Activist manifesto on global institutions

10 September 2003

A new book challenges global institutions and anti-globalisation activists with proposals for stronger but radically reformed global governance. George Monbiot, a UK-based author, comments that because “the international institutions have been captured by the dictatorship of vested interests is not an argument against the existence of international institutions, but a reason for overthrowing them”. Indeed global measures and institutions are vital for the public interest. He proposes a democratically elected world parliament, a democratised UN Security Council, an International Clearing Union to replace the IMF and a Fair Trade Organisation to replace the WTO.

Monbiot writes that the World Bank and IMF were “destined to fail, a failure predicted by many of the world’s foremost economists at the time of their creation”. He says that all the proposals for changing the institutions overlook the US government’s constitutional veto on major changes. The only way, he argues, to shift these organisations is for indebted countries to hold the rich world to ransom by attaching conditionalities to the repayment of their debts. By threatening to default they can demand the introduction of International Clearing Union originally proposed by Maynard Keynes at the Bretton Woods conference in 1944. This would impose measures to balance trade surpluses and deficits, thus redistributing wealth and preventing international debt build-up.