Social Watch launched Basic Capabilities Index in Rostock, Germany

(June 7) The Basic Capabilities Index (BCI) produced annually by Social Watch was launched on June 6th to coincide with the Summit of the world’s Group of 8 most powerful countries, held on June 6-8 at the tourist resort of Heiligendamm, Germany.

See all the information about BCI

In a press conference with journalists from Southern countries, Jens Martens (director of Global Policy Forum – Germany) and Cecilia Alemany (Social Watch Global Networker) presented the results of the BCI, a development index produced by Social Watch's Social Sciences Team, and discussed globalization and the roles of rich and poor countries.

Martens questioned the legitimacy of the G8, which mass media seem to legitimate as the only group of countries that can address civil society demands.

However, the members of this ‘exclusive club’ (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom and United States) are just a part of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), an agency created more than 60 years ago which the UN General Assembly seeks to strengthen, something also sought by civil organizations that aspire to more equity within the international political system.

“Demanding that the G-8 be replaced by a new body where the South is assured equal representation and participation by civil society organisations is guaranteed is superfluous. Such a body need not be invented: it is already there in the form of the ECOSOC”, stressed Martens.

Redefining the structures of decision-making among international financial institutions is essential, stressed Alemany. At present, governance structure is asymmetrical, being favourable to developed countries.

“The day-to-day operation of the IMF and World Bank is governed by a Board made up by 24 executive directors. Only seven represent their country. The remaining 17 represent the interests of 160 countries. The five developed countries that hold individual places represent about one third of the total vote", said Alemany.

The main issues at the G8 summit are climate change and aid for Africa. The Summit’s draft statement recognizes that not enough has been done to reduce Africa's problems and that without a significant drive the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) agreed by world leaders in 2000 will not be achieved.

According to BCI results, at its current rate of progress Sub-Saharan Africa would only achieve access to a minimum set of social services by 2108, almost a century after 2015, the deadline set by the MDG's.

Civil society organizations that are critical of globalization have managed to call, through protest mobilizations, the attention of the media at Rostock and in previous international summits alternative to the G8. However, there is a lack of communication between participants in the summit and the counter-summit.

Non-governmental organizations, among them Social Watch, demand more transparency and accountability from the organizers of the G8 meeting.

Even though there are civil society participants in the press area of the official Summit, there is no access to the official delegations of the G8 members, and there is no communication among the debates of the G8 members and the anti-summit participants.