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UN report highlights need for Government to adopt social justice agenda during EU Presidency

6 October, 2003

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Aengus Ó Snodaigh described as "alarming" and "shameful" the latest figures from the UN that states that 1 billion people across the world are living in slums and that the figure is expected to more than double in the next 30 years. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

"Today's UN report on slums highlights in a very dramatic and shameful way the negative impact of globalisation. Rather than 'lifting all boats' economically as the captain's of industry and promoters of the so-called 'free market' would have us believe it is clear that globalisation is having a very corrosive effect on the worlds population. Over 30% of the worlds urban population or almost one billion people are currently living in slums and extreme poverty. This figure is expected to more than double in the next 30 years. That will represent more than half the world's urban population. That is an extraordinary and alarming figure.

"It is no coincidence that the massive growth in slum dwelling happened during the 1990s as the free marketeers gained complete control of and influence over the economic strategies and policies of all the major economies of the world.

"This report shows that there is no such thing as the free market. A price will always be paid somewhere. The developing world is increasingly being made pay a massive price for the unfettered consumerism and commercialism of the West.

"The Irish Government in taking over the EU Presidency shortly will have an opportunity to play a central role in addressing the imbalance that exists and which this report dramatically highlights between the so-called developed and developing countries. Last week in Dáil I called on the Government to adopt a global social justice agenda for its Programme for the EU Presidency in 2004.

"I urged the Government to use the Irish Presidency of the EU as an opportunity to put fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals at the top of the EU and international agenda as the most effective means of ensuring human and global security.

"As part of a global social justice agenda and in light of this UN report I would again urge the Government to commit the Irish EU Presidency to the following:

·To bring the EU partners on board to match Ireland's stated commitment to developing country debt cancellation.

·To prioritise Trade Justice by committing to support creation of a multilateral binding code of conduct for EU participation in trade negotiations, and by pressing for a conclusion on the 3 outstanding Doha Development Round areas acceptable to the developing world.

·To show leadership in the EU on Official Development Assistance (ODA) by returning to multi-annual ODA budgeting; publishing a plan for incremental growth in Irish ODA between 2004-2007 as recommended by Development Cooperation Ireland and Dóchas - starting with a guaranteed increase from 0.41% to 0.48% GNP for Budget 2004; ensuring policy coherence on poverty eradication as the guiding principle for EU external action; and proposing the establishment of permanent EU monitoring group to review members' implementation of Monterey and Barcelona Commitments (aid increases, aid harmonisation, untying of aid).

·To show global leadership by committing to introduce legislation establishing a Tobin Tax in this state (as France has already done), and by campaigning to establish the EU as a Tobin Tax Zone.

·To spearhead a campaign to mobilise the EU behind UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's appeal for support for radical UN reform in the aftermath of the tragedy at the UN Headquarters in Baghdad.

"If the Government emphasises these points in the Irish EU Presidential Programme, the broadest section of the Irish people will support it wholeheartedly and moreover regard it as a source of pride. If they fail to do so, however, the Irish EU Presidency will join the Irish tenure on the UN Security Council as another opportunity wasted." ENDS

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