PI Briefing | No. 17 | Winning a New International Economic Order

Over the next few days, leading scholars, diplomats, and political leaders will meet in Havana to develop a Programme of Action to win a New International Economic Order.
In the Progressive International's 17th Briefing of 2024, we bring you news of the 50th Anniversary Congress on the New International Economic Order in Havana. If you would like to receive our Briefing in your inbox, you can sign up using the form at the bottom of this page.
In the Progressive International's 17th Briefing of 2024, we bring you news of the 50th Anniversary Congress on the New International Economic Order in Havana. If you would like to receive our Briefing in your inbox, you can sign up using the form at the bottom of this page.

“The struggle to eliminate the injustice of the existing international economic system and to establish the New International Economic Order is an integral part of the struggle of the people for political, economic, cultural and social liberation," declared the assembled Heads of State and the Government of the Non-Aligned Movement assembled in Havana almost 50 years ago.

That vision of a world transformed was first laid out in 1974 as the nations of the Third World, having won their independence from colonialism, came together to propose a vision for sovereign development and international cooperation in trade, finance, and technology — and won a UN Declaration for the Establishment of a New International Economic Order at the General Assembly.

Fifty years later, we are again in a moment of rapid geopolitical transformation — both ripe with the possibility for a more just order to emerge and fraught with the risk of its violent fragmentation. How will we confront the crises of climate change, viral pandemics, extreme poverty, and escalating war that threaten billions of lives and livelihoods across the planet?

One year ago, the Progressive International convened delegates from over 25 countries to Havana to inaugurate Cuba’s presidency of the Group of 77 — and participate in the inaugural Congress on the New International Economic Order. “Our nations continue to be in the rearguard of global development, while carrying on their shoulders the consequences of multiple crises and inequalities derived from the unjust current international order,” said President Díaz-Canel in his opening address to the G77.

Over the course of its deliberations, the Congress yielded a clear strategy to “assert Southern power”, set out in the Havana Declaration delivered at the closing ceremony on 28 January. “The Congress recognizes that economic liberation will not be granted, but must be seized... Our vision can only be realized through the formation of new and alternative institutions to share critical technology, tackle sovereign debt, drive development finance, and face future pandemics together,” read the Declaration.

One year later, however, the nature of these “new and alternative institutions” — as well as their path to implementation — remain undefined. Should we form a new cartel to coordinate the extraction of precious metals? Should we form a club of debtor nations to navigate the crisis of sovereign debt? Should we launch a joint medical regulatory agency to facilitate the flow of medicines across the South?

Over the next few days, the Progressive International is returning to Havana to answer these questions — to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the New International Economic Order, to sustain the dialogue initiated at the inaugural Congress, to sharpen the debate about the direction of South-South cooperation, and to strengthen the coalition to pursue it.

The 50th Anniversary Congress on the New International Economic Order brings together leading scholars, diplomats, and political leaders — from Brazil to Pakistan, South Africa to Spain — who share a commitment to the Right to Development and frustration with the present debate about how to win it.

Over the course of three days — in the stunning Southern Hemicycle of the National Capitol — this group will engage in a deep, honest, and rigorous debate to identify the primary challenges to sovereign development today, the key priorities to redress them, and the concrete proposals that can actually deliver on those priorities.

The formal goal of the Congress is to develop a new NIEO Program of Action that will be presented at its concluding press conference at the Palacio de Convenciones on 2 May — a document both inspired by the 1974 Programme of Action on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order, as well as informed by the expertise and experience that the delegates are bringing to the Congress.

Latest from the Movement

Ecuador says no foreign corporate courts

In a referendum held on Sunday, Ecuador voted to keep its constitutional ban on using international arbitration and investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms (ISDS) to settle disputes between foreign corporations and the state.

This was the second time that the Ecuadorian people have voted ‘No’ to ISDS and its international arbitration courts through a direct vote at the ballot box. The first time was in the 2008 constitutional referendum when a new constitution, including article 422 banning ISDS, was submitted to a popular vote. Ecuador has been on the receiving end of several costly compensation awards by ISDS tribunals in favour of investors. For example, in 2012, a tribunal ordered Ecuador to pay the US oil company Occidental over USD 1.5 billion, one of the largest amounts a state had ever been ordered to pay.

Remarkably, Ecuador's right-wing government tried to overturn the constitutional prohibition and reintroduce these anti-democratic courts. But 63% of voters said No: a hard blow to the ISDS system, which will have important repercussions for the global struggle to dismantle the ISDS system.

Rana Plaza 11 years on

Wednesday of this week saw the 11th anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory disaster that killed over 1,100 Bangladeshi garment workers when their factory collapsed following safety warnings from workers. In the wake of that disaster, the historic Bangladesh Accord was negotiated by UNI Global Union and IndustriALL to create a legally binding agreement to improve safety standards in garment factories.

The Accord has become a lifeline for factory workers. Over 200 brands have committed, securing safer futures for millions in Bangladesh. Since 2023, Pakistan has also been a beneficiary of its life-saving initiatives. But many major retailers, who profit from the work of Bangladeshi garment workers, have refused to sign, most notably the world's largest online retailer, Amazon.

Garment workers and their unions are forced to fight for fair pay as well as safe conditions. In November last year, garment workers staged major protests demanding a minimum monthly wage of just over $200. They were met with violence, including the killing and injuring of trade unionists. Now the Bangladeshi state has issued over 44,000 arrest warrants for garment workers participating in the protests. All with the tacit approval of Amazon and the big brands these workers make profits for.

Palestinian trade unions call for May Day solidarity

The Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions has issued an appeal to the trade unionists of the world to stand “in solidarity with our struggle and take decisive action to honour the countless martyrs lost and the families torn apart, and build pressure for a free Palestine” on May Day.

As mass graves are being uncovered in the Nasr and Shifa hospitals—just the latest gruesome detail in Israel’s Gazan genocide—the PGFTU calls on its fellow unions to:

  • Refuse to handle goods coming from or destined for Israel.
  • Organise a work stoppage or slowdown.
  • Hold educational meetings within your trade union branch to discuss the Palestinian struggle.
  • Distribute informational flyers, pamphlets, or newsletters in your workplace to educate colleagues and provide resources for action.
  • Circulate a workplace petition among coworkers calling for specific actions or policy changes, such as divesting pension funds from companies complicit in the occupation or implementing boycott measures against complicit companies.

How to defeat the far-right

Last week, the mayor of Brussels tried to defeat the far-right by shutting down the National Conservative conference that was meeting in his city. The move backfired, giving reactionary leaders a greater platform to cry foul. The shutdown “mistakes the true sources of the far right’s growing power—and in doing so, risks emboldening their coalition and amplifying its claim to persecution by the political establishment,” argue PI Co-general Coordinator, David Adler, and Jacobin Europe editor, David Broder, in a new piece for the Nation.

They argue that “far less attention has been paid to the infrastructure that connects, sustains, and supports the far-right leaders on their rosters. For years, a global network has been in formation—bringing together judges and journalists, foundations and financiers, academics and entrepreneurs—with the explicit aim to propel the far right both within and beyond the boundaries of electoral politics. This is the Reactionary International: far less visible—but far more powerful—than leaders like Marine Le Pen, Farage, or Braverman could ever be on their own. To defeat the far right, we should focus less on deplatforming its leaders—and more on dismantling the infrastructure on which they rely.”

The PI has recently launched a research consortium to do just that: the Reactionary International.

Modi starts in the gutter

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is leading his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) general election campaign with barely disguised dog whistles, equating India’s over 170 million Muslim citizens to “infiltrators”.

In a shocking speech that attracted widespread criticism, Modi said:

“[The Indian National] Congress's manifesto says they will take stock of the gold mothers and daughters have, and distribute that wealth. [Former Prime Minister from the INC] Manmohan Singh's government had said Muslims have the first right to wealth. This means they will distribute this wealth to those who have more children, to infiltrators. Should your hard-earned money be given to infiltrators?”

Argentinians defend public education

On Wednesday over a million Argentinians took to the streets to defend public education from assaults from reactionary-libertarian President Javier Milei. This show of force in support of collective rights and provision was in part organised by PI member, the trade union federation CTA-T.

The paramilitary assassination of social leaders rock Colombia

On Sunday 21 April, two social movement leaders and land defenders were assassinated by far-right paramilitary forces in Colombia: Narciso Beleño and Eliberto Chilhueso. Their murders are just the latest casualties of decades of political violence plaguing the country. In 2024 alone, 51 social leaders have been murdered in Colombia. Narciso Beleño was a rural leader of PI member organization Congreso de los Pueblos and Eliberto Chilhueso a representative of the Marcha Patriótica social movement. Both fought for dignity, peace, and comprehensive agrarian reform.

President Gustavo Petro eulogised Narciso Beleño, saying “We have failed Narciso Beleño. He was and is right. There will be no peace as long as there is social exclusion.” Leaders from Congreso de los Pueblos called the continued paramilitary assassinations of social leaders a “humanitarian emergency” and demanded the urgent dismantling of the paramilitaries.

Shut down the White House Correspondents’ Dinner

PI member Code Pink is planning to shut down the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner to honour the more than 100 journalists who have been killed in Gaza in Israel’s assault on the Strip. You can join them and find more information here.

Art of the Week: In 1991 Gladys Acosta designed a poster calling for an end to the Economic Blockade against Cuba for OSPAAAL (Organisation in Solidarity with the people of Africa, Asia and Latin America). OSPAAAL was founded during the first Tricontinental Conference in Havana in 1966 to champion a tricontinentalist vision of solidarity, which the NIEO echoed upon establishment in 1974.

OSPAAAL’s strong graphics are enduring, they have been exhibited by MoMA and the V&A, however, their origins date back to the early 20th century, when the U.S. began stationing advertising agencies in Latin America to support their economic and cultural hegemony. This resulted in many skilled artists who had learned their visual language in U.S.-serving agencies to instead support the Cuban Revolution.

OSPAAL’s graphics therefore tell a story of re-aligning as well as inspiring “cultural workers today… to seize what we know in order to dream and to construct a world that is not only possible, but necessary.”

Design for 50th Anniversary Congress on the New International Economic Order was created by the PI’s Creative Director Gabriel Silveira, more of his work can be found on the Progressive International’s Workshop.

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