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THE LOME - COTONOU CONVENTIONS AND THE ASSOCIATION

BETWEEN THE EUROPEAN UNION AND AFRICAN, CARIBBEAN

AND PACIFIC COUNTRIES

Even though the EEC-ACP association occupies just a minor position in the world system, its importance in matters concerning the analysis of Africa's position in the world system calls for an analysis of its particular aspects.

(i) Do the European Union and the ACP countries want to establish their relations within an original regionalism formed by two groups, composed of a developed and an underdeveloped set respectively, with the ultimate objective of fighting the system's natural tendencies towards polarisation ?

(ii) In this plan, what is the position of the Europeans' concern to guarantee their security in commodities if, following the fourfold increase in oil price decided by the OPEC countries in 1973, the ruling classes of the South at one point appeared willing to put their natural resources in the service of their industrialisation ?

(iii) In the case of the weak Third World States, does this not pre-eminently mean subscribing to a context guaranteeing a rent needed for reproducing and expanding their ruling and middle classes ?

Eventually, is the ultimate objective to create within the world system a "region" that can face the neo-liberal challenge and participate in the construction of a multicentric global system whereby the economy would be put in the service of the peoples, or does it consist in limited arrangements in the service of oligopolies and dominant classes ?


Initially, the objectives of the Lomé agreements was not to put external relations in the service of positive economic, political and cultural changes for African people but rather to strengthen Europe's economic and geopolitical position in the world system. In other words, the developmental dimension was a secondary element less important than the political one. It was pre-eminently a question of supporting the so-called "moderate" States and strengthening tendencies in this direction elsewhere, or undermining the populist developmental aspirations experimented and mobilising to their advantage the geopolitical competition of the two super-powers involved in the cold war.

In the new neo-liberal perspective, the reorganisation of Euro-African relations comes within the framework outlined by WTO, thereby consolidating the centres' monopolies in decisive sectors including control of access to natural resources, generating new technologies and organisation of the monetary and financial system.

In this spirit, the regionalisations derive their rationality from their capacity to create areas for the optimal deployment of activities of the multinational oligopolies.

Efforts should be made to develop the forms of resistance to this notion in Africa for the following reasons :

(i) Regions and countries that are not interested in this perspective are actually excluded from the potential benefits of regionalisation.

(ii) Increased polarisation and exclusion will result in migratory movements that will be difficult to manage especially since neo-liberalism ignores free movement of workers.

(iii) The plan implicitly integrates military alliances that make the recalcitrant South countries vulnerable.

Envisaged in this fashion, the regionalisation of Euro-African relations would be totally compatible with the management of internal conflicts created in the Africa marginalised by social disintegration.

As a counterpoint, the alternative can be established only on the following principles :

(i) The main objective of this regionalised co-operation associating industrial countries and fourth world countries must be to promote an international division of labour compatible with the exigencies of the modern world that should not be a priori excluded for the mere reason that it might not be of economic interest to the multinationals or of strategic interest to the States.

(ii) Measures must be taken to encourage the emergence and development of democratic forces of change and the civil society's participation in the debate on modalities for regionalised co-operation should be organised systematically.

Reading between the lines, one could discern behind the partnership between EEC and African countries, Europe's concern to obtain during the 1960s and 1970s, a constant supply of tropical agricultural products, minerals and petroleum products. Neo-liberal fundamentalism deliberately ignores the objectives of this nature as the market itself has to resolve such problems and development is nothing other than the outcome of the action of private enterprise. However, the States actually continue to be concerned about all these problems which the handbooks of economics ignore. The gap between the neo-liberal rhetoric and the reality therefore accounts for a confusion of the divided, shapeless and contradictory views to an extreme degree.

Now modelled on the simple rhetoric of the World Bank, IMF and WTO, Europe has unreservedly subscribed to the universal medical prescription for the structural adjustment programmes for the moment and to the illusion that private foreign investment would provide solutions to development problems in the longer term.

The local authorities sometimes tried to hold out against Structural Adjustment Programmes that ended the expansion of their social base (or even bluntly imposed its shrinkage) thereby making them lose all legitimacy. The external debt burden and corruption in government circles were bound to annihilate their leeway, and at the same time prevent them from embarking on self-adjustment, in addition to forcing the authorities to comply with the daily orders issued by international institutions assigned to manage their crisis directly.

However, the greatest confusion characterises these injunctions, which are often governed by the transient methods and moods of the G7. In this mood, there is a succession of views and fashions about poverty alleviation, respect for human rights, sustainable development, plural democracy, etc., without the least desire to analyse the contradictions between these noble objectives and stagnation or even the involutions engendered by the implementation of neo-liberal deregulations.

Is it possible today to assess the EEC-ACP partnership agreements in question ? Certainly, one should be careful not to hold these agreements alone responsible for the evolution of the continent during the last few decades. The reality lies in the combined effect of typically internal processes and the influence of external factors (in this case, including these agreements). The fact remains that the radical African regimes had at their time qualified the 1961 Conventions of Yaoundé as << neo-colonial >> and they did not join the Lomé group until much later, for fear of being denied access to the financial markets. A rigorous analysis of responsibilities in the region's development therefore necessitates the reflection, as clearly as possible, of the positive and negative tendencies operating within the region's societies strengthened by the logic of the Lomé Conventions.

In any case, the result is not impressive. The per capita product in Sub-Saharan Africa increased just at an average rate of 0.40 % annually between 1962 and 1992, as compared to 2.3 % for all the developing countries. This figure reflects a much lower economic growth (3.3 % annually) as well as higher population growth rates (3.9 % per annum). Consequently, the difference between per capita product of Sub-Saharan Africa and that of the other developing countries only widened : it is now established around 1 to 4 and could increase from 1 to 6 in about fifteen years' time.

This already unfavourable result simply in terms of growth rates will certainly appear even worse if one takes into account the reversal of financial flow balance, capital transfers abroad from Africa (to countries of the North, particularly European countries) that now prevail over the inverse capital public and private flows. This reversal, which is not specific to Africa, since it also concerns the entire Third World (China being the unique exception) virtually nullifies all views that can be expressed about a "developmental revival" based on the principles of the dominant neo-liberalism. If truly desired, the revival entails distancing oneself from the absurd dogmatic concept of "pure" economy. European authorities are not willing to review this dogmatic aspect.

The assessment presented this way will be incomplete so long as the trend of income distribution accompanying the implementation of the strategies in question is not taken into consideration. For one thing, this income distribution has developed and is developing in a negative direction, the type marked by increased inequality which, in turn, results in waste of investments (priority being actually given to expensive investments intended to meet requirements of the privileged classes). Income distribution is not unrelated to strategic development options. On the contrary, they are closely associated. Far from guaranteeing an optimal allocation of resources, as purported by the neo-liberal discourse, the neo-liberal options of uncontrolled globalisation results in a disastrous allocation of particularly scarce resources (capital, technologies and skilled labour).

We will continue to examine the reasons for this development fiasco by highlighting the following points :

(i) The close relationship between the general poor growth and the failure of agricultural development : the agricultural potential is so poorly exploited that food production does not provide adequately for the population's needs and the structural deficit is likely to be aggravated.

(ii) The marginalisation of Africa in world trade : the region's share of imports from the European Union dropped from 3.9 % in 1976 to 2.8 % in 1994, while that of Asia increased from 9 % to 13 %. These poor results have been so, especially since the oil-rich countries of the group alone account for 67 % of the region's total exports and that the decrease in the region's exports to the European Union has not been compensated by an opening onto other world markets, once the level of dependence on the European market has not been reduced.

In this context then, are these partnership agreements not responsible - at least partially - since, by virtue of their privileged intervention in favour of primary commodities (through the Stabex and Sysmin mechanisms), they encouraged Africa to remain in this type of international division of labour that is being overtaken by events elsewhere, as illustrated by the success of the new industrial countries whose exports in the form of manufactured goods have had a stimulating effect ? How can one hope for successes in terms of global growth if development is based on so-called comparative advantages enshrined in low-productivity products that are moreover destined to be affected by the deteriorating terms of trade ?

(iii) The marginalisation of Africa in international investment : although the European Union provides half of ACP's external financial resources, it was thanks to the continued increase in the flow of public assistance that this proportion was maintained, while the opening of the economies ended in the withdrawal of private capital investments.

The partnership agreements also deal with matters concerning regionalisation within the ACP group. In this domain, however, they manage with ordinary systems that merely take account of what really exists (such as the CFA monetary zone) or in the rhetoric of inactive institutions ( ECOWAS and others). There is nothing comparable with the logic of the Marshall Plan that had imposed a constraining intra-European co-operation as a condition for United States' support. In reality then, the decades considered (from 1960 to date) have not brought about an intensification of intra-African trade. At this level too, Africa is overtaken by Asia and Latin America. Once more, this unfavourable trend certainly cannot be attributed to the partnership agreements alone. It is the outcome of the overall development strategy considered, that has mainly been "nationalistic" in the sense that it envisaged only strictly national economic policies, without giving importance to a necessary perspective of regionalisation - except, in fact, in the rhetoric concerning "regional co-operation". The radical populists alone could not be held responsible for this "nationalism" since the "moderate liberals" also acted similarly.

Finally, the European Union does not appear to have defined an environmental policy that takes account of environmental degradation in Africa.

Despite their inherent inadequacies, the partnership agreements comprise a potentially positive aspect from the perspective of the principle : that of asserting a joint responsibility of the developed States (those of the European Union) and the so-called developing States (the ACP countries) in the development process. In fact, the principle remained asserted, even though in its progressive potential, the actual implementation of the principle was greatly impeded by the nature and options of the dominant forces in the European States themselves and by those of the associated African ruling classes. This constituted an exception because neither the United States nor the international instruments unreservedly loyal to them (the World Bank, IMF and WTO) ever agreed to subscribe to the principle.

Certainly, behind the Lomé agreements loomed "particular interests" inherited from colonial history, which is gradually losing momentum. However, this situation was also due to the phenomenon referred to as the "cold war". At that time, USSR and China actively supported the Non - Aligned Movement which was eventually adopted by all the African States, including even the most moderate ones (the pro-Western or even anti- Soviet elements). Europe was tempted to respect - at least officially - the independence of the ACP States and accept the principle of (financial) support to strategies freely decided by their partners. No conditionality of the compulsory privatisation type or abrogation of exchange control was conceivable at that time. In renouncing this principle to place Euro-African relations henceforth in the framework of the liberal globalisation dubbed "without alternative", the European Union took a great step back. The European Union has substituted a new principle for the one it abandoned. In fact, the Union claims that it hopes to strengthen its economic co-operation with the ACP countries through a "political dialogue" and has adopted, in this perspective, the theme of democratisation. However pleasant the principle governing this option may be, the said option runs the risk of getting bogged down in rhetoric and manipulation if the debate does not dare to tackle firmly the issues concerning the content and social conditions of the democracy in question as well as those pertaining to the exigencies of economic policy that it implies.

III. THE EURO-MEDITERRANEAN PARTNERSHIP

Europe and the Arab world are two regions which have maintained complex relations throughout their history on account of their geographic proximity and their common Hellenistic ancestry from which originated Christianity and Islam. However, the North-South demarcation between "developed" Europe and the "under-developed" Arab world, such as we know, was definitively established only belatedly, with the capitalist expansion reinforced by the colonisation of the South segment that ended only recently (the British left Egypt only in 1954 and even tried to return there in 1956 and the French did not recognise Algeria's independence until 1962).

In the post-Second World War period, the relations between Europe and the Arab world came within the dominant logic of the United States' geopolitics and geo-strategy. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)actually considered the Arab world as an opponent while the Soviet Union supported the Arab world's attempts at autonomous development. Having withdrawn from the region, Europe allowed the United States to operate there alone, the support of their loyal allies, such as Turkey, Israel and the governments of the Gulf and thus guaranteed the vital oil supply to Europe.

Was the disappearance of the Soviet opponent going to open new prospects for genuine co-operation between the European Union and the Arab world ? One could have thought so at one point when Europe took the initiative in formulating in Barcelona in 1995 a proposal designated as "Euro-Mediterranean" partnership. Today, it can only be noticed that this process is not just "at a standstill" but that it has collapsed.

The reason is that the project itself had been designed on the basis of an unacceptable and incredible principle and could therefore not be implemented, even if some of its promoters must have been well-intentioned partners.

The European partner rallies not only the Mediterranean Europeans but all countries of the European Union. It is a right for Europeans, which, in fact, nobody can call into question (the right to think of sharing common interests and of having to contemplate a common future). That is an indisputable right for all Europeans, even if those in each of the concerned countries also have the right to criticise (as done by some people) the European project as it stands today.

The other partner is curious ; it is composed of all the riparian entities along the South and East coast of the Mediterranean. However, the majority of these riparian elements happen to be Arab countries that also belong to a distinct world : the Arab world. Whether a nationalistic Arab or not, this world exists and it should therefore be recognised that the Arab world could have certain common tendencies, a certain sense of common interest and a common vision of its integration into the contemporary world. Separating the Mediterranean Arab countries from the non-Mediterranean Arab countries is actually unacceptable. What is needed is therefore a Euro-Arab agreement -- in other words, an agreement between all the European countries and all the Arab, regardless of whether they are Mediterranean or not. The Mediterranean concept is meaningful only if entails rallying all the riparian countries around problems concerning the common sea, for instance in the area of pollution. It is not on this narrow basis that one can contemplate the future of relations between Europe and this small portion of the South known as the Arab world.

On the other hand, the era of the Barcelona Conference (1995) was also that of the Madrid and Oslo Conferences, that is a period when a certain type of peace between Arabs and Israel was being promoted under the leadership of the Americans. In this way, the Europeans implemented a strategy complementary to that of the United States and Israel, aimed at dictating the content of the said peace. A kind of peace imagined on a basis that should have been perceived in advance as unacceptable, since it was equivalent to the establishment of a Bantustan - there could not be a better term - in the occupied territories of Palestine.

It is at this moment and in this geographical context that the Euro-Mediterranean project was contemplated. It consisted in using the new international economic situation to impose on the Arabs Israel's integration into the region and posing as a condition for co-operation between Europe and the Arab countries, a similar co-operation between the Arab countries themselves and Israel… By comparison, it is a little as if, in the apartheid era, Europe had forced the African States to regularise their diplomatic and other relations with South Africa as a condition for the support and co-operation that the Europeans were offering them.

As an apartheid country, Israel has been implementing a policy of systematic ethnic purge. It is unacceptable to put up with Israel, let alone supporting it. Israel should be boycotted by all civilised countries of the world.

At present, the tragedy developing in Palestine call for a strong international political intervention accompanied by effective measures for a serious boycott of Israel until this State recognises the State of Palestine. Europe intervened clamorously in Kosovo to defend a lesser cause than that of Palestine, but it tolerates that the government of Israel be entrusted to a real war criminal who, in fact, has personally proclaimed his rejection of the Madrid and Oslo agreements ! It is true that in the case of Yugoslavia, Europe only stood by a decision previously taken in Washington. On the contrary, in taking an autonomous stand on Palestine, Europe has to distance itself from the United States, which is obviously difficult. It also proves that political Europe does not exist.

The so-called European proposals for "Euro-Mediterranean partnership" also include an economic component about which the European institutions claimed to have made "new efforts" in qualifying their proposals as coming within the framework of "mutual development", "partnership" and "joint development", in place of "aid", the devalued term.

An analysis of these proposals shows that it is nothing of the sort. All these proposals absolutely come within the exclusive logic of globalised neo-liberalism (opening markets, creating "enabling" conditions for foreign investment, deregulating and defusing protections, etc.) as formulated by the United States, WTO, the World Bank and IMF. Submission to the rules defined by these authorities, including the so-called "structural adjustment" plans is moreover formulated as a pre-condition for implementation of the European proposals. Here too, the real position of Europe is not different from that of the United States. In both its political and economic dimensions Europe's proposals currently form part of a dominant twofold alignment: liberal globalisation and United States' hegemonism. The two elements are interrelated. Accepting the exclusive logic of liberal globalisation means accepting to give priority or the very exclusive importance to the interests of the dominant capital. At any rate, the interests of the European dominant capital are not fundamentally different from the interests of the North American dominant capital. Of course, there are conflicts, but they are common mercantile conflicts of the same kind as the conflicts that can crop up between multinationals of a given country. Europe's possible autonomy vis-à-vis the United States cannot be assumed on this basis.

Other conditions are also imposed by the European partner. Is the reference to respect for human rights as a theoretical condition of the partnership agreements desirable ? Certainly, even if signed by governments that do not intend to implement its provisions, a charter can become a lever that can be utilised by victims of a system. However, this instrument will at best remain marginal because the struggle for democracy is pre-eminently the peoples' affair that must be managed in the concerned country itself. Internationalism in this field is very useful, but it is mainly through internal struggles and mobilisation of democratic forces within the societies that the change can be fostered. What the external entity can do is precisely to support them and not to fight them.

However, the use that the Great Powers (Europe in this case) intend to make of such interventions in the name of democracy remains dubious. The examples of "double standards" - which are numerous and obvious - show that this type of utilisation is absolutely cynical : the tool is mobilised against an opponent to be weakened but it is put away in the face of an ally. Moreover, the dominant concept at present is that of good governance, to use the jargon in fashion ; in other words, the concept of acceptable governability. Alas, this is a poor concept that limits democracy to multiparty systems, formal elections and respect for a number of individual elementary rights, without recognising social, individual and collective rights, the right to work, education, health and freedom of movement within and outside one's own country. Yet the rights constitute a whole set comprising inseparable elements. If they are not accompanied by the other rights, then political rights become instruments that can be and are manipulated and therefore undermine the cause of democracy since they destroy its credibility among the peoples themselves.

THE DESIRABLE ALTERNATIVE IN TERMS OF REGIONALISATION

Africa and the Arab world are not really on course for any effective regionalisation, apart from those ordered from outside and dominated by the North, despite the proliferation of institutions that finally constitute a mere window-dressing.

However, the region needs appropriate and effective forms of regionalisation. These should be thought up by analysing challenges of the contemporary world (especially the great trends shaping tomorrow's world) and the requirements for authentic development, as a counterpoint. Authentic development is meaningful provided it is popular in the sense that its benefits are immediately shared by all the popular classes and are not the prerogative of a minority group. Moreover, that is the necessary condition for associating development with a democratisation process likely to be entrenched. The model of this type of development that could be deployed simultaneously at national or sub-regional levels or in the large region representing the continent as a whole would then occupy its position in the construction of a multipolar globalisation, the sole alternative to the unbalanced and polarising globalisation implemented by the dominant forces of the moment.

What we are proposing here is just a plan of the regional response to these challenges, and not a "detailed" project on any account. This plan therefore emphasises the proposed principles ignored quite obviously, as will eventually be discovered, in current practices and in the rhetoric of the dominant discourse about regionalisation.

Regions of the Third World in general, and Africa in particular, must design forms of regionalisation that could enhance their capacity to resist the new forms of polarisation operating in the global system. The term "new" should be strongly emphasised.

This element is desirable because the polarisation in the world system no longer operates the way it did in the course of the last two centuries.

The polarisation of the "classical" period was virtually synonymous with the contrast between industrialised and non-industrialised countries. The monopoly of centres, which allowed for the reproduction and intensification of unbalanced accumulation worldwide, was that of industrialisation. This contrast established the forms whereby the law of globalised value operated at this stage of globalisation ; forms whose expressions gave food for thought during the major debates of that period ("unequal exchange" in particular).

At that time, the response to the challenge could obviously be summed up in one word : industrialisation. Another observation was that it was then not absurd to think that a large entity was less difficult to industrialise than a small one so regionalisation could be an appropriate means of overcoming the difficulty. Hence, the large regional zone could be designed as a place for sectored and selective planning of complementarities between the national productive systems to be established. At the same time, it could be designed as a "common market", even though the latter had to be considered as an area for collective protection from the developed centres.

Even in the absence of effective achievements, the regionalisation projects in Africa and in the Arab world already could not meet the exigencies of the period. They were based on the simple idea of creating “common markets” in imitation of the European model, without assessing the actual exigencies inherent in facing the challenge. In fact, the social challenge demanded at least that two sets of measures be taken beyond the mere establishment of common markets. The first concerns the motivation from States and regional authorities, necessary for the creation of non-existent productive systems (whereas in Europe the common market operated in a universe of already developed industrial systems). The second pertains to protection of the new integrated zone. The African common markets proposed at that time were silent about the first set and shy of the second.

Today, it is even no longer a question of conceptualising the possible common markets as protected areas. That is formally prohibited by WTO rules, regionalisation being tolerated only insofar as it comes in the framework of an open globalisation. In this context, protection is not acceptable unless it is moderated and especially “provisional” since it must only render the local activities rapidly “competitive” on an open world market. There is something ridiculous here : requesting an African country to become competitive in any field of economic activity in some years or even within twenty years is meaningless. A productive mine (based on a rich natural endowment) or an ordinary subcontracting industrial establishment (whose “advantage” is therefore comparable to that of cheap labour and slight taxation) could certainly be “competitive” in this sense, whereas the national productive system could not. Under the circumstances, the possible increase in “competitive activities” could only replicate the polarisation to which the given country fell victim.

The polarisation operating within the world system today is no longer based on the sole industrial monopoly of the centres. It is because the major peripheries in turn have now entered the industrial era (even though Africa has actually not done so). The industrial monopoly of the past is now substituted by what I proposed to classify under one of the headings of the “five monopolies” of the centres : technological initiative, access to world natural resources, control of financial globalisation, communications and weapons of mass destruction. If taken together, these five monopolies define one form and a new context of the law of globalised value on the basis of which accumulation at the world level replicates and intensifies the polarisation process.

Under these new conditions, the national development strategies and regionalisation structures destined to enhance their efficiency should be perceived as the means of facing these five challenges.

A regionalisation project in the Third World today is meaningless if it does not constitute the mechanism for establishing adequate facilities for effectual scientific and technological research capable of developing appropriate technologies and promoting their diffusion and effective use - through protection - in any given regional entity. For example, promoting pharmaceutical research and establishing a pharmaceutical industry to combat AIDS (and other no less destructive pandemic diseases) in Africa. Doing so means entering into conflict (and it must be admitted) with the rules of the so-called protection of intellectual and industrial property, in this case, those of the pharmaceutical oligopolies of countries of the North which are not interested in AIDS eradication in Africa (which entails the use of less expensive products) but rather defending the substantial proceeds they realise from the sale of their expensive products. Is that impossible ? Cuba has created a remarkable medical and pharmaceutical industry. Why could Africa not do the same ? Many examples could be cited among others in the fields of agriculture and irrigation.

A regionalisation project in the Third World today is meaningless if it does not envisage ways and means of using the region's natural resources primarily for the development of the region instead of world consumption (in this case, consumption by countries of the North). In other words, exploiting such resources (minerals and oil in particular) only in proportion to the needs of the region and its exports in demand to pay for the necessary imports. The principles of liberal globalisation call for the opposite : exporting at the maximum capacity, even if it means sacrificing the future of Third World peoples to accommodate the immediate waste of resources by countries of the North… One of the priority objectives of regionalisation must be to break the centres' monopoly of access to world resources. A taxation system in respect of income from exploitation of natural resources could be imagined at the regional level as a means of sharing its proceeds among the States and regional institutions (to facilitate, for instance, the coverage of their technological research expenditures outlined in the previous paragraph). A global taxation system would thus be initiated and this would compel consumers in the North to pay a higher price for access to world resources than the implicit cost of their waste.

A regionalisation project in the Third World is meaningless if it does not allow for the establishment of a regional financial system capable of resisting the financial globalisation implemented by the dominant capital. A system of national currencies correctly managed (while capital flow is still controlled) and articulated at the regional level by a Monetary Fund with responsibility to ensure a relative stability of exchanges within the region, can be imagined if there is a bold attempt to be liberated from the IMF diktat. The region could then refuse collectively what financial globalisation imposes on it, including the opening of capital accounts.

The implementation of regional communication systems, destined to confer on each region some relative autonomy vis-à-vis the globalised system that does not only serve as a vehicle for dominant cultures and sub-cultures but also operates as a powerful instrument of political manipulation, entails not only the solution to technological problems (which should therefore appear in the list of priorities of the research outlined above). It also implies a difficult consensus on the political and cultural options of countries of the region, nevertheless conceivable if the national and regional structures are based on the principles of the best democracy. Some regional formations of this kind would also pave the way for the democratisation of the global system.

The monopoly of weapons of mass destruction should also be broken. There too, the responses to the challenge - national and regional - entail not only difficult but conceivable agreements, for example, those for the creation of collective task forces (OAU would definitely need them !), not only - alas - the creation of efficient arms industries (pending the time when the North will renounce its “right” to interfere… and to bomb recalcitrant parties) but also and, of course, the sharing of a common vision of regional security as a complement to that of the singular Nations.

It could be objected that what has just been said about responses to the challenge posed by the “five monopolies” is probably valid for the giant countries (China, India and Brazil) which have the advantage of doing without “regionalisations” (and moreover, these three countries are to some extent not insensitive to the challenges posed by the “five monopolies”, which they have been facing, at least partially, through their specific national policies) or perhaps for the regions of Asia and Latin America that are already advanced in the field of industrialisation. However, the fact that the forms of regionalisation devised for the previous phase of global development are still valid for Africa, since the continent has not really entered the era of industrialisation, is partly true, provided that it be a question of regional protection from an industrialisation to be realised seriously and at the maximum rather than the minimum level. That is partly true because, Africa, indisputably, is also part parcel of the world today and should therefore participate in the fight against the new forms of domination by the North and the related polarisation.

The principles of regionalisation outlined above naturally come within the perspective of a democratic and multi-centric globalisation.

The principles of this form of regionalisation are reasonable and efficient means of combating the polarising effects of the five monopolies of the triad. From that premise, the world order could be reviewed so as to propose the central themes and objectives of the high-level negotiations on at least the following topical issues likely to organise a supervised interdependence between countries and regions committed to the service of the populations :

- Renegotiating "market shares" and their access rules. Of course, this project calls into question the rules of WTO which, under the pretext of a discourse on "fair competition", applies itself solely to defending privileges of the active oligopolies worldwide.

- Renegotiating financial market systems, with a view to stemming the domination of operations for financial speculation and channelling investments towards productive activities in the North and South alike. This project calls into question the functions, and no doubt, the very existence of the World Bank.

- Renegotiating monetary systems so as to establish agreements and regional mechanisms guaranteeing a relative stability of foreign exchange transactions that should be completed by organising their interdependence. This project calls into question, IMF, the dollar standard and the principle of free and fluctuating foreign exchange transactions.

- Initiating a global taxation system by establishing taxes on income realised from the exploitation of natural resources and redistributing them at national, regional and international levels on the basis of appropriate criteria and for specified uses. The Greens (Ecologists) should support such an idea if they are serious and consistent with the principles they proclaim to be theirs.

- Demilitarising the Planet, by first reducing weapons of mass destruction at the disposal of the major Powers.

- Democratising UNO and international law.

In this perspective reconciling globalisation and local and regional autonomies (which I call delinking consistent with the new challenges), there is provision for a serious review of the concepts of "aid", and for problems connected with democratisation of the United Nations system, that could therefore concentrate efficiently on certain objectives of disarmament (rendered possible by the national and regional security systems associated with regional reconstruction), initiate the establishment of a globalised taxation (in relation with the management of national resources of the Planet), accomplish the functions of UNO as an inter-state organisation by initiating the creation of a "World Parliament" that can reconcile the exigencies of universalism (individual, community and peoples' rights, political and social rights, etc.) and the diversity of the historical and cultural heritage.

The programme outlined here is not solely aimed at modulating market regulation systems to protect the weak (classes and nations). Its political component is no less important. The central ideas that guided the writing of the paper pertain to disarmament and the need to formulate a new international law governing individuals, peoples and States.

As regards disarmament, the dominant discourse hackneyed by the media, in light of the dangers inherent in the "proliferation" of nuclear weapons and others, is truly out of place because, as a military power, America has opted for terrorist bombing and would obviously not hesitate to use nuclear weapons if it found that strategy necessary. Faced with this major threat, the other countries of the world can only react by resolving to build up military forces capable of dissuading imperialist aggression by rendering it expensive. That is the price to pay for peace.

Can one also hope to develop a new substantive law that will guarantee for all human beings on this earth a dignified treatment, as a condition for their active and inventive participation in the construction of the future ? A substantive and multi-dimensional law that will treat the rights of human beings (men and women of course, as perfectly equal beings), political rights, social rights (work and security), community and peoples' rights and eventually, the rights governing inter-state relations. That is certainly an agenda to span decades of reflection, debates, actions and decisions.

The principle of respect for national sovereignty must remain the cornerstone of international law. Indeed, if the Charter of the United Nations chose to proclaim that principle, it was precisely because the principle had been denied by fascist powers. In his poignant speech delivered in 1935 before the SDN, Emperor Haile Selassie clearly indicated that the violation of this principle – cowardly abandoned by the then democracies - tolled the death knell of this organisation. The fact that this fundamental principle is again violated today with so much brutality by the democracies themselves does not constitute a mitigating circumstance but rather an aggravating circumstance. Incidentally, this situation already launched the far-from-glorious end of a UNO viewed as a registration room for decisions taken elsewhere and implemented by others. The official adoption of the principle of national sovereignty in 1945 was logically accompanied by the prohibition of recourse to war. States were authorised to defend themselves against whoever violated their sovereignty through aggression, but condemned in advance if they were aggressors. Today, it is the powers associated in NATO which must be condemned in this regard in conformity with the law in force.

No doubt, the United Nations Charter had given an absolute interpretation of the principle of sovereignty. The fact that today the democratic opinion no longer accepts that this principle authorise governments to do as they choose with human beings placed under their jurisdiction constitutes an undeniable progress of universal conscience. How can these two potentially conflicting principles be reconciled ? Certainly, not by suppressing one of their terms - sovereignty of States or human rights. It is because apart from the fact that the option made by the United States and its trailing subordinated European allies is certainly not the good one, it conceals the real objectives of the operation which have nothing to do with respect for human rights despite the media hype intended to make it credible.

UNO is the place where international law should be developed. There can be no other respectable places. Whether this entails organisational reforms, a review of the ways and means (including institutional innovation) of ensuring the representation of real social forces in the system alongside the governments (that, at best, represent them so imperfectly), whether it be a question of assigning oneself the objective of incorporating into a coherent entity the rules of international law (respect for sovereignty), those concerning economic and social rights neglected in the liberal vulgate, which necessarily call for regulation of markets -- these offer enough material to pad out an agenda full of questions to which I will not seek to provide, in this paper, answers that would inevitably be too brief. It certainly constitutes a long process without a short cut ; for one thing, the history of mankind has not ended and will continue to progress according to its possibilities.

The multi-centric and democratic global system advocated here does not constitute the "end of history" ; it is only a stage in the long progress of social values towards the constitution of a world society based on human solidarity rather than the selfishness of individuals and nations.

In this transition, emphasis is actually laid on three principles mostly neglected in the 20th Century experiences which moreover reflect the underlying trends in the global transformation. It primarily concerns the principle of a democratisation perceived as an endless multidimensional process, which helps to initiate the raising of awareness about the nature of the economist alienation to be combated. This process therefore involves a gradual transition from projects and visions about the progress from liberation in capitalism to those concerning liberation from capitalism. In the second place, the humanistic vision of the world, which advocates the establishment of individual and community rights in positions of responsibility (in place of commercial law, in other words, the law in the service of capital) helps to promote a people's internationalism, which acts as a counterbalance to the trans-nationalism of capital. Finally, in the third place, regionalisations are viewed from a perspective that makes them efficient tools for reducing the polarising effects of capital flow.

We can now consider the questions concerning a possible North-South partnership, distinguished by a new type of co-operation "project" associating Europe, Africa and the Arab world.

The dominant Europe on the one hand, and the dominated Africa and the Arab world on the other hand, have been closely associated by geography - and perhaps history - for better and especially for worse (imperialism). Can one imagine a new type of "cooperation" between these three regions for the construction of the democratic multipolar and regionalised world outlined above ? What are the conditions for such a project ?

The objectives of a project with such an ambition must be clarified. They could only consist in : (i) bridging the gap between the various partners of the region : Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the former USSR, poor semi-industrialised Arab countries, rich oil-producing countries, Sub-Saharan African countries and South Africa ; (ii) ensuring a sufficient degree of autonomy for the concerned regions and sub-regions in order to take account of the disparities between the various parties that could provide effective solutions to their social problems ; and (iii) guaranteeing the supervised open policy of countries of the region in their international relations and in their relations with other regions of the world.

It is more than obvious that the realisation of these objectives would necessitate a deep transformation of the structures of the powers that be. More precisely, this transformation is unbelievable without imagining : (i) that a hegemony of labour is replacing that of capital ; (ii) that popular social alliance is taking shape in Russia and in the member countries of the former USSR (as in the countries of Eastern Europe), thereby taking over from the political bureaucracies and the confused, ambiguous populist and nationalist forces ; and (iii) that some popular national alliances are developing in Africa and in the Arab world in place of the existing compradore hegemonies.

To Europe, in the broad sense of the word, even though it is vague, the concept of "common house" might certainly correspond to the exigencies of the envisaged construction, for it implies a margin of relative autonomy necessary for the deployment of appropriate specific policies of all the parties among the partners. The system does not exclude the more comprehensive forms of integration between the more advanced countries. The European Union might form this unit if it could be re-established on the basis of the hegemony of labour, a concept that does not exist in the current state of its institutionalisation. The outcome of this form of European regionalisation at several stages would be African Unity and Arab Unity, which will also be conceptualised at various stages. The construction of the Europe - Africa - Arab World entity might obviously require that the three regions agree to strengthen one another and operate in a direction that would consolidate their respective units. That is not the case because Europe has not yet expressed its desire to deal with the group composed of Africans and Arabs. The European Union does not recognise OAU and the Arab League and it only accepts to deal individually with the countries forming these organisations. It is therefore incumbent on the Africans and Arabs to impose their recognition.

On the other hand, the present state of social power struggles certainly does not make it possible to imagine that the upheavals of this scope are of topical interest. The social agents who would objectively have benefited from such an outcome are merely potential agents, and are far from crystallising into political forces capable of proposing revolutions of this magnitude. Those in the forefront of the scene operate in directions that do not converge on the objectives defined earlier in this paper. It is quite the opposite.

Under the circumstances, behind the current "Euro-African" and "Euro-Arab" projects is a looming collective neo-imperialist project with Western Europe dominating "its" African and Arab South and "its" latin-americanised East to its advantage.

This project can still inspire the nostalgic daydreams of the colonial past. Is it necessarily realistic under the present global circumstances ? No. Even the Gulf War has shown that United States of America alone wanted to control the Middle East and its oil (with the support of its ardent Israeli and Turkish allies). Europe itself has no collective political vision of the world. Since 1945, Great Britain has made an apparently definitive option of siding unreservedly with the big brother of North America and reliving its imperialist past by proxy through the big brother. For its part, Germany, having renounced its wildest Nazi-specific dream about global hegemony, has opted to resume its traditional expansion towards Eastern Europe, to content itself with the "latin-americanisation" of this Eastern segment to its advantage and to conform in other areas to the positions of the United States' hegemonic project. On the other hand, France, having renounced the Gaullist principle of refusing to blend its own interests with those of Washington, is being marginalised.

Under the circumstances, it can only be concluded that, at present, no Euro-Arab--African regionalisation project worthy of this name exists.

Many are the critical readers who might describe the principles of the propositions in this paper as “unrealistic” and therefore refuse to engage in the discussion they may consider unnecessary. Their “realism” consists in believing that “the fiddling within the system”, as it stands now, however that may be, constitutes the sole option possible allowing for progress”. History seldom justifies this type of fiddling. In fact, the “realistic” politicians of colonial Africa behaved that way and refused to follow the minority avant-garde that boldly proclaimed independence as the only prospect that could motivate their engagement in the struggle. History has proved this avant-garde right. Whereas politicking is probably the art of acting intelligently in the context of well-defined power balances, authentic politics is the art of modifying such power balances.

Intellectuals must dare to think, speak out and make proposals. It is on this condition that creative utopia helps to discover the sole prospect that is truly realistic ; in other words, the type that can rapidly mobilise powerful social forces that eventually impose its logic once the social movement begins to be aware of it. If there be a utopia, in the plain and negative sense of the term, it is actually that of "realists" who do not think they must and can pull out of the dominant theories. Their interventions have no impact. If intellectuals give up the idea of fulfilling their critical function, they become puppets, worthless parasites.

 

 

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