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Santo Domingo
23-24 November 2009

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COUNCIL

SANTO DOMINGO COUNCIL - At a turning point for a sustainable future - the Social Democratic Way Forward

23-24 November 2009

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Latifa Perry

The Socialist International’s second Council meeting of the year took place in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, under the title 'At a turning point for a sustainable future - the Social Democratic Way Forward’ on 23 and 24 November, hosted by its member party in that country, the Dominican Revolutionary Party PRD.
 
The meeting opened with addresses from the leader of the PRD, Miguel Vargas Maldonado (text), and the President of the Socialist International and Prime Minister of Greece, George Papandreou (text). The Council discussed an agenda, introduced by Secretary General Luis Ayala (text), which centred on the following themes: ‘For a new deal with nature and a new treaty in Copenhagen’ (List of Speakers); Overcoming inequality, creating jobs and defeating poverty in the world economy (List of Speakers); Working for a world free of nuclear weapons and for arms control (List of Speakers); and ‘Securing democracy and reaffirming people’s rights’ (List of Speakers).

On the first theme of the agenda the proposals of the Report From a High Carbon Economy to a Low Carbon Society put forward by the SI Commission for a Sustainable World Society last September were highlighted and the Council called for an international agreement between all parties to the UNFCCC next December in Copenhagen that would lead to a new Treaty. In the discussions it was evident that all SI members whether in government or in opposition remained ready to contribute to these efforts. The speakers called for decisive reductions in carbon emissions in developed countries, the setting of targets also by developing countries in emissions and an appropriate financing for technology transfers, mitigation and adaptation. A Declaration reflecting these discussions was unanimously adopted by the Council. Later, during the meeting, the mandate of the Sustainable World Society Commission was extended for a further period until agreement on the new Treaty is reached.

On the second theme, the Council examined the current phase and consequences of the economic downturn and discussed progressive proposals to confront inequality, create jobs and defeat poverty. The recommendations of the SI Commission on Global Financial Issues were highlighted, underlining the need for a new international financial architecture which places people - not markets - at its centre. The Council concurred that the crisis was not over and further risks remained. Jobs and improved living conditions were seen as a priority for social democrats, and as the real indicators of economic recovery. Under this theme a Resolution on Global Development and its economic social and cultural dimensions prepared by the SI Committee on Economic Policy, Labour and National Resources was also adopted by the Council.

The International has a longstanding tradition of working for a world free of nuclear weapons and for arms control, a subject addressed as the third issue on the agenda. Speakers at the Council highlighted recent international developments which gave hope for the forthcoming Review Conference on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT) to take place in May 2010. A Resolution on this subject was adopted calling for the positive steps to be supported and encouraged, as it was stressed that it was imperative to strengthen the NPT as the cornerstone of the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime. It was also underlined that in the long run significant cuts in nuclear warheads and stockpiles cannot be reached without complementary conventional arms control.
 
Under the fourth main theme of the Council, 'Securing Democracy and Reaffirming People's Rights', participants continued reflection and debate on these very fundamental issues to which the International has always been committed. Speakers from different countries and continents presented contrasting realities of today in which democratic standards have shifted, cases where democratic institutions and peoples’ rights are under threat, and also where new technologies have brought both new challenges and opportunities. A Declaration on democracy was adopted outlining essential elements for democratic governance and in which the importance of international support and global solidarity was also underlined.
 
The Council also adopted Resolutions on human rights in Iran and on the situation in the Middle East.

On the second day of the meeting, the eve of the anniversary of the assassination of the Mirabal sisters in the Dominican Republic on 25 November forty nine years ago during the Trujillo dictatorship, a date which was later, and for this reason, designated as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the Council held a one minute silence in their memory and in respect to women everywhere who are now victims of violence. 

On other matters, the Council agreed on sending a message of support and solidarity to the imprisoned leader of the National League for Democracy of Burma, Aung Sang Suu Kyi, a special Honorary President of the SI. Regarding Honduras, the Council, which at its last meeting had decidedly condemned the coup d’état in that country, deplored the decision to hold elections on 29 November, before the reinstatement of the legitimate constitutional government, thus undermining the agreement reached for a way out of the crisis there as well as the elections themselves. Ahead of the forthcoming second round of the Presidential elections in Uruguay, the Council agreed to send its best wishes for success to the Frente Amplio and its candidate José Mujica. The Council also shared the call made by the SI Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean at its last meeting held in Guatemala, supporting the request by the UN Special Committee on Decolonization for the UN General Assembly to examine the case of Puerto Rico. Equally, the Council agreed to endorse the Declaration adopted by the SI Mediterranean Committee at its recent meeting in Barcelona which covers a wide range of issues in relation to that region and on Western Sahara.
 
The Finance and Administration Committee and the Ethics Committee both presented their reports, which were subsequently adopted.
 
At this Council meeting two new Vice-Presidents were elected, Miguel Vargas Maldonado, the President of the Dominican Revolutionary Party, PRD, Dominican Republic, and Sigmar Gabriel, the new Leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, SPD.

List of Participants
 
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