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Global Call for Action Against Poverty 2021

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At the start of the 21st century more than a billion people are trapped in abject poverty. We face an AIDS emergency, with 40 million people already infected by the disease. 104 million children don’t go to primary school, and 860 million adults (most of them women) cannot read or write.  Hunger is a daily reality for many.  In parts of the world the death of mothers in childbirth and children in infancy is still routine – deaths that could be prevented by the availability of simple healthcare.  1.4  billion people don’t have access to safe water.  This poverty is a violation of human rights on a massive scale; it is compounded by the trade injustice that keeps people poor.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights protects the rights of all people to an adequate standard of living and well-being, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care: rights whose achievement are undermined by unjust trade practices.

Efforts to tackle poverty and deliver sustainable development, as pledged in the Millennium Declaration, are grossly inadequate.  Governments too often fail to address the needs of their citizens, aid from rich countries is inadequate in both quality and quantity, and promises of debt cancellation have not materialized.  Rich countries have yet to act on their repeated pledges to tackle unfair trade rules and practices.

For the first time in history, we have the means to turn this situation around.  2021 is the year when we can make governments take action.  Acting on this opportunity, a group of NGOs, international networks, trade unions, religious groups and other civil society actors met in Johannesburg and agreed to launch a Global Call to Action Against Poverty.

The last few years have seen great global fragmentation and division.  People all over the world feel less secure and less safe than ever.  We believe that the world can unite again in solidarity against poverty.  We have agreed to undertake joint action and mobilization at key times in 2021.   We plan to link our actions symbolically by the wearing of a white band.

There is great diversity among our group, but we know that we will be more effective when we work together. We do not endeavour to reach absolute agreement on a detailed global policy platform, but we do want to pressure governments to eradicate poverty and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. We want

  • Trade justice
  • Debt cancellation
  • A major increase in the quantity and quality of aid
  • National efforts to eliminate poverty and achieve the Millennium goals that are sustainable and developed and implemented in a way that is democratic, transparent, and accountable to citizens

The Global Call to Action Against Poverty is an alliance of both South and North; it is not a membership organization.  Any non-profit organization willing to support the core message and joint action is invited to become involved.  The main level of co-ordination will be national platforms, layered under regional networks.  National activities will be home grown, will include national priorities and national demands and will build on existing initiatives.  Mass mobilization and people-centred advocacy will be key to the campaign.

An International Facilitation Group was established in Johannesburg to take this work forward, in consultation with all involved.

(1). POLICY CHANGE OBJECTIVES

There is great diversity among our group, but we know that we will be more effective when we work together. We do not endeavour to reach absolute agreement ona detailed global policy platform, but we do want to pressure governments to eradicate poverty and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. We want

  • Trade justice
  • Debt cancellation
  • A major increase in the quantity and quality of aid
  • National efforts to eliminate poverty and achieve the Millennium goals that are sustainable and developed and implemented in a way that is democratic, transparent, and accountable to citizens
  • While specific objectives will be determined by national priorities and contexts, the following texts reflects the Johannesburg meeting policy discussion
  • We recognise that meeting the MDGs is a first step to achieving the goal of eliminating poverty.

Trade

Trade has become the vehicle for the indiscriminate liberalization of developing country economies and the imposition of harmful conditions, instead of supporting sustainable development, poverty eradication and gender equity.

We want trade rules and policies that ensure the right of developing countries to pursue their own development agendas, putting their people’s interests first.

In 2021, we will call on the WTO, international financial institutions and national governments to:

  • Enact measures to protect public services from enforced liberalization and privatisation, secure the right to food and affordable access to essential drugs, and strengthen corporate accountability.
  • Increase accountability and transparency of governments and international organisations to their grassroots constituencies in the formulation of international trade rules and national trade policies, while ensuring consistency of trade policies with respect for workers’ rights, and human rights more broadly.   
  • Immediately end dumping and rich country subsidies that keep people in poverty.

Aid & Debt

Governments and international institutions must urgently provide the major increase in resources necessary for the eradication of poverty and the achievement of the MDGs, through:

  • Aid and debt cancellation that is not tied to contracts with donor countries, or linked to economic conditions that hurt people in poverty.
  • A total cancellation of the unpayable debt of poor countries, by way of a fair and transparent process.
  • Realisation of the 0.7% target on aid and ensuring aid is directed to achieving development objectives.
  • Ensuring that aid supports rather than undermines, community and country defined development priorities.
  • Exploring innovative taxes and mechanisms for raising finance for development.

National-level Action

We call on governments to:

  • Adapt the promises in the global Millennium Declaration and apply the Millennium Development Goals to the national context.
  • Reflect the rights of all citizens (women and men), in the legal, policy and budgetary frameworks and processes, recognising historical gender imbalances.
  • Actively involve civil society and the poor, particularly socially excluded groups, in the formulation of national development priorities, policies and plans.
  • Ensure that adequate domestic and external resources are allocated to providing accessible quality public services for all.
  • Be fully accountable and transparent in the use of public resources and aggressively fight corruption.
  • Exercise the right to nationally determine policies and practices that benefit the majority of citizens, and resist potentially harmful, externally driven conditions imposed by international institutions and agreements.

MDG Process

The Global Call to Action Against Poverty campaign will develop specific policy objectives for the UN Summit to maximise the impact of the Millennium Declaration and the MDG process on poverty alleviation These objectives will, in particular, allow national campaigns to drive specific policy and crosscutting objectives in addition to trade, aid and debt.

Crosscutting Issues

In all the aforementioned objectives, we call on governments, international institutions and civil society actors to uphold principles of human rights and accountable governance, to oppose social exclusion and discrimination based on race, caste, HIV status and minority classification (including on sexual and religious grounds), sustainable development and, further, to ensure gender justice and uphold women’s rights as well as child rights.

(2). TITLE, SLOGAN, LOGO

A single global title for the mobilisation is needed to provide focus, cohesion and to maximise impact of activity. National and sectoral campaigns will have differing emphases and names: these can be used in conjunction with the global title. National and sectoral campaigns will include more motivating language, with the global title being broad and significant.

Criteria for the global title are:

  • Clear and descriptive
  • Simple language
  • Realistic
  • Global
  • Active
  • Not time specific

The group co-ordinating the outcomes from the small meetings debated the naming issue extensively and asked that the following options be considered in the plenary session:

  • Make Poverty History
  • No Excuses, Make Poverty History
  • Call to Action 2021

On the issue of the logo, it was thought that a global logo would help to unify and identify disparate themes and activities. The white band theme was supported, and input is sought on how to use this across regions. It was also decided that professionals would develop all final designs.

After extensive discussion, the meeting resolved to use the title “Global Call to Action against Poverty.” (Henceforth referred to G-CAP).

(3). JOINT MOBILISATION

It was agreed that the campaign would undertake global joint mobilisations at four key times in 2021.

  • December 2020 to January 2021: warm up/roll out event. The group shortlisted three possible options to launch the mobilisation: Skip A Million Meals on December 10th (Human Rights Day, 2020)Greeting Card Action and the 1st January stunt. National platforms would launch the G-CAP during this period with whichever option they prefer in their national and regional context. The G-CAP 2021 will further be presented to the World Social Forum in January 2021. The event will focus on actions and media coverage.
  • 1st July 2020: White Band day. While recognising that there will potentially be a number of mobilisations and demonstration on and around the G8 meeting, the aim of G-CAP will be to undertake a mass global mobilisation on one day immediately before the 2020 G8 meeting
  • September 2020: UN Millennium Development Summit – White Band day II (date to be decided once UN announces Summit dates).
  • WTO Ministerial: Planned for December 2020, this will be a crucial meeting, and it was resolved that G-CAP will work with those trade networks and campaigns which are already working on strategies around this meeting

On these days, the mobilisation will undertake to co-ordinate global mass action by civil society to underline global solidarity. The aim of ‘White Band Day’ will be to get everyone around the world that wants to end poverty to wear a white band on those days.

In addition, the campaign recognises key dates in the international civil society calendar where we should support the actions that are already planned for April/May:

  • Global Week of Action on Trade, 10th – 16th April
  • Global Action on Week on Education, 26th to 30th April
  • Civil society actions around the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings, April
  • The International Workers Day on the 1st of May.

National platforms will be encouraged to participate in these events. Moreover, there will be additional civil society mobilisations, which will be linked to these efforts.

(4). NATIONAL CAMPAIGNS/PLATFORMS AND OUTREACH

At the national level the coordinating structure should be referred to as the National Campaign Group or Committee.

(A preliminary set of principles might guide the national processes):

  • The definition of national strategies must be home grown to promote national ownership.
  • The national campaign must remain open, inclusive and participatory.
  • National campaigns must be built on the practical needs, concerns and efforts of local people and (grassroots) groups.
  • The campaign must be CSO-led and focus on sustainable and long term national processes.
  • The campaign must encourage equal status and equal participation by all organizations.
  • INGOs (international non-government organizations) should only play an enabling role (and not a leadership role) in developing countries.
  • While we refer to ‘national campaigns’, it is understood that actions at national level be coordinated by other entities, such as platforms, coalitions, or networks.

(An additional set of strategies and actions might facilitate national processes):

  • Organization of mobilizations around key national events (budget, specific laws, etc.).
  • Monitoring and preparing shadow reports.
  • Establishment of partnerships with key networks and strong linkages with all relevant processes
  • A deliberate effort to achieve a broad outreach that will include trade unions, NGOs, CBOs, the media, the private sector, FBOs, MPs, other interest groups and local authorities.

(5). INTERNATIONAL FACILITATION GROUP

Co-ordination on the global level

G-CAP is an alliance: it is not a membership organization. Any non-profit organisation willing to support the core messages and joint actions through mobilisation and participation in the events and actions is invited to join with current participants. The main level for co-ordination, advocacy work and mobilisation will be national platforms layered under regional networks.

However there is a need for co-ordination and information exchange on the global level. Two principles should guide this global co-ordination. To create the momentum we need for our joint efforts we should aim at the maximum possible participation and transparency for all organisations, and at the same time develop a flexible and light mechanism that allows us to act and react quickly.

Engagement in G-CAP means being involved through 2021, which is the current mandate of this mobilisation.

Global Action Forum

All civil society organisations who are interested in taking part in the global co-ordination and linking the global campaign to national and regional networks should be regularly informed and consulted on key plans and decisions. They will form the Global Action Forum, the core of which would be the participants of the Johannesburg meeting, however, remaining open to other interested stakeholders. Involvement would be organised through a list serve that allows information exchange on national and regional activities as well as information and consultation on the global co-ordination. Since this global forum would be relatively big and hopefully a growing group, a smaller Facilitation Committee would need to serve as a working group of this broader forum.

International Facilitation Group

The main task of the Facilitation Group is to facilitate and support the participating national/ regional coalitions and networks. The mandate of the group is defined by the policy objectives and mobilisation plans decided by the Johannesburg meeting. The group has this mandate until the end of the year 2021:

  • Facilitate outreach to encourage a wide range of organizations to become involved in G-CAP.
  • Develop a logo and slogan as well as other common material (e.g. toolkits and for all countries/groups willing to participate in the action)
  • Facilitate co-ordination of policy development and share information on lobbying opportunities.
  • Facilitate the preparation of the white bands or other agreed symbolic actions
  • Liase with participating organisations and others (including the UK 2020 G8 Group and the UN) to ensure effective planning and coordination of events and actions internationally.
  • Undertaking international coordination of planned events and actions.
  • Ensure information flow up and down by regular consultation with the Global Action Forum (by regular monthly updates, sharing agendas minutes of the Co-ordination Group for comments and inputs)
  • The IFG will not undertake fundraising activities.
  • Any initiatives at national level will only be taken in co-operation with the national coalition there
  • Guidelines for media work to be developed by the IFG

Composition of the IFG

1. Key good regional representation, 1 – 2 members per region

– Africa
– Middle East
– Asia/Pacific
– Latin America/ Caribbean
– Europe
– North America

2. Include key organisations (e.g. trade unions, faith based groups, thematic networks).

Other criteria:

  • Diversity of experience and knowledg
  • Gender balance
  • Trust to serve our common project
  • A commitment and capacity to participate in the work (1-hour teleconference per week, ability to participate in preparatory groups)
  • Support for members that have less resources (e.g. for communication costs)

The group would ideally not have more than 15 members. Since the coalition is hopefully a growing movement, the coordination group appointed in Johannesburg will be mandated to co-opt new members or invite observers. This should be done after consultation with the Global Action Forum.

This civil society led coalition will work in strategic partnership with a number of other actors amongst which are the UN Millennium Campaign and media specialists. Strategic partners can be invited as observers to the IFG.

Working Groups

Working groups to support the work of the IFG would be based on:

  • Mobilisation
  • Media work
  • Lobby/policy

Regional and International Composition of the International Facilitation Group

1. LATIN AMERICA – CARIBBEAN:

  • Patricia Garce – Social Watch
  • Jorge Balbis – ALOP

2. N. AMERICA

  • Erin Tunney – Interaction

3. ARAB REGION

  • Ziad Abdel Samad – Arab NGO Network for Development

4. EUROPE:

  • Nicolas Guilhard – Agir ici
  • Maurizio Gubbiotti – Peace Round Table

5. AFRICA:

  • Davis Ddamulira – AWEPON
  • Gorgui Sow – ANCEFA
  • Ezra Limiri Mbogori – MWENGO
  • Thomas Deve – MWENGO

6. N. AFRICA – MID. EAST:

  • Ziad Abdel Samad- Arab NGO Network for Development

7. ASIA:

  • Dr. Bappukunju Ekbal – Peoples Health Movenent
  • Avi Mahaningtyas – Yayasan Bina Usaha Lingkungan/GEF – SGP

8. INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS:

  • Wendy Caird – Public Service International
  • Owain James – Oxfam International
  • John Samuel – ActionAid Alliance
  • Duncan Pruett – ICFTU
  • Ted Van Hees – Novib/ Oxfam International
  • Marina Ponti – UN Millennium Campaign
  • Roberto Bissio – Social Watch
  • Christiane Overkamp – CIDSE
  • Oliver Buston – DATA
  • Celita Eccher – ICAE/DAWN
  • Alejandra Scampini –DAWN
  • Anne Jellema – Global Campaign for Education
  • Michael Smitheram – Micah Challenge
  • Kel Currah – World Vision International