The joint concluding remarks delivered by the Finnish and Tanzanian Foreign Ministers in Majvik, June 6, 2003
The Helsinki Process on Globalization and Democracy is gathering pace. It began with a meeting convened by the Finnish Foreign Ministry in June 2001, a major meeting of stakeholders in globalization and global governance was organized in December 2002, and it is now moving to a new phase. The Process is conducted in cooperation between the Finnish and Tanzanian governments, which are both committed to use it as a vehicle to expand and deepen North-South partnerships on an equal basis.
A key objective of the Helsinki Process is to open up a new political space that would permit the gradual restructuring of the institutions of global governance. They need to become more inclusive, transparent, effective, and accountable; in a word, we have to inject a stronger element of democratic representation and influence into multilateral institutions. It is in the interest of all countries to strengthen international norms and institutions that would apply equally to all countries, large and small, rich and poor.
Indeed, democracy is about equal representation and a voice in politics. Therefore, the most important vehicle for strengthening democracy in international affairs is to reinforce the role of national parliaments in the conduct of international affairs. We stressed this fact in the concluding remarks in the conference last December and we still believe so. There are obviously ways to reform international institutions from within, but unless such reforms are reconnected to democratic domestic institutions, changes may remain quite secondary.
International institutions derive their legitimacy from the working vertical relationships with national governments and parliaments. In addition, it is important to keep in mind the horizontal dimension of legitimacy that can be accomplished by developing new relationships between international institutions and issue areas. Such relationships would also promote policy coherence that is badly needed in global governance.
We have started to cooperate with other similar organizations and processes and will expand that cooperation in the future. Among many other actors, we are ready to interact with the World Social Forum and the World Economic Forum to develop further the ideas and proposals that will emanate from the Helsinki Process.
In general, it is important that the work of the Helsinki Process will be transparent and accountable, and based on reciprocal interaction with various constituencies. This calls for effective communication and a search for multiplier effects through cooperation. In addition, as called for by NGOs, the process itself should become a model for democratic practice.
The Finnish government sponsors, in cooperation with the Tanzanian government, the Helsinki Process and they both will participate actively in its work. However, we do not try to mastermind it or steer it towards a particular outcome. To be creative, the Process must have room in which to grow, involve various stakeholders, and accept differences of opinion. Often a constructive conflict is a condition for progress. We would like to thank everyone for all the comments and proposals that will be carefully considered in the future work.
We expect results from the Helsinki Process, but we do not want dictate any specific conclusions. We understand well that issues are often complex and controversial and, therefore, the course of the Process is, to a degree, unpredictable. As a result, we need flexibility and adaptation, but with one caveat; those participating in and contributing to the Process should be committed to its success. For this to succeed, everyone must have a sense of common ownership in the Process and its outcomes.
As you all know the basic parameters of the Helsinki Process, I will not dwell upon details here. Let me just state succinctly that the Process will start, by the by, the establishment of several thematic groups or tracks that would pave the way for convening a high-level Helsinki Group on Global Governance. The Foreign Ministries will invite leading international experts to convene these tracks and serve as their members.
The thematic groups will comply with the key ethos of the Helsinki Process; they must represent multiple stakeholders and be prepared for a critical and constructive dialogue. The first task of the groups is to outline the agendas of their work; as we have learned here, this work has already started. Simultaneously with the preparation of the agenda, the Foreign Ministry will start putting together the Helsinki Group that will be co-chaired by the Finnish and Tanzanian foreign ministers.
We are very delighted that the two governments have agreed to work with one another and, in that way, continue the collaboration that the Presidents of these countries have been involved in as co-chairs of the ILO Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization. The Helsinki Process will be a natural continuation of their work in the ILO Commission.
We hope that the Helsinki Group will have its first meeting in early 2004. It will be a commission of some 15 members who represent, at a high level, key stakeholders in the issues of globalization and global governance. Its work will be policy-oriented, dealing with key questions ranging from the reform of the international economic institutions through indebtedness and development funding to social problems associated with globalization.
One can hardly talk about global governance without bearing in mind that it is not only about management, but it should also have a normative basis. In our view, the normative foundations of democratic global governance should be derived, in the first place, from the UN Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). In this context, the reduction, and ultimately the eradication, of poverty and the promotion of public health remain vital objectives of global policy.
The discussions yesterday and today have revealed that there is a need for broad-based global cooperation. It includes internal reforms of existing institutions of global governance. This task is not, however, always easy and may not even produce the expected results. Therefore, it is important to recognize that there is more and more international life outside the formal institutions that need to be nurtured by transnational cooperation. It is important to reach out to the new types of human communities and activities, particularly those which have so far been marginalized and excluded.
We do not believe that we can address all the major issues in the course of the work of the Helsinki Group and the tracks; therefore, we must be selective and focused. In other words, we must be able to define the key problems in which progress is possible and where we can make a meaningful difference.
The focus on a limited number of vital issues also helps to give shape to the Helsinki Process. If we were only to deal with the reforms of existing international institutions in a broad sense or encourage new types of transnational processes, our contributions might lack specificity and policy impact. Therefore, it is important to work through the issues and develop around them new international policy communities where different stakeholders can meet and work together.
While we want the process to be flexible and open, in effect an exercise in democratic decision-making, it must also have phases and landmarks. We hope to be able to invite you in due time, probably in September 2005, for the second large Helsinki meeting. Meanwhile, we are committed to work for the development of new global partnerships to make sure that the world economy and policy will remain conducive to open, multilateral cooperation.