Year XXXII, 1990, Number 3 - Page 236
AFRICA AND EUROPE: FROM CO-OPERATION TO INTERNATIONAL DEMOCRACY*
1. With the end of the colonial period, during the Cold War between the two superpowers, who have repeatedly refused to grant the Third World’s demands for a new international economic order, Europe and Africa started the first experiment in North-South co-operation.
After the Second World War, European colonial rule in Africa came to an end, and the process of European unification made it possible to start the first experiment in multi-lateral co-operation for development between two continents. The Lomé Convention between the European Community and ACP countries was the result of this new historical situation. But in order to understand the significance of the Lomé Convention we must bear in mind that the international context in which Euro-African co-operation developed was that of the Cold War. The world was at that time governed by the bi-polar balance between the two superpowers, and the Europe of the Common Market was timidly seeking to play an autonomous role on the international scene. The Lomé Convention was the first positive response to attempts by the Third World, which had failed at world level, to create a new international economic order within the framework of the UN. In as far as it granted some of the poor countries’ demands (stabilization of prices for raw materials, non-reciprocity of tariffs, transfer of technology, etc.), the Lomé Convention also represented the first attempt in North-South relations to go beyond the framework of the Cold War and the bi-polar system of world government.
2. The limitations of the Lomé Convention consist both in the insufficiency of the Community’s aid, and in its inability to promote democratic political development in Africa and between the two continents.
The Lomé Convention had the merit of slowing down the deterioration of the African economy relative to the world economy. But this did not guarantee the minimum conditions for Africa’s development. Having now reached the Fourth Convention, we may attempt to evaluate the past fifteen years. For the last decade the pro-capita income of black Africa has been steadily declining. The Community increased its financial aid for Lomé IV (12 hundred thousand ECU), but it remains well below Africa’s needs (the foreign debt of ACP countries is over ten times higher than Community aid). The Lomé Convention – unless radical reform is undertaken, which at the moment is not on the agenda, because the Fourth Convention has a period of ten years – represents, therefore, the institutional framework within which commercial relations between the two continents have become stabilized: it does not represent however a framework in which Africa’s development may be promoted and which holds out concrete hope of progress to its inhabitants.
Over and above these economic and financial limitations, the Lomé Convention also demonstrates clear political limitations: it has in no way contributed towards the promotion of democracy and political unity on the African continent. Aid has been granted indiscriminately to all governments, even those which trample on human rights and deny any form of political pluralism. In order to realize any genuine developmental objectives, aid should have been entrusted to a pan-African body, charged with planning, in accordance with the OAU and the UN, the development of Africa as a whole.
3. The proposal of a European Marshall Plan for Africa was made by European democratic forces in order to overcome the limitations of the Lomé Convention.
In order to overcome the obvious limitations of the Lomé Convention, towards the end of the seventies there began to be talk of launching a grand European Marshall Plan for the development of Africa. The proposal was based on the observation that, at least in the initial phase, there would have been a complementary relationship between the European economy (poor in raw materials but rich in technology) and the African economy (rich in raw materials but poor in technology). This proposal was backed by federalists because it would have helped promote a European policy favourable to real political and economic unity in Africa. It would indeed have been impossible to plan and carry out an overall development programme for Africa without reinforcing existing pan-African institutions, such as the OAU, or creating new ones. Furthermore, the position of the European federalists fitted in well with the aspirations of Africa’s post-colonial founding fathers: for Nkrumah, Senghor and Nyerere, Africa’s independence and development could only be achieved within the context of a United States of Africa.
This political project did not come to fruition for two reasons. In the first place, without a real government responsible to the European Parliament, without a currency of its own and an adequate Community budget, Europe is not in a position to promote and administer a grand aid programme for Africa. For these reasons also, the political forces in Europe favourable to a more effective Third World aid policy have not yet succeeded in working out a common European strategy. In the second place, Africans have given only lukewarm support to this plan because of the unequal respective strength of Europe and Africa in the international context. The suspicion of “neo-colonialism” is inevitable. In this connection however it must be noted that Africa would be able to manage a cooperative agreement between unequal parties (as, by definition, is any cooperation between industrialized and underdeveloped countries at first) if it were to launch courageous project for the economic and political unification of the continent. China and India, two countries more or less equal in size to Africa, show that even poor countries can be politically independent.
The truth is that African unity is much more difficult to achieve than European, and so, when one thinks of Euro-African co-operation, one cannot forget the fundamental imbalance between the two continents on the international scene.
4. The Cold War is over. A new era has begun in which democracy represents the primary factor of change in both domestic and international politics.
The old international order of the post-war period is falling apart. The Cold War is over. With the policy of perestroika in the Soviet Union, the beginning of the process of disarmament between the two superpowers and the events of 1989 in Eastern Europe, the whole world has entered a completely new politico-historical cycle: the advance of democracy seems to be irresistible. The democratization of Communism has universal significance, just as had the French Revolution for the affirmation of the rights of man and the Bolshevik Revolution for the affirmation of socialism. All political régimes which today still hold out against democracy in the name of a supposed leadership role of an élite are weakened: time works against them.
But today, in an increasingly interdependent and unified world, it is no longer enough to win democracy at home. International democracy has actually become the precondition for national democracy itself, because the major problems of our age cannot be solved other than at continental, or, increasingly, at world level.
In Western Europe we have the possibility of promoting in the short term the first experiment in international democracy. Indeed, the fall of the Berlin Wall gave a considerable boost towards making European unity complete. If the European Parliament, governments and political forces accomplish their duty, within a few years the European federation could be a new entity in international politics. And the European federation is justly considered an essential point of reference for all peoples wishing to join in making a new world, because Europe represents the only union of countries which has not and cannot have – given its function as a link between several continents – an offensive and imperialistic military capacity. Thus we can see the possibility of building a common European home, from Vladivostok to San Francisco, in which every country can co-operate effectively towards disarmament and economic development in the whole Northern hemisphere.
But in this scenario, what is the future for the Third World? And, in particular, what will be the future of Africa, the most disadvantaged continent in the Third World?
5. The tragic dilemma of Africa: no democracy without economic development and no economic development without democracy. The struggle for democracy only represents one aspect of the struggle for political unity in the continent.
After their victorious struggle against colonialism, Africans soon discovered that the social and political conditions for democracy did not exist in Africa; yet democracy was the only choice that could ensure the freedom and independence of the African peoples. The extreme poverty of the population and the inadequacy of the state and bureaucratic frameworks inherited from colonial days hindered almost any attempt to construct democratic régimes. Furthermore, the survival of national micro-states – artificially created by European powers – represented the ideal context for the birth of dictatorial régimes, one-party states, always struggling against each other and ready to accept almost any form of “aid” (in particular armaments) from world powers, if it could help them keep or aggrandize their micro-power.
The historical phase of the one-party system was imposed on Africa as a hard necessity, but the situation is changing. One-party micro-national régimes are now contradictory to the requirements of African economic development. For Africa, the possibility of promoting forced industrialization, a policy realized with success for the first time in the USSR, is simply not open. The Soviet Union used the inherited state machinery of a great continental empire in which it still made sense to experiment with building socialism “in one country”. But for a national micro-state in Africa to propose a similar objective would be laughable. The one-party system is only compatible with an economy based on exploiting natural resources, in which the dominant role is left to large multi-national companies. In order to develop, Africa has to aim for a participative economy (the market does not necessarily mean capitalism) and for the formation of a local industrial base, as was clearly seen in the Lagos Plan of Action, proposed by the OAU. This development programme, drawn up in 1980, but still valid in its essential components today, shows that when Africans think seriously about their future they go beyond both the micro-national context, and the one-party régime, because it is impossible to develop an economy favourable to free individual initiative without political pluralism and respect for human rights. The development of the market and industry is incompatible with the survival of autocratic régimes.
Democracy, development and African unity: each of these is a precondition for, and yet depends on, the achievement of the others. The task of the African people is thus much more difficult than that of other Third World countries, because they cannot get out of their situation of underdevelopment without overcoming the artificial framework of micro-nationalism inherited from European powers. A development plan for the African continent thus cannot be promoted and realized except by a democratic continental government, because the ethnic, cultural and political pluralism of Africa is an indispensable requirement. Democracy in Africa means “African democracy”.
6. In the new phase of détente, a plan of solidarity for the development of the Third World is necessary and possible, but on condition that there is a new awareness among all the forces favourable to international democracy. There is no real solidarity if North-South relations continue to be conceived of in the context of foreign policy, in which it is inevitable that laws of power politics prevail.
The construction of a common European home will open a phase of co-operation and disarmament in the whole of the Northern hemisphere, on condition that Western European countries are able to unite in a real European federation, to help the peoples of the East to consolidate their new democratic régimes, to give a European solution to the problem of German unification, and to promote the transformation of the military blocs of NATO and the Warsaw Pact into purely political alliances.
In this context, Europe could perform an important role with regard to the Third World, and in particular, towards Africa, with which it has taken on important commitments in the Lomé Convention. It is also in the interests of the North to transform the present antagonistic relations with the South (over debt, prices of raw materials, the role of multi-nationals, etc.) into a relationship of co-operation. Furthermore, the grave problems of international emigration and ecological restructuring of the economy require global solutions. The further we go down the road to disarmament, the harder it will be to deny the Southern hemisphere that solidarity that is indispensable for its development.
But it has to be recognized that the relationship between disarmament and development will not be realized automatically. The Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Europe was based on a state of temporary necessity (the confrontation with Stalin in a Europe that was bleeding and wounded). Present-day policy on Community aid to Eastern Europe is based on a state of temporary necessity (to avoid Balkanization and social disorder in Eastern Europe). In both cases the aid programme is one covering a period of approximately half a decade. A policy of solidarity of the North towards the South is based, in contrast, on the necessity of planning the long-term development of the world economy. A complementary relationship has to be created between industrialized countries and the needs of the Third World. Obviously it is necessary for the North to accept a policy of austerity (which could be attenuated by any resources made available by disarmament) in order to transfer to the South the capital indispensable for basic investment. But it is also necessary to undertake a policy of reconverting production in the North, because if all inhabitants of the planet adopt the same productive model as that of the industrialized countries, development would very soon become “unsustainable”. For these reasons, a Marshall Plan is not enough. That is still part of the world of foreign policy. We have to begin to recognize that the inhabitants of the South have the same right to solidarity as the poor who live in the North. To be more precise, we have to convince all inhabitants of the planet that we are part of a single community with a common destiny and that, in the future, we must all become fellow-citizens of the same common home.
7. International solidarity is impossible without the creation of new institutions for North-South co-operation. All the peoples of the earth must participate in working out a development programme for the world economy. Democratic reform of the UN has now become indispensable.
It is in the context of the UN that the Third World, organized into “the Group of 77” was able to start the struggle for a new international economic order. But in the era of the Cold War and of the bi-polar balance of power, this struggle did not succeed in achieving significant results because the arms race was considered, not only by the superpowers, much more important than a serious effort towards development.
The situation is radically changing today. If all the countries of the North will agree to work together to build a common European home, a situation can be foreseen in which peoples and governments will agree to put aside the hatred and rancour of the past (as is happening now in the European Community, where both the French and Germans consider themselves European citizens) to bring about serious reform of the UN. The common European home is nothing more than a transitory political programme. It is true that Europe first has to solve “European” problems, connected to the end of the Second World War, (such as German unification, overcoming the military blocs, and so on), but the context in which peaceful co-operation for development really has to be organized is the world. We have to reform the IMF and GATT; create a worldwide agency for ecology; and manage the natural resources that the UN has declared to be “the common heritage of humanity”. Only in the framework of the UN and with the active participation of all peoples can there be effective reform of the international political order. A world government has to be set up.
It is necessary however to observe that it is not sufficient to give new financial resources to the UN or to create new international agencies. If we really want to bring the UN out of its state of near-impotence, which has reduced it to the empty symbol of a non-existent world unity, we have to change radically the decision-making system which in its present state is totally undemocratic. In the name of a fictitious respect for equality between sovereign states, the principle “one state, one vote” is applied, with the result that since the USA, China, the USSR etc. quite rightly do not wish to count for the same as the Seychelles, Togo, Haiti etc. the General Assembly of the UN votes for resolutions which in the vast majority of cases are not applied, while real decisions are taken outside the UN (at meetings of the Big Seven, the summits of the superpowers, and so on).
8. The democratic reform of the UN has to mean the application of the principle “one man, one vote”. A democratic World Parliament would represent an essential point of reference for spreading and strengthening democracy throughout the world.
The first step towards international democracy should be the creation of a World Parliament (a second chamber of the UN) directly elected in all countries which wanted to participate in this great process of renewal in international politics. The first task of this Parliamentary Assembly should be to work out radical reform of the UN, in order to transform it into a real democratic and effective government, able, that is, to solve the most serious problems facing mankind.
This reform, at least in its initial phase, would not yet mean the achievement of international democracy, because only in the long term will it be possible to overcome the obstacles that impede every individual and all peoples from full participation in world government. We should not hide from ourselves the fact that there will be some forces (such as racism, Islamic fundamentalism, etc.) and some countries (all dictatorships and false popular governments) which will oppose or will not want to participate in this process of building a democratic, multiracial and cosmopolitan society. But it will be the universal nature of the project that will be its greatest strength for penetrating into all corners of the world and into all social strata. Modern Europe has already brought down the borders between ancient nation-states and between the decrepit empires of the East and West. The democratic reform of the UN would put in motion an irresistible process overcoming all borders – until the utter defeat of all forms of tyranny and exploitation was achieved.
9. The countries of the Third World have a specific interest in leading the struggle for the realization of international democracy, because democracy is the most effective method of affirming the rights of the poorest and most numerous part of mankind. Only the participation of all peoples in the struggle for democratization of the UN can bring to life an awareness of a common world citizenship.
To be effective, this reform must allow for an increase in the UN’s powers, for example conferring resources of its own (as happened in the case of the European Community) which could come from a world tax (for example an “ecological” tax on polluting fuels). A World Parliament would also have to regulate the painful problem of North-South emigration, control the process of disarmament between the superpowers, limit or abolish all trade in arms, draw up a code of “good conduct” for multinationals, etc. These types of decision will not be possible without debates, and also strong disagreements, between the populations concerned. The democratic method is therefore necessary. Furthermore, it is essential to allow the peoples of the Third World to give priority to the interests of the majority. International democracy thus paves the way for an effective redistribution of economic resources on a worldwide scale.
Finally, democratic reform of the UN can foster a growing consciousness that the future of mankind is the responsibility of all, and that all can contribute to the government of the world. Democratic political parties will be able to, indeed will have to, be the promoters of the new cosmopolitan politics. It is thus that the citizen of the world will be born.
10. All the forces favourable to international democracy in Europe, in Africa and in the world must organize themselves to compel governments to promote democratic reform of the UN.
The European experience has shown that every step forward towards European unity (starting from Jean Monnet’s ECSC) was the result of federalists’ continual campaigning, and of the ever more favourable attitude of all democratic political forces. When it is a question of solving common problems, governments are quite capable of finding increasingly advanced forms of co-operation – after all, it is their institutional duty. But they are never disposed to give up voluntarily the least of their sovereign powers without being forced to, both by popular forces and by international challenges. For this reason, all those who are in favour of international democracy from now on must unite to create a worldwide movement, in order to sustain in all countries the project for democratic reform of the UN. The political unity of the world begins with the unity of those who want it. An effective campaign has to be launched all over the world to promote international democracy.
It is a difficult task. But there is no other possibility to resolve the vital problems of the development of the Third World, disarmament, and the ecological safeguarding of the planet. Whoever believes international democracy is utopian should have the courage to confess openly that he prefers a world governed by the balance of great powers, by the force of arms, by imperialism, by religious fanaticism and by racism. But whoever wants to change the world must strive for the force of democracy.
TOWARDS A JOINT ACTION
FOR INTERNATIONAL DEMOCRACY
FOR INTERNATIONAL DEMOCRACY
Declaration by African and European Federalists
Following the events of 1989, which saw the start of the democratization of Eastern Europe, the consolidation of detente between the superpowers, and fresh progress towards the political unification of Europe, we seem to have embarked on a totally new phase of international politics. The Cold War is over. Old borders are crumbling. The domain of democracy and international co-operation is expanding.
Only the re-awakening of nationalism and atavistic ethnic rivalries might hinder the construction of a new Europe, open to co-operation with the United States and the Soviet Union in a “common home”, where effective progress might be made towards disarmament and the development of the entire Northern hemisphere.
Such a prospect should not however exclude the Third World. It is inevitable that Europe should concern itself first of all with “European problems”: the construction of the European federation, the completion of German unification and the development of collaboration between Western and Eastern Europe. But we cannot shelve issues of such pressing importance as international emigration and ecology, which can only be solved by recommencing North-South dialogue and speeding up the process of disarmament. Europe’s strength resides in its capacity to co-operate peacefully with all neighbouring peoples, in particular with those of the Mediterranean area and Africa, with whom the Community has made special agreements.
Euro-African co-operation in its present form has proved ineffectual, results being well below expectations. Africa is unable to develop itself, and risks becoming increasingly secluded. This situation is caused, for the most part, by those African political systems where there is no democratic freedom.
For these reasons, European and African federalists ask:
– that the European Community rethink the basis of its co-operation with Africa, with the aim of promoting a new political and institutional framework in which co-operative agreements, in particular that of the Lomé Convention, may become more effective. Aid should meanwhile be enough to provide the realization of public infrastructure investments which would enable the African economy to develop autonomously. The Lomé Convention should be reformed by common agreement between the European Community and an African organization which would accept the responsibility of establishing, with the minimum delay, an African federation based on democratic freedom and respect for the rights of man;
– that the OAU, in collaboration with all forces representative of African society, should draw up a plan for its democratic reform, for Africa cannot hope to develop its economy without the active participation of all components – ethnic, political, social and cultural – of African people, and without the prospect of economic and political unification of the continent;
– that the UN – set up as a permanent diplomatic assembly in the aftermath of war to tackle specific world problems, and now unable to cope with contemporary dramatic problems – consider reforming itself. It should examine ways of reinforcing its constitution by the active participation of all peoples to the government of international policy. In the new era of world politics, in which even Communism is trying laboriously to democratize itself, the only way to promote the UN’s democratic legitimacy is by the direct election of a World Parliament, with the progressive participation of all peoples that reject the use of violence as an instrument of international policy. The world already has a common destiny: only through international democracy and a democratic World government will it be possible to achieve universal disarmament, peace, international justice and the ecological safeguarding of the planet.
African and European federalists:
– recall how Europe in the past, divided into sovereign nation-states in perpetual struggle against each other, bore particular responsibility for the spread of colonialism and nationalism throughout the whole world. They therefore call on all European democratic forces that, in this decisive moment when the new order in Europe hangs in the balance, they should not neglect any initiative favourable to building a United States of Europe. In particular, African and European federalists ask that the European Parliament, in agreement with the national parliaments convened in the Assizes, should without further delay update the Spinelli Plan of 1984 in order to arrive at the national ratifications scheduled for 1992, with a project of federation, in which the European Parliament would have the power to control the executive;
– undertake to promote effective action to support international democracy within their respective organizations – the World Association for World Federation, the African Federalist Movement, the Movimento Federalista Europeo, the European Union of Federalists – and with all associations and political forces potentially favourable to the political union of mankind. The objective is that of promoting an international movement of public opinion which progressively knocks down all obstacles that maintain economic, political and cultural barriers between the peoples of the planet.
*A document drawn up for an International Conference held in Milan on March 18th 1990, organized by the Movimento Federalista Europeo and by the World Association for World Federation (WAWF), in collaboration with the University of Milan and the EEC Commission. During the Conference, a group of African and European federalists signed an International Declaration, which we publish below. The African federalists, in addition, signed a Solemn Undertaking in which they undertook to call a Founding Congress of the African Federalist Movement (AFM) within two years, as the African section of the WAWF.