south-north development monitor SUNS [Email Edition]

SUNS #4454, Monday ,14 June 1999


Development: UN asks G-8 to improve debt relief for poor (Chakravarthi Raghavan, Geneva)

Labour: Rampant violations of core labour standards, says ICFTU (Someshwar Singh, Geneva)

Trade: Congressional Committee clears Africa, Caribbean Bills (IPS, Washington)

Health: FAO wants strict monitoring of meat supplies (IPS, Rome)

Brazil: Increase in coffee exports lowers price (IPS, Rio de Janeiro)

Development: New arena for co-operation among world cities (IPS, Mexico City)

United Nations: Kosovo vote lets all sides claim victory (IPS, New York)

Yugoslavia: 100,000 Serbs might be fleeing Kosovo (IPS, Belgrade)

Some excerpts from selected articles:

Development: UN asks G-8 to improve debt relief for poor

Geneva, 11 June (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- The United Nations made public Friday a new report, "Finding Solutions to Debt Problems of Developing Countries," and asked the G-8 leaders to improve the substantially the terms on which relief is now granted to the heavily indebted poor countries, and eliminate once and for all their debt overhang problem.

The debt relief issue is high on the agenda of the Group of 8 heads of state/government meeting in Cologne 18-20 June. The G-7 finance ministers are now meeting in Cologne and are to report to their heads.

The UN report says that the foreign debt problem of developing countries has "dramatically worsened" since the beginning of the 1990s, because of the outlook for commodity prices and export volumes. Over the medium term the ability of developing countries to service their debts could become worse.

In releasing the report in Geneva, UNCTAD Secretary-General Rubens Ricupero underscored the need to improve the terms of the debt relief, as well as bring in more countries into the eligibility category.

While the criteria for including countries appear to be "objective", in fact they are not really so, but had a "degree of arbitrariness", Ricupero said. He cited what he called "a highly placed source close to the initiative", which he did not want to identify, that informed him that under the original criteria evolved, Cote d'Ivoire did not qualify, but France insisted on bringing it in, and hence the criteria was changed. There was a need to be more flexible and bring in more countries to be given relief, including some who, by virtue of their per capita incomes are excluded but who need relief, he said.

Labour: Rampant violations of core labour standards, says ICFTU

Geneva, June 10 (Someshwar Singh) -- Akin to what happened more than a century ago during the Industrial Revolution, under pressure from the transnational corporations, the world is witnessing a revival of the demands to contain 'draconian labour laws', Mr. Bill Jordan of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) said here Thursday.

Releasing the ICFTU's 1999 Trade Union Rights Survey, Jordan said that at the time of the industrial revolution, the British government was asked to undo the draconian labour laws as they were undermining the forces of competition.

"The story of one country (Britain) then is becoming the story of all countries today," Jordan said. "Transnational companies are already telling countries desperate for their investments - 'if you want our investments, liberalise your laws, introduce more flexibility, do away with draconian labour laws.' That is the price for investment."

According to Jordan, the core labour standards enshrined in the ILO Declaration - relating to freedom of association and collective bargaining - were being violated all around the world.

The report said that 123 trade unionists were murdered in 1998, about 1650 individuals were attacked or injured, 3650 were arrested and a massive 21,427 were sacked for trade union activities. A record 119 countries have been cited this year. And these figures represent only 'the tip of the iceberg,' says the ICFTU.

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