“What we need is system change!”


Civil society groups around the world have issued a declaration at the G20 Counter-Summit calling on ordinary people everywhere to reclaim our commons from the control of big business.

A press conference before the start of the G20 counter-summit - Photograph: pglobal.org
A press conference before the start of the G20 counter-summit – Photograph: pglobal.org

St Petersburg, 4 September 2013

Social movements and civil society organizations from different parts of the world have met on 3-4 September 2013 in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on the eve of the G20 Summit and in a context of the threat by the United States of America (USA) to attack Syria. With the participation of more than 30 international delegates of world social movements, our G20 Counter-Summit was hosted by the Post-Globalisation Initiative.

We voice the vision of peasants and fisherfolks, women and men workers, indigenous communities, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, and people everywhere who say: what we need is system change!

The G20 has not been up to this task, nor even up to the task of durably reforming world capitalism. The G20 is not legitimate, democratic or transparent.

Five years after the financial meltdown, the G20 continues promoting failed neoliberal policies. The cooptation of the so-called emerging economies – such as the BRICS – is obviously not a move away from neoliberal globalisation. On the contrary, these countries have also been giving funds to the IMF – $75bn in 2012 – to continue forcing austerity measures in countries facing deep recession and social crisis.

Therefore, we stand in solidarity to the struggles of the Greek people – and so many others on the European periphery, not to mention the other victims of the IMF – who are suffering the burdens of the incompetent troika recipes. Meanwhile, the banks which created the crisis are profiting from the privatisation of public Greek infrastructure.

Nothing much different could be expected from the G20, because it is the expression of the corporate capture of our governments, a process that has been deepened in the last forty years, and especially since the G20 attempted its first band-aids in 2008.

During this period a vast architecture of impunity was built to serve the interests of transnational capital. The global economic architecture includes Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and International Investment Agreements such as Bilateral Investment Treaties, the current international and regional financial regimes, as well as institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), and tribunals such as the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

These institutions are responsible for the current crisis and should be deconstructed and rebuilt for the safety of us all. Instead, governments continue to insist on FTAs, such as expressed in the Trans Pacific Partnership, the Trans-Atlantic Agreement and the WTO Bali Package in the run-up to the Ministerial Summit in December 2013.

This architecture of impunity houses the systematic violations of rights of people and nature by Transnational Corporations, with the complicity of captive states. In the face of these attacks on our rights, affected communities, workers, migrants, women, peasants, indigenous communities and many social movements all over the world are resisting and fighting back. We are mobilising and building alternatives to the capitalist system. Recent social mobilisations in Turkey, Brazil, Egypt, Colombia, southern Europe, Mexico, India and many other places are an expression of the fact that people do not accept the privatisation of the public and of the commons.

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Government responses to these protests are predictable: widespread repression and criminalisation of social movements everywhere. We stand in solidarity with political prisoners and civil society organisations in Russia, as well as the many activists facing repression worldwide.

We want a world where socialisation of the vast productive capacity in our world economy is achieved, but through democracy. In contrast, the market as currently constituted privatises wealth and socialises poverty, repression and ecological destruction. We reaffirm the primacy of human rights and democracy over the rule of the market and finance.

At this moment of extreme danger in the Middle East, we stand united in demanding that outside powers stop adding to the violence in Syria, and we specifically demand that the United States government refrain from its regular tendency to bomb instead of seeking peace. There is no way the threats to escalate violence could possibly improve the situation in Syria. It will only add to the suffering of the Syrian people.

Moreover, bombing Syria will cause further insecurity and violence across the region. We share the world’s opposition to this illegal criminal attack. It is opposition expressed by people and governments all around the world, including the Arab League, UNASUR, several Asian countries, the British Parliament (even), and others. It is a damning indictment of the G20 that these world leaders cannot come together and agree to stop fuelling the conflict in Syria.

We equally reject the new world of global surveillance such as Prism, carried out by the United States National Security Agency and many other powers within the G20. This is a direct violation of the basic human right to privacy and an attempt to create a culture of fear in order to undermine democracy and any expression of opposition to the corporate powers that rule the world today.

The G20 elites will slap each others’ backs as they provide the most trivial reforms to the world financial and monetary system. But this is not a financial crisis; it is a crisis of civilisation. The implosion of September 2008 was the expression of an ongoing process. The adverse power balance, in which so many Treasuries and central banks are under the influence of the private banks, meant that governments transferred massive amounts of resources to the speculative oligarchy.

In doing so, financial and macroeconomic indicators artificially improved – but the destruction of fundamental mechanisms of price formation and the expansion of structural insolvency triggered a very acute hegemonic dispute. Even continental Europe has become a new terrain of looting. Unemployment, the dismantling of the welfare state, and widespread privatisation are part of the offensive of the neoliberal agenda, in the context of the overwhelming evidence of its doctrinal bankruptcy.

Expressions of these crises include a new wave of unrepayable debt imposed upon consumers and students; more extreme cases of violence again women; volatility of food prices and the endangered food sovereignty of peoples; and the recent strong outflow of capital from poorer to richer economies, leading to enormous currency pressure on Indonesia, Brazil, India and other countries. Vulture funds continue to loot countries in the process of debt write-downs, with their threat to Argentina now requiring our solidarity.

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The G20 – a self-selected clique of rich and emerging countries’ regimes that designated themselves as the new steering group for the global economy – wanted us to believe there is no alternative to capitalism. They want us to believe that our broken planet can be saved by more of the same measures. Yet these measures are condemning the world to a vicious and endless cycle of crisis and environmental collapse.

We need a new path for a different and better future. Like nature, our alternatives are diverse and simultaneously happening in various levels: global, national and local. They are directed at various aspects of life to ensure that the majority can live well.

Our governments must instead promote the already existing alternatives that could lead to alternative systems and relations. These alternatives were inspired by the ideals of reclaiming our commons from the control of big business. Activists are building a genuinely green and genuinely sustainable path to development and autonomous management, and especially to the constructive use of the commons. We propose Climate Justice and Food Sovereignty, which require the complete overhaul of systems, of hedonistic lifestyles and of unsustainable ways of production and consumption.

We call people everywhere to join global campaigns, which are building these alternatives, among others:

  • Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity
  • Climate Justice Now!
  • Mobilisations of social movements for the Bali Week of Action to end the WTO in Indonesia
  • Network for Justice on Global Investment
  • G20-OWINFS (Our World is Not for Sale) Network


Initial signatories:

International or Regional Networks
Amigos de la Tierra América Latina y el Caribe ATALC (Latin America and Caribbean)
Carbon Trade Watch (International)
Comité de América Latina y el Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de las Mujeres – Cladem, Red Regional (Latin America and Caribbean)
Comité pour l’annulation de la dette du Tiers Monde -CADTM (Belgium/International)
Conselho Latinoamericano de Organizações em AIDS (LACCASO)
Convergencia de Movimientos de los Pueblos de las Américas -COMPA (International)
Hemispheric Social Alliance – Alianza Social Continental (Americas)
Interamerican Platform on Human Rights, Democracy and Development –PIDHDD (Americas)
Latin American Network on Debt, Developments and Rights –LATINDADD (Latin America)
Movimiento Mesoamericano contra el Modelo Extractivo Minero -M4 (Meso-America)
REd de Educación Popular Entre Mujeres Latinoamerica y Caribe REPEM-LAC (América latina y Caribe)
Via Campesina Europe (Americas)
World March of Women – Marcha Mundial de las Mujeres – Marche mondiale des femmes (International)
National Organizations, movements or networks
Abogadas y Abogados para la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos (Mexico)
Aktive Arbeitslose Österreich -Active Unemployed Austria (Austria)
Alianza Mexicana por la Autodeterminación de los Pueblos -AMAP (Mexico)
Aliran Kesedaran Negara – Aliran (Malaysia)
Alternative Information and Development Centre -AIDC (South Africa)
Alliance of Progressive Labor- APL (Philippines)
Alliance Civile contre la violence et pour les libertés (Tunisie)
Amigos de la Tierra Argentina (Argentina)
Amigos da Terra Brasil (Brazil)
Aniban ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (Union of Agricultural Workers) – AMA- (Philippines)
Anti Debt Coalition (Indonesia)
Asamblea Feminismo Comunitario (Bolivia)
Asociacion nacional de Industriales de transformación, a. c. -ANIT (Mexico)
Association Tunisienne des femmes démocrates -ATFD (Tunisie)
ATTAC Japan (Japan)
Bharatiya Krishak Samaj (India)
Brazilian NGO Association – Abong (Brazil)
Brazilian Network for the Integration of Peoples -REBRIP (Brazil)
CEICOM (El Salvador)
Center for Encounter and Active Non-Violence (Austria)
Center for Civil Society, Durban (South Africa)
Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos “Segundo Montes Mozo S.J.” -CSMM (Ecuador)
Centro de Investigación laboral y sindical -CILAS (Mexico)
Centro de investigaciones sociales, sindicales y laborales, A.C. Baja California Sur (Mexico)
Centro de Políticas Públicas y Derechos Humanos – EQUIDAD (Peru)
China Labor Net (China)
COECOCeiba Amigos de la Tierra Costa Rica (Costa Rica)
COMCAUSA A.C. Comunidades Campesinas y Urbanas Solidarias con Alternativas (Mexico)
Comisión Ecuménica de Derechos Humanos de Ecuador (Ecuador)
Comisión Nacional de Enlace -CNE (Costa Rica)
Cooperation for Peace and Development -CPD (Afghanistan)
Coordination nationale de la marche mondiale des femmes Tunisie (Tunisie)
Corporate Europe Observatory -CEO (Europe)
Council of Canadians (Canada)
Ditsö (Costa Rica)
Eastern and Southern Africa small scale Farmers Forum -ESAFF (Zambia)
Ecologistas en Acción (Spain)
Ecuador Decide (Ecuador)
Finnish anti-fascist committee (Finland)
Finland without Nazism (Finland)
Focus on the Global South (Thailand, Philippines, India)
Foro México Global (Mexico)
Forum for a New Public and Social Finance / Forum per una nuova finanza pubblica e sociale” (Italy)
G 50 -G sin cuenta- (El Salvador)
Gestos (Brazil)
Global Exchange (USA)
Indonesia Civil Society Forum on Climate Justice -CSF-CJI (Indonesia)
Indonesia for Global Justice (Indonesia)
Indonesian Human Rights Committee for Social Justice -IHCS (Indonesia)
Institut Perempuan (Women’s Institute) (Indonesia)
Institute for Global Justice -IKG (Indonesia)
Institute for Globalization and Social Movements -IGSO (Russia)
Institute for Policy Studies – Global Economy Project (USA)
Instituto EQUIT – Genero, Economia y Ciudadania global (Brasil)
Justiça Ambiental/ Friends of the Earth (Mozambique)
Koalisi Anti Utang -KAU (Indonesia)
KontraS -The Commission of The Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Indonesia)
KRuHA -People’s coalition for the right to water (Indonesia)
La’o Hamutuk -Walking Together (East Timor)
National Alliance of People’s Movements (India)
Otros Mundos AC/Amigos de la Tierra México (Mexico)
Pamoja Ghana Reflect Practitioners’ Network (Ghana)
Pamoja Mali (Mali)
Pearl River Workers Service Center (China)
Philippine Movement for Climate Justice PMCJ (Philippines)
PLARSUR (Argentina)
Polaris Institute (Canada)
REDES-Amigos de la Tierra -FoE (Uruguay)
Red Mexicana de Acción frente al Libre Comercio -RMALC (Mexico)
Red nacional Género y Economía –REDGE (Mexico)
Réseau Mauritanien pour l’Action Sociale (Mauritanie)
Resistance and Alternatives to Globalization -RAG (Indonesia)
SANLAKAS (Philippines)
Sociedad Cooperativa La Sabrosa Tradición (México)
Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute –SEATINI (Uganda)
Swarna Hansa Foundation (Sri Lanka/Sinhale)
Transnational Institute -TNI (Netherlands)
Union of Filipino Migrants in Greece -KASAPI HELLAS (Greece)
Unión Popular Valle Gómez (Mexico)
Wamdha pour la Culture et la communication (Tunisie)
Zukunftskonvent (Germany)

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najib manaukau
5 Oct 2013 8.17am

What is really urgently needed to change is the government before anything else ! Without the change Malaysia will become a laughing stock in this part of the world and will surely go bankrupt. Especially while after so many decades of their administration the country is still in the third world, a low income country with the biggest problem of corruption of the world. While the Umno scaramouches have become millionaires and most of them are even billionaires when the poor Malays are still no better off when NEP (Never Enough Policy) was implemented 44 years ago. The people coming up with this policy never thought it would be hijacked by the egregious Mahathir … in the name of the Malays. … his sublub son to become a billionaire and in the process all his proxies and cronies to become multi millionaires. … Especially when the millions poor Malays, which NEP (Never Enough Policy) how appropriately named, are intended for. Between these very wealthy men they would have got more than the 30% that NEP had planned for and they wanted to continue …, Najib has… Read more »