“There is no such thing as a developed and an under-developed world. There is only a single, badly developed world”
“Bad development”, ecological as much as economic and social, is not confined to the Third World. It encompasses the entire planet: the spiralling debt and socio-economic stagnation of many Southern countries and the ever-widening gap between the living conditions and consumption levels of the rich and of the poor all over the world amply justify this assessment. If we limit ourselves simply to the statistics furnished by various United Nations agencies, we see that chronic poverty is the lot of more people around the world than ever before. Likewise, ecological catastrophes are multiplying, threatening the very survival of humanity and of planet Earth, and providing potential new sources of conflict. Massive stockpiling of weapons is also a central factor in bad development.
In this era of “globalisation”, we need to develop new relations between nations, peoples and individuals to keep pace with the upheavals caused by the prevailing economic paradigm.
A primary concern of the CETIM is the search for alternatives capable of ensuring the survival and development of the majority of the countries of the South. These countries are faced with a dominant model that clearly disadvantages them, whether economically (e.g. the inappropriateness of world production to basic economic and social needs, the vicious cycle of the third-world debt), by damaging the social fabric (e.g. unemployment, the dismantling of social welfare systems), ecologically (e.g. deforestation, pollution), or by threatening their culture (e.g. standardisation and loss of cultural identity). The growing marginalisation of regions like sub-Saharan Africa, considered by the industrialised world as possessing no strategic value, is also profoundly worrying.
Generally, the CETIM has chosen to criticise financial and trade institutions (International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Organisation) as well as the dominant role of multi- or transnational corporations.
Cultural interactions arising from the vast migratory movements that characterise the end of the 20th century are a second important concern. The movement in one direction of political, economic and ecological refugees and, in the other, of hordes of tourists in quest of the exotic can have devastating consequences. Here, the CETIM’s activities highlight such issues as political asylum and living conditions for immigrants. They also aim at denouncing the rise of racism, xenophobia and forms of apartheid by examining structural causes that underlie such phenomena.
Disturbed by the growing numbers of people marginalized by globalisation, whether in the South or the North, the CETIM also deals with various aspects of exclusion and precariousness, such as the economic, social and cultural effects of the new telecommunications networks.
The CETIM: a Solidarity Switchboard
The CETIM works to contribute to an exchange of critical views from both Southern and Northern societies in response to what appears to be the emerging trends for the 21st century. With this aim in mind, the CETIM has a number of tools in hand.
Publications: a different slant
As a not-for-profit association, the CETIM deals with topics that the media often neglect. Convinced that some social actors in both global and national power struggles start with a decided handicap, the CETIM as publisher pays careful attention to the myriad conflicts that daily endanger peace and to the search for alternatives that could ensure egalitarian and lasting development.
With this aim in mind, the CETIM has produced and distributed some 90 publications to date. We offer our services to associations and NGOs wishing to take advantage of our technical expertise and publishing experience. Our publications mostly target a general public and solicit active solidarity with the victims of human rights violations, many of whom face social problems linked to globalisation.
Active support of awareness-raising campaigns
By getting involved in consultations and demonstrations, the CETIM participates in local, national and international campaigns in cooperation with a wide network of organisations and movements. Already in 1995, for instance, the CETIM organised an international symposium, “GATT/WTO: What are the issues, the effects?” in Geneva with 20 speakers and several hundred participants.
Working at the UN
CETIM enjoys general category consultative status with the ECOSOC, the UN Economic and Social Council, which allows us to engage in several important activities. Criticisms emerging from civil society (people’s movements, grassroots organisations, trade unions and NGOs) around the world are transmitted to the international level in the form of proposals for concrete action and calls for innovation. At present, the CETIM is emphasising in particular respect for, implementation and promotion of economic, social and cultural rights, as well as issues related to the right to development.
As its name indicates, the CETIM is a research and study centre with specialised documentation on numerous subjects; we also subscribe to more than 200 regional and international periodicals as well as to those published by various UN bodies. The CETIM’s archives are open to researchers, students and others on request.
Overall, the CETIM’s various activities and tools complement each other. Our original approach has won us considerable acclaim on various levels – international and national as well as among Geneva-based associations.