencies in September 2003 and produced a book entitled "Passion
for another world".
seminar on Illegitimate Debt and Arbitration
was organized by WCC in June 2003 to assess where we are in solving
the debt problem: A report entitled "The Debt Problem for Poor
Countries: Where are We?" was produced.
and press releases on WCC work on finance
to Justice, Peace & Creation
seeking economic justice, we have chosen to focus on how multilateral
trade can be carried out in ways that promote justice, human development,
and ecological sustainability.
is a basic act in any society. We accept that trade can bring about
good in our world. An exchange between parties, if fair, can be
of mutual benefit and increase human wellbeing.
But trade on
unequal terms is damaging, creates and maintains inequities, and
can lead to violence and conflict. Trade should be a means to share
the bounty of the earth and the fruits of human labor, yet too often
it is a force that produces poverty, despair, injustice and death.
trading systems are dominated by a few economic powers – including
rich country governments, transnational corporations, stock markets
and multilateral institutions – whose control of capital,
technology, political influence, cultural persuasion through the
international media, and military influence are overwhelming and
preclude access to the global market on an equitable basis. Within
poor countries, powerful elites reap the benefits of economic globalization,
while billions of their people remain in abject poverty. International
trade and its liberalization provide the means by which power and
advantage are translated into disproportionate wealth for some,
while inequalities between countries and within countries continue
to widen and vulnerable people are further marginalized.
Most poor countries
and their people do not benefit much from world trade. About 360
transnational corporations currently account for 40% of world trade
and their production centres and sales networks cover the world,
both rich and poor. Although some Northern states exercise some,
and Southern states less, control over them, TNCs possess enormous
potential for building monopolies and are able easily to overcome
and structural reasons, developing countries require special consideration
and assistance to be able to participate equitably in world trade.
This would include protective tariffs for developing country exports
to developed country markets. Increasingly, the rich countries continue
to subsidise their farmers and also make it difficult for accessibility
of their markets by the developing countries.
The World Trade
Organization (WTO) is still dominated by the developed countries
and is not helpful to the developing countries. At its 45 meetings
a week, poor countries are neither sufficiently skilled or resourced
to carry out effective trade negotiations.
is now proposing the development of just, pluralistic trade organizations
interacting with one another amidst broadly defined and flexible.
The issues of low prices for products from developing countries
requires further studies and analysis.
and press releases on WCC work on trade
is a new and broadly ecumenical network for international cooperation
in advocacy on HIV/AIDS
and global trade,
designed to strengthen the prophetic voice and impact of ecumenical
witness on the crucial social, political and economic issues
of the day. It will do this by pooling the resources and experience
of its partner bodies. Many are already participating - the
WCC and its member churches, regional ecumenical organizations
and fellowships, church agencies, specialized networks in the
South, Christian world communions, international ecumenical
and Roman Catholic organizations. More will join.
Debt Group (MDG)
"The MDG protests against the one-year moratorium
on Mozambican foreign debt service payments granted recently
by the World Bank. The MDG also protests against the fact that
the World Bank is granting Mozambique new funds in the form
of loans to support emergency efforts. The MDG considers that
the attitude of the World Bank is immoral and shows a sickening
lack of humanity for all those Mozambicans who for years have
sacrificed to pay the debt service. In this context, the MDG
appeals to the World Bank to:
Cancel Mozambique’s foreign debt
Give grants and not loans to
help the emergency situation.
Not use funds released under
HIPC to help in the emergency."
The Uganda Debt
Network (UDN) is a coalition of 90
NGOs, institutions, civic organizations and individuals.
The postponement of debt relief under HIPC has created more
hardships for the people of Uganda.
"UDN is concerned that donors are taking us for a free but
dangerous ride. The network members have worked so hard
to see that the country obtains debt relief and starts on
the road to poverty eradication. Your actions and those
of your colleagues seem to undermine our achievements so
far. We are not happy that creditors, when the country has
just finalized the exercise of the Poverty Reduction Action
Plan declare intentions to accord debt relief. Such actions
will do more than harm than good. The poor are being punished
twice. UDN states categorically as follows:
No new conditionalities.
Poverty eradication can not be
Debt relief must be given now."
Jubilee Research (successor to Jubilee
2000) and Jubilee
South, two important church-related
debt coalitions, recently reiterated the following position:
"A new deal for developing countries has to be premised
upon fundamental resolution of the debt crisis. Existing
proposals of debt "relief" do not release poor countries
from debt bondage, or address the fundamental causes and
recurrences of the debt problem and, further, subject developing
countries' economies and people to the pressures and dictates
of creditor countries.
We reject the HIPC Initiative
and the repackaging and the perpetuation of the IMF and
the World Bank Structural Adjustment Programmes under the
guise of the growth and poverty reduction facility.
We support the move to build an international alliance among
government and civil society that will press for the cancellation
of all debts deemed by civil society to be unplayable and
all illegitimate debts of developing countries.
We demand that control of the process of dealing with debt
should be removed from the hands of the IMF, the World Bank
and the Paris Club.
We further demand that new, independent and transparent
arrangements accountable to civil society must be put in
2004 World Council of Churches. Remarks to: webeditor"