New Vision Amid the Economic Crisis: 2nd April 2009
House of Commons Committee Room 14
2:30 – 5:30pm Thursday 2nd April 2009
While the G20 Summit was meeting in the Excel Centre and violent demonstrations were disturbing the City of London’s banking sector, the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) was holding a conference with civil society and faith-based groups in the House of Parliament’s largest committee room, entitled, ‘New Vision Amid the Economic Crisis’. This contrasted the moral vision promoted by civil society and faith based groups with the pragmatic approach of the G20 Nations’ Summit. Many in the session echoed the ‘Put People First’ demonstration theme that this was a time for a new perspective and not just a return to ‘business as usual’. In the lead up to the G20 UPF had issued a Statement emphasising the need for ethical change:
‘If there is to be lasting change, the G-20 must acknowledge that the current financial crisis did not happen by accident, and it was by no means inevitable. The root cause of the problem has as much to do with moral, indeed spiritual failure, as governmental or financial mismanagement. For this reason, improved fiscal, economic and trade policies alone are not enough. The attitudes and behaviour of people, institutions and even entire nations must change.’
Lord King, a Patron of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) – UK, warmly welcomed the conference to the Houses of Parliament. He acknowledged that there were two sections, the perception of faith groups and the analysis of the economic crisis by activist organisations.
Civil society groups representatives, such as Nick Dearden, the President of Jubilee Debt Campaign, saw this crisis as an opportunity to rethink the fairness of our economic system rather than going back to business as usual after the crisis is over. There is a $3 trillion debt owed by the poorest parts of the world to the richest parts of the world. For every £1 we give in aid, poor nations pay £5 in debt payments.
Ruth Tanner, the Campaign and Policy Officer for War on Want, saw the crisis as a result of the failure an economic system that has left 2.2 billion people live in poverty including 1.4 billion who live in extreme poverty. She added, ‘What inspires me is how people on the ground are standing up to the system and the local partners of War on Want are setting up unions for the workers to campaign for a living wage.’
Moeen Yaseen, the founding member of Global Vision 2000, said the he root of the problem is not money, but it is truth vs falsehood. We’re living in an age of global deceit. There needs to be a moral and cultural revolution. He saw the world economy ‘as a global casino economy where the house always wins’. He added ‘We need to clean out this city as Jesus cleaned out the Temple.’
Richard Dowden, the Director of the Royal African Society, said that Africa is a rich continent full of poor people because of bad governance. The West has been complicit in this, although the prime responsibility lies in Africa.
‘A lot of corruption money from Africa goes into British tax havens and then into the city of London. The city is committed to eradicating drug money, terror money and corruption money. A nation’s health budget stolen as corruption money kills more than drug money and terror money put together, but the city has failed to address corruption money.’
International Secretary General of UPF, Dr Thomas Walsh, presented an overview of UPF’s activities. He emphasised the role of character education rooted in the experience of a loving family to build a stable economy within one family of humankind under God.
Rev. Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, the International Co-Chairman of the Universal Peace Federation, reading from a prepared text, emphasised that there are many policies we need to follow to stabilise our economy or care for our environment but these will be best built upon the bedrock of loving families inspired by God. He called for a Global Service Corps of youth that could heal divisions while working to fulfil the Millennium Development Goals.
Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, the Secretary General for the All India Imams and Mosques organisation, who represents 500,000 Imams in India, spoke on the failures of the G 20 agreements. Speaking as a representative of the largest democracy in the world, I do not see economic growth reaching to the grassroots level. Imam Ilyasi said he will launch ‘Faith in the 21st Century’ for interfaith action to solve common problems, later this year.
Frank Kantor, the Secretary for Church and Society for the United Reform Church, saw three significant roles for faith communities during this crisis: Firstly, a Prophetic role to present God’s view as we understand it to the world; Secondly, a Pastoral role to care for those who are suffering due to lack of money and jobs; and thirdly, to form partnerships with civil society.
Anil Bhanot, the General Secretary of the Hindu Council – UK, stated that there is nothing wrong with money itself but with business ethics. We need a 3-tier regulation system, covering both nation and international transactions, to prevent abuses.
Jonathan Fryer, the Chair of the Liberal International Group said that he wanted to see a ‘genuine new world order rather than a reshuffling of a pack of cards sharing wealth and decisions. Developing the G7 to G8 and G20 is a good thing in itself, but if we are just reshuffling the pack, 172 nations are still left on the sidelines. We need to work together with common moral principles and goals. Don’t just lobby your MP but blog, tweet and make sure your voices are heard.’
Inspired by our faith, armed with the experience of so many civil society groups and an unparalleled network of Ambassadors for Peace and Partner organisations the consensus seemed to be that this is a campaign worth working for and one crucial step towards one family of humanity under God.
Universal Peace Federation – UK www.uk.upf.org
Tagged: Development, Millennium Development Goals, Jonathan Fryer, equality, human rights, International Development, MDGs, climate change, G20, Put People First Demo, Civil Society, Fair Trade, Fairness | Edit | 1 Comment »
Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on March 30, 2009
UPF Recommendations for the G-20 Summit April 2nd – London
When the leaders of the G-20 convened in Washington DC last November, they committed themselves to “lay the foundation for reform to help ensure that a global crisis…does not happen again.”
If there is to be lasting change, the G-20 must acknowledge that the current financial crisis did not happen by accident, and it was not inevitable. The root cause of the problem has as much to do with moral, indeed spiritual failure, as governmental or financial mismanagement. For this reason, improved fiscal, economic and trade policies alone are not enough. The attitudes and behaviour of people, institutions and even entire nations must change.
The social sphere that comprises business, trade, and finance is embedded in a wider culture and ethos that, during the best of times in human history, provide the moral and spiritual framework within which we, as human beings, live day to day. Thus, the G-20 must engage in deeper reflection on the moral and spiritual infrastructure that forms the foundation of life in the world. We take an enormous risk when we either ignore or de-value that reality.
Therefore, as the G-20 gathers in London, we offer the following recommendations:
Ethical Reform: In addition to consideration of critical factors such as energy, security and climate change, food security, the rule of law, and the fight against terrorism, poverty and disease, an even greater need is for ethical reform. This call for ethical reform should be accompanied by greater transparency and fairness whether in financial markets, trade or ‘tax havens’ or in standards of good governance both in developing and developed nations.
The Importance of Social Institutions: Wealth, prosperity and human security are dependent not only on the proper functioning of governments, banks and markets, but also the proper functioning of families, communities, schools, and faith-based institutions, where character is shaped and our core values are learned.
Sustainable Growth: We call on the G-20 to promote sustainable growth for developed and developing nations.
Marriage and Family: Strong, stable, loving families are profoundly relevant to the quality of economic life. The G-20 should give consideration to the relevance of family life to wider economic realities.
Character Education: Character education, not only in the family or faith-based institution, but also in our schools, will help assure a thriving moral culture that is necessary for a robust and stable economy. Hard work, thrift, honesty, responsibility, empathy are moral virtues that are essential to a good business and a good economy.
Unselfishness: At the heart of many of the world’s greatest religious and moral worldviews is an emphasis on the universal value of unselfishness, and the control of self-centeredness. While traditionally, free markets are guided by a profit incentive, that human inclination must be balanced by higher principles such as altruism and service to others. We call upon the G-20 nations to dedicate 0.7% of Gross National Income at least by 2013 (agreed upon by developed nations in 1970 by UN General Assembly Resolution and reaffirmed on several occasions since) to support overseas development assistance and the fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals. We would encourage developed nations to forgive debts of the poorest nations of the world especially those accumulated by despotic regimes and that are now shackling succeeding democracies. This altruism demonstrates ‘living for the sake of others’ within the human family.
We are All Members of One Human Family: Humanity is one universal family. Despite the diversity of race, nationality, ethnicity and religion, we are all human and we all derive from a common source or origin, known by many as God, Allah, Jehovah, Brahman, the ultimate reality. We call for increased emphasis upon interfaith and intercultural dialogue between and beyond the nations of the G20 to promote understanding of our common root. Let us never forget that we are one family under God.
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